Amy Varland‘s resume is a colorful one. She’s been a tour
Amy Varland is a BHSU Mass Communications major and an intern with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
guide at Walt Disney World, a travel agent, a television production assistant, a golf course manager; she’s a licensed bail bond agent and certified to officiate wedding ceremonies. In May, the Black Hills State University student found her true calling.

Varland, a Mass Communication major with a Spanish minor, took the advice of her college professor, Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, and applied for a summer internship with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.  Now, several months later, Varland is still with SDPB working part time from a little makeshift recording studio from the living room of her Lead home.

“This is my dream job,” she said.

Throughout the summer, Varland wrote and produced radio coverage of some of the region’s top news stories including the fire in Pringle, the drowning of the boy in Deerfield Lake, and others.

“I was already talking to some really important people in my first week or two of the job.”

She recently completed two Halloween pieces including one on spiders where she spoke with Dr. Caton-Rosser about her experience with being bit by a black widow, and BHSU professor of psychology and chair of the School of Behavioral Sciences Dr. James Hess on arachnophobia.  In another piece, Varland interviewed international students about superstitions from their countries. Both will air around Halloween.

Varland’s road to her “dream job” took many twists and turns. After graduating from Rapid City Central High School, she took a job as a backstage studio tour guide for Walt Disney World. After several years in sunny Florida, Varland moved back to the Black Hills and took a job with Rushmore Travel. During her time as a travel agent, Varland also got certified to officiate weddings and has presided over nearly 400 weddings.  In 2004, she became a production assistant for KOTA in Rapid City. She spent five years doing a multitude of jobs from running the teleprompter to designing graphics.  

After several years in Rapid City, Varland moved back to her hometown of Lead where she worked some odd jobs. One day, however, Varland realized she needed something different. “I didn’t have any marketable skills …. I needed to go to school,”she said. Varland said she used to have the philosophy that “anything I learn at college I can learn on the job.”

After enrolling at BHSU, that philosophy has changed. “I like being in a progressive environment where people are dedicated to learning and continuing their education,” she said. “I’ve met so many inspiring people.”

BHSU is also where she found her passion for writing and communications. Although originally a Spanish major, Varland quickly changed her mind after taking a basic news writing class from Dr. Caton-Rosser.  “It just sold me on the whole business.”

Varland said her work at SDPB along with her job at the BHSU Writing Center has opened up some great opportunities for her.  Varland said SDPB news producer Charles Michael Ray has been instrumental in helping her find her niche.

“He’s patient,really creative and has always stressed to me to be fair, objective and balanced in my reporting,” Varland said. “It is nice to learn from someone who has been in the business for 20 years.”

Although Varland is an intern now, she hopes to continue her career with SDPB.

“I love my job,and I love public broadcasting.”

Check out Amy’s creepy, crawly spider story at http://listen.sdpb.org/post/creepy-crawly-spiders