Jenna Deml, 2022, Oregon Public Broadcasting
After graduating from the University of Puget Sound in 2017 with concurrent degrees in psychology and theater arts, Jenna Deml arrived at a trending point that many recent graduates face: “”okay, now what?”
“When I got home, I was like: ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. I didn’t adequately plan for career paths’ or anything like that,” Deml said.
Then one day, her mother was listening to the radio, and a local FM station was sending out a call for volunteers to join the station.
Deml, who has a self-acclaimed eclectic taste in music, then contacted the head of the station and told her she wanted to be on the radio. The station director instead asked Deml to try a hand at producing podcasts. Over five years later, Deml is now the podcast co-op coordinator of that radio station and has her own show that airs every Tuesday
In 2020, Deml returned to school to earn her Master’s degree in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon, which she plans on finishing in 2022. As she was juggling her on-radio duties, Deml wanted to step up her professional experience and branch out — which led her to apply for the Snowden program.
“The Snowden internship has this real air of exclusivity about it,” said Deml. “But I applied (because I) really wanted to take the internship seriously —to make connections, hone in on my skills but also get to know people in the business and deep dive into what a (journalism) career is like.”
Deml was part of the 25th cohort of Snowden interns to tackle an unfamiliar newsroom in Oregon. During the summer of 2022, she worked with the Oregon Public Broadcasting station in her hometown of Portland.
Despite audio journalism being her most massaged muscle, Deml pocked other skills like photography during the ten weeks. One memorable story, which happened to be her first assignment, took Deml’s photography abilities to new heights.
For the Tigard Festival of Balloons, the OPB intern jumped on a hot air balloon and captured the multi-colored orbs as they floated across the blue sky.
“I got to go up into a hot air balloon but also simultaneously conquered my fear of heights,” she said. “I got some really cool photos…and it was kind of a milestone in a way.”
As someone on the Autism spectrum, Deml says that her being neurodivergent doesn’t hold her back within her career. If anything, it provides her with other ways of looking at journalism and life.
“I don’t want people to see (being on the autism spectrum) as something holding me back. If anything, it just means I can offer different perspectives than someone who is more neurotypical,” Deml said. “People in the neurotypical world may see it as a hindrance, But I think it can open people’s eyes more to hear from those perspectives and especially have them in journalism.”
Deml’s internship wrapped up in mid-August. And that fall, she returned to the University of Oregon’s Portland campus and knocked out the remaining time left in her degree. She plans to continue her work as a Podcast Producer at the Portland Radio Project.
Going forward, she hasn’t nailed down the specific job she wants to have but aspires to travel and keep exploring her interests in art, social justice, politics, animals, and nature.
“One of the reasons why I went into journalism is because you know a little about a lot of things and that’s what I want to keep doing,” she said.
Thinking back to the moment she pressed send on her application, Deml remembers thinking she wouldn’t get the internship. Now, with ten-weeks of real-world experience under her belt, she advises anyone interested in applying for the program to take the chance on themselves. Even if they have their doubts.
“It never hurts to apply. It really doesn’t. I was someone who didn’t think I would get (the internship). But sometimes fate or the world surprises you and validates your challenge,” she said. “And even if it doesn’t —keep going.”