Jake Krol '18 on How to Land the Big Internship

Mixing it up with the media is this senior's specialty.

By: Shelley Drozd  Friday, April 27, 2018 03:38 PM

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Jacob Krol '18 discusses tech trends with faculty mentor Jeff Pooley.

The Stoic philosopher Seneca famously said that luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.

By that measure, media and communications major Jacob Krol ’18 is one lucky guy.

Most any college student will tell you that plum internships are competitive and hard to come by. Throughout his Muhlenberg career, Jake has had—count ’em—five.

Even Jake can’t believe his good fortune. “Everything just worked out,” he says, with a giant grin. But Jeff Pooley, associate professor and department chair of media and communication, has a different take on his student’s marathon run in the media-intern market.

“What distinguishes Jake is his cheerful tenacity—he has genuine hustle,” says Pooley.

Building brand Krol

In many ways, the arc of Jake’s Muhlenberg story is a familiar one. High school senior from Millburn, N.J. falls in love with beautiful campus in Allentown, Pa. Avowed tech geek is blown away by Muhlenberg’s first-rate studios and production facilities. Aspiring journalist envisions future self formed by an exciting curriculum, small classes and the respected scholars who teach them.

What helped Jake stand out in a competitive applicant pool was his business bona fides. Not many of the students applying to Muhlenberg are already running their own companies.

The 14-year-old Jake started a blog all about Apple technology. By 16 he incorporated NJTechReviews, a full-on product evaluation website that boasts a robust volunteer staff (of mostly Muhlenberg writers), a bevy of paid advertisers, and the kind of cred that attracts sponsorships, exclusives and 100,000 unique viewers a month.

Doing the internship hustle

Jake’s brand-building began anew when he arrived on campus. He took on a minor in Muhlenberg’s new innovation and entrepreneurship program. As a rising sophomore, he secured a summer internship at Buzzanza, a now-defunct blog. That led to a stint as a contributing writer for Boy Genius Report, where he learned much about tech reporting writ large.

Warmed up by these early internships, the next summer Jake set his sites on the New York media market. He scored on his first at-bat, landing a summer position as the CNET Reviews editorial intern and squarely in his wheelhouse.

“All CNET does is tech news,”  says Jake. “I got a bunch of bylines there. I did video scripts and editing. We covered some live events for them. My writing improved a lot. It was an incredible summer.”

Next up was a social media internship at Fox News in the summer of Jake’s junior year. He started a week after the presidential inauguration, working both the business and news sides of the brand. “It was a whirlwind of a time,” he says. “I did everything from setting up Facebook Live streams and status updates to tweeting, creating Instagram posts and quote graphics.” Invited back by Fox for a second internship, Jake returned as the lead college associate, where he helped run orientation for the new interns.

The Fox experience opened doors to yet another social media internship at CNN, on its flagship morning program, “New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.” Jake’s workday started at 6 a.m. “They keep the studio ‘piping cold’ because of the equipment and the makeup, so at least it woke you up in the morning,” he says.

At CNN Jake started collecting news bylines and further testing his social copy and video chops. “We took moments from the TV show and explained them out,” he says. “You’re the one crafting that message for that specific brand. And as soon as you hit that button to go live with a post, you’ll garner 15,000 impressions within the first five seconds.”

With one semester left on the home stretch to graduation, Jake wasted no time going directly from CNN to his current internship at CNBC, where he’s once again an intern on the social media team. These days he’s writing articles, promos (called touts) and headlines for postings, identifying trending topics, pitching story ideas, scheduling the social calendar, and contributing to Facebook and Twitter accounts that reach millions of people worldwide. “They’ve really thrown me into the deep end,” he says. “It’s been amazing.”

The harder he works, the luckier he gets

Prospective interns, take note: There’s lots of sweat equity in Jake’s resume. There’s tracking down the opportunities. Sitting for timed video pre-screenings. Preparing for the make-or-break phone interviews. Competing against students from much bigger schools. Relentless networking in search of what could be that next great shot.

In Jake’s case, there’s also been the commute for school-year internships. Millburn was close enough to the city that Jake would drive the 77 miles home from Allentown after classes to be able to hop back in the car or take public transit the next day to his internship. His first car died of natural causes; he is now the proud owner of his very first new one, a Hyundai Elantra.

Having a faculty mentor also helps during the internship hunt, and Jake credits Pooley for his ready guidance. “Jake combines intellectual curiosity with exceptional self-drive, which is like professorial catnip for faculty,” says Pooley.

For all his spadework and its payoff, Lady Luck has visited Jake on occasion. The hardcore Bruce Springsteen fan saw great good fortune in the chance to do both his first-year seminar and an independent study project on his favorite singer/songwriter.

Then there was the time he won the ticket lottery to Bruce’s broadway show (after he’d already bought tickets and seen it once before).

But nothing comes close to being one of the lucky few invited up on stage at a Bruce concert. Just ask Jake, he’s one of them.