Graduating during a pandemic, a UGA student looks forward to the future

From the WRBL Internship Assignment Desk

This story was produced as part of the WRBL 2020 Summer Intern program

Patel covering the UGA vs. Notre Dame football game for the Red & Black in September 2019.

“The first job is the hardest to get.”

That’s a quote that University of Georgia student Myan Patel heard from his friends that resonates strongly with the landscape that he has graduated into. Patel graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, a minor in Spanish, and a sports media certificate.

“It still doesn’t completely feel like I’m done yet. It feels pretty surreal,” Patel said.

Although he is grateful for the celebrations he had with his sports media fellows, college friends, and family, he is looking forward to UGA’s rescheduled spring commencement later this year in October.

While he was finishing up work to graduate, Patel kept an eye out for any job opportunities in the field of sports broadcasting. By now, he hoped to have a role reporting play-by-plays for a minor league baseball team, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made the process harder.

Patel worked as a broadcaster in Summer 2019 for the Madison Mallards in Wisconsin.

“I think for me, the toughest part is having to be patient,” Patel said. “Right now, it feels like I’ve got zero control over any of it because I just don’t know when sports will come back.”

Still, Patel has even reached out for online internships within the industry, including new ones and others he has held, to see if they had any opportunities for this summer. Those places either did not have interns this summer or could not offer anything online.

In the meantime, Patel said his main goal is to be as productive as possible. During his free time, he’s been reading, listening to podcasts, and going back over his past journalistic work for critiques and other feedback.

“I think the hard part is once I have that feedback, I don’t know when my next opportunity will be to use it,” Patel said.

After hearing from a podcast that people’s voices may get weak while having to speak for hours at a time, Patel is also making sure his vocal chords stay strong for his hopes of being a sports broadcaster.

“I’ll pull up a video on YouTube of some game that I know and just make up names and call it for five minutes just to keep my vocal cords strong,” Patel said. “Or maybe just singing in the shower, yelling, or something.”

Patel has also signed up for an ‘externship’ online called the AT&T Summer Learning Academy. It is described as a free, self-paced course that awards certificates upon completion of the course. Registration was open for college students and recent graduates for the course starting on June 22.

Though he can’t be out in the field doing what he originally planned, Patel is thankful for all the work he did over his college career. He even reflected on his first sports broadcasting experience when he was still in school in his hometown Knoxville, Tennessee[SS2] .

“I loved sports growing up. I played growing up as well, not very good,” Patel said. “But the school that I was going to, they had summer camps and one of the camps was sports broadcasting run by one of the teachers. One of my friends was gonna go, I thought it would be kinda cool and so I went.”

Patel got his start in broadcasting by calling middle school football games in a summer camp at Webb School of Knoxville before he started seventh grade in 2010. Following his first year at the camp, he carried it on throughout the rest of his grade school education and covered hockey, soccer, and rival teams in Nashville.

After graduating from Webb, Patel then attended the University of Georgia for the journalism program, but first majored in psychology. He found his way back to sports by writing for the student-ran newspaper The Red & Black, though it took away from his organic chemistry classes.

“I was on the equestrian beat,” Patel said. “Basically, just in the field in the middle of this farm out there, and I was having so much fun doing that than going to class for an hour and then going to hang out with my friends.”

His realization led him to change his major to journalism and pursue sports media.

Patel pictured with coworkers from The Red & Black during the 2020 Sugar Bowl last January in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“For me, I now know that my heart is 100 percent in journalism and broadcast,” Patel said. “I told my parents that and they were like ‘Okay, we’re with you. Just work your butt off, work as hard as you can, put yourself in a good spot, and we’re proud of you.’”

Patel planned to continue his hard work by working after graduating or possibly starting graduate school.

“I haven’t 100 percent ruled out grad school, but I want to avoid it if I can,” Patel said. “It would be awesome to learn more, but I just don’t know if it would be the most productive use of my time with what I want to do. I would rather work in a smaller market for a smaller job for a couple of years.”

Despite those jobs being few and far between currently, Patel stays strong.

“I think the biggest thing for a lot of us is try not to lose a ton of hope,” Patel said. “I try to keep in mind that this wasn’t in any one’s plans, this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Blind optimism is really empowering right now. It’s going to be okay. I think it’ll be alright.”

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