Thesis Prepared Chrest for National Geographic, Discovery Channel
By Marinda Morgan Wood ’07
Amy Chrest ’08, Production Coordinator at Discovery Channel, is fortunate to have a job she loves at a company that many can only dream of working for. “Your life is what you make of it and what you’re willing to risk to get there,” she says of the path she has pursued.
“I love going to work. I’m extremely happy and it’s very rewarding to be able to say that you love what you do,” says Chrest.
But Chrest’s career success had very little to do with fortune. After graduating from Arcadia University with a B.A. in Communications with a specialization in video , Chrest started at Discovery Channel as a third shift Technical Evaluation (TE) Technician and hoped to advance in the company, but she found that working third shift made it difficult to move up.
“I was doing TE for two years on night shift; 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. I watched TV for a living. It’s great for about three months, but it gets old quickly. I wanted something challenging,” she says. “I also wanted to see people during the day and interact. It is especially hard to move out of [the TE position] when people don’t even know who you are.”
Chrest saw an opportunity to show her dedication and interest in excelling in her field by volunteering to work extra hours on Saturdays whenever the company needed staff to remove labels from tapes.
“Whenever there was a ‘degaussing Saturday,’ I was the first one there and the last one to leave. And during the day, I went in to shadow anyone who would let me. I made sure people learned who I was, and I made sure my manager saw my interest in moving up. So, when he learned of this Production Coordinator position, he put me up for it.”
Before her experience at Discovery, Chrest utilized her diligence and determination at another large media company. She spent a summer as an intern at National Geographic.
“My internship was eight hours a day, five days a week for three months. It was a full-time job without pay and it was rough. Particularly because I had to commute via train to Washington, D.C., everyday, which was easily three hours roundtrip. Many mornings were a struggle because I knew I wasn’t getting a paycheck at the end of it. But I got something better; I got experience. It was one of the best summers I have ever had. Experience goes a long way, and it is something I will always treasure.”
In order to have such a time-intensive internship, Chrest had to wait until after graduation to complete it. That decision gave her some flexibility, which she believes helped her to succeed.
“Because the internship didn’t have to be in Philadelphia and I didn’t have to fit it in between classes, I got to network and focus on my internship a little bit more than I otherwise would have.”
Looking back on her time at Arcadia, Chrest mentions her thesis project, a documentary on women in extreme sports, as key in preparing her for her interview with Discovery.
“It helped me by giving me something tangible to show them. It also gave me a glance at the different aspects of production so I could find my strengths, which is pre-production. My goal is to become a producer and win an Emmy; mainly the producer part, and I think I’m on the right track. I’d like to stay at Discovery, too. It’s a wonderful company to work for.”
Hard work was clearly a factor in Chrest’s flourishing career at Discovery, but she also attributes her success to the ability to take chances and pursue her goals.
“The dilemma with [the Production Coordinator] position is that it is contingent worker. I am now contracted for one year. Moving from TE to Production Coordinator I lost my staff position. I lost my job security, my benefits, my paid time off and holidays. It was the hardest decision to make. Was it a risk worth taking? Definitely. I work hard, prove myself, and now I have a lot of people who have my back. I don’t stress about the threat of a one-year contract; I know I will be here longer then that. Your life is what you make of it and what you’re willing to risk to get there.”