HUB Online Network student interns Leith McLean (left) and Shelby Symes. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

HUB Online Network interns relish opportunity for creative freedom

Students learning new skills and flexing their creative muscles in a variety of ways

Since late June 2019 the HUB Online Network (HON) has produced dozens of videos profiling people, events, and organizations in the region; documented council meetings in Cache Creek and Ashcroft; provided live coverage of events such as the 2019 federal election; and started a daily morning broadcast bringing area residents news, weather, road conditions, and more.

READ MORE: HUB Online Network finding its feet, documenting the region

For the last three months, the regular HON crew has been assisted by two interns: Desert Sands Community School students Shelby Symes (Grade 11) and Leith McLean (Grade 9). Every Wednesday after school they’re at the HON studio at the Ashcroft HUB, where they’ve been learning how to set up and use cameras, edit, do interviews, and more.

The pair could hardly be more different. McLean—a longtime on-stage presence in Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society theatre productions—admits that he’s more happy behind the scenes. In spring 2019 he worked lights and sound for the WRAPS production of Shrek the Musical, Jr., and said to the Journal at the time that it was better than being on stage.

He heard about the intern position from his mother, Susan, who is very active in the HUB community, and says that his technical work with WRAPS didn’t influence his decision to apply. “We were told that as well as doing off-camera stuff, we would have to be on camera as well, and I thought ‘I don’t know if I want to do this.’

“I’ve acted in plays and a couple of movies, and used to think I liked acting, but I don’t, really. I’m over it. I like the technical stuff much more.”

Symes, who got her first camera at age 11 and taught herself photography, is as happy to be in front of the camera as she is to be behind it.

“I’m okay with all of it,” she says. “I enjoy dancing and love acting, and all sorts of art, so I’m okay being in front of people. It’s all good experience.”

Symes says she enjoys making videos, having been in a couple of music videos and seeing how they did things. McLean is enjoying getting editing experience, and is glad of the opportunity to be able to use resources that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

Asked how long their internships run for, he says it’s open-ended. “I don’t think they plan to give us up if they can help it.”

One of their joint exercises was to interview each other about diversity and cyber-bullying. “They wanted our perspective on it,” explains Symes. “Cyber-bullying is modern. In the past bullying was more physical, more in your face. Now people have a way to bully while remaining anonymous, and it spreads like wildfire. It’s hard to stop.”

She says there is talk about letting the pair do more interviews in the future, and videos: “That would be fun.” There has also been discussion about the pair doing their own show.

“They want us to give them ideas for a show that would appeal to people our age,” says Symes. “We have some small ideas, and it would be cool if they grew.”

“They’re asking if we have any ideas, and have been pushing us to do what we want,” says McLean. “I’d much rather be behind the camera, not on screen, but I get that we have to do [interviews]. We haven’t really talked about what would appeal.”

He adds that he would encourage others his age to think about becoming a HON intern if it was something that appealed to them. “I’d tell them to do this, because they’ll learn a lot of stuff that will be important later in life, things like social media networking and getting to know people in business.”

Symes says that if she had a friend who was creative she would definitely push them to do it.

“We have a lot of creative freedom here, and an opportunity to do what we want to. There’s so much to learn.

“Social media is the biggest platform going forward for business and jobs, and I’d encourage people to do this, as it’s a great learning experience. You have lots of creative freedom, and it looks great on a resume.”

To see what the HUB Online Network is doing, visit their Facebook page, or go to their YouTube channel at

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