Viacom Summer Intern Avonna Zheng: From Homeless Youth to Nickelodeon Team Player

Nickelodeon intern Avonna Zheng worked hard and played hard at her 2017 summer internship. (Photo collage created by Zheng)

When I was in the eighth grade, I was one of the thousands of homeless children in New York City. I was constantly moving from shelter to shelter.

At that point in my life, attending college and having a successful career did not seem nearly as important as worrying about where I would be sleeping at night.

Luckily, I was raised by a mother who encouraged me to work hard and get an education so I would not have to live through this struggle again. The adversities I faced growing up, along with my mother’s strong, positive influence inspired me to pursue a better future for myself.

During high school, I joined Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, an organization that helps students from underserved communities access opportunities to attend college and start a career. This organization helped me earn a six-week scholarship for Syracuse University’s summer college program, which ultimately let to my enrollment as a full-time student at Syracuse University.

I worked hard in college, and in the summer of 2017, my dedication and determination paid off when I applied for a Viacom summer internship and was selected to work with Nickelodeon’s project management department.

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Another BET Experience: When the Fan Becomes the Intern

So, you’ve been obsessed with BET Networks for as long as you can remember. You are one of the “real fans” who recalls watching reruns of Rap City, and loving every minute of AJ and Free hosting 106 & Park. Every year, you anxiously anticipate the thrill and excitement of the annual BET Awards and BET Experience.

This was me: a die-hard BET fan. I wondered what an internship with one of my favorite television networks would be like. In lieu of how difficult it is to land a Viacom internship, I expected to become an integrated member of the team whose work positively impacts the network. I wanted to work with people who care about who I am, and not just what I could do for them. Ultimately, I expected to be constantly challenged, as that is how I produce my best work.

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