Student Heads to Rio Olympics on Internship

The Olympic beach volleyball arena in Copacabana, Brazil.
The Olympic beach volleyball arena in Copacabana, Brazil, where UConn student Fernando Marinho will be working behind the scenes as part of an internship with NBC.

SHARELINES

For much of his life, Fernando Marinho ’17 (SFA) thought of Rio de Janeiro as a place to go on vacation. While growing up in Brazil, he remembers family trips to the coastal resort city – a four or five-hour drive from their home in São Paulo.

Now 24 and living in the United States, Marinho will once again be traveling to Rio, this time as an intern for NBC Sports. The Greenwich resident and digital media and design major at UConn’s Stamford Campus will be part of a team supporting the network’s coverage of the summer Olympics. Marinho’s assignment: working behind the scenes at the beach volleyball venue during the games.

Marinho, who will be a senior this fall, can hardly believe he landed the coveted gig. The selection process was lengthy and highly competitive, and he nearly missed the application deadline. But all that seems forgotten now, as he excitedly recounts his reaction to the email he received congratulating him on being selected.

“I was not expecting it,” says Marinho. “I didn’t know what to do. I remember calling my mom. She was so happy, she started to cry. I was thinking, ‘Is this really happening to me?’”

Stamford has become a tech industry hub in recent years and an array of companies, from startups to major corporations, call the Greater Stamford area home. The Stamford Campus has positioned itself at the center of this digital evolution by offering training that meets the needs of those companies.

Courses offered include 2-D and 3-D animation and visualization, interactive media and digital game design, and web and mobile app design – skills that are in high demand, says Halina Hollyway, director of the Career Center at the Stamford Campus and coordinator of its Interdisciplinary Internship Program.

“Everybody has to have a web presence, and companies really leverage these resources,” she says.

Students are encouraged to pursue internships and to have at least three on their resume by the time they graduate, Hollyway notes. Matthew Worwood,assistant professor-in-residence of digital media and associate director of the digital media and design program in Stamford, says part of his job is cultivating relationships with area companies and developing internships. Representatives from NBC Sports, WWE, and Priceline.com have come to the school as adjunct instructors to teach motion graphic design, 3-D movement, and web design, he says.

One such visit was a turning point for Marinho.  Shortly after a representative from NBC Sports spoke on campus in March 2015, he went to the career center to work on his resume. Hollyway, who describes Marinho as “particularly proactive,” says he has been a standout ever since he transferred to the Stamford Campus from Norwalk Community College.

Worwood and others agree.

“From the moment he started, he was committed to the program,” says Worwood. “He’s not just taking classes, but engaging with the digital media community. Fernando is someone looking to cross-pollinate in different tracks, and looking for opportunities to learn something new. He’s a team player, focused; a creative thinker.”

Steve Harper, assistant professor-in-residence with the digital media program, says “Fernando is very disciplined, has a great attitude, and puts extra time and effort into projects. He takes my critiques and builds upon them to improve … He’s pushing what he’s being requested to do and taking it further. That gives him a leg up.”

Marinho is one of two digital media and design students to land internships at NBC Sports this summer, and it’s his second internship since enrolling in the program. His first, at a high school sports-streaming startup called The Bleachers, will be put on hold while he’s in Rio. In fact, he was at work at The Bleachers when he got word he’d been tapped to go to Rio. He says both his boss and coworkers were excited for him, and supportive.

“They said, ‘Cool, go for it. It will be a great experience for you’,” Marinho recalls, “but come back and bring us back something from the games.”

Unlike his childhood trips to Rio, this one is not about fun in the sun, Marinho says. He already cautioned family members still living in Brazil that he may not have time to see them. He’s scheduled to be in Rio for a month, departing July 25. The first week will be training, after which he’ll be working as a technician’s assistant helping out with streaming, assisting camera operators, checking cables, or whatever else is needed. Being fluent in Portuguese, he’ll also help out as a translator.

Marinho says that although he didn’t take part in sports when he was at Greenwich High School, now he’s immersed in it and is ‘all in:’ “I have an interest in sports I never had before, now that I’ve been introduced.”

He hopes to work full time in sports once he graduates, perhaps at The Bleachers or maybe in New York City. “Something that challenges me in the tri-state area,” he says, “but stay in sports.”