Life is feeling like a pleasant dream for David Holmes right about now. The Kent State University senior still can’t believe he won ESPN’s “Dream Job” competition along with a broadcast anchor job with the world’s leading sports network.
Each week of the show, finalists hand-picked from 14 cities around the country were challenged with nerve-wracking on-air tasks such as sideline reporting, anchoring, play-by-play, and one-on-one interviews with famous sports figures. Holmes used his sports knowledge and sense of humor to beat the competition and win a one-year on-air broadcasting contract worth $70,000, a new Mazda 6 sports car and an Intel laptop.
The amazing part of Holmes’ story was how close he came to never even being a contestant on the show. After being dismissed in the final cut the previous season, he sharpened his skills and was finally chosen to participate through a special sponsor exemption.
Holmes’ first assignment came as an anchor for ESPN News, the network’s 24-hour news channel. The Uniontown, Ohio native now lives near the company’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
Holmes has one more online course left to pass in order to earn his degree in broadcast journalism. He was scheduled to graduate earlier but had to drop one class because of the show. He still took a couple of classes while taping the show, which made for a busy semester
Holmes knows that winning the competition will give him major exposure and could also lead to bigger job opportunities. For example, Mike Hall, the winner of the first “Dream Job” season, now works as the signature anchor for ESPNU, the new college network, which kicked off in March.
During an exclusive interview with YOUNG MONEY, Holmes spoke candidly about competing on “Dream Job,” and how college students can land their own dream jobs.
WHAT MAKES WORKING AT ESPN THE DREAM JOB?
HOLMES: You just walk around that newsroom and there’s an environment that radiates with electricity in there. You really get caught up in it. I don’t know how best to explain it. It’s just fun. You don’t feel like you’re going to work. There’s a TV at your desk with 100 different channels and every one of them is sports. There’s every single sporting event [on TV] that you can imagine and this is at your workstation. A place like that I just don’t know how you cannot love working there. It doesn’t feel like you’re going to a job. It just feels like you’re going to have fun and talk about sports.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO TRY AGAIN AFTER NOT MAKING THE FINAL CUT LAST SEASON?
HOLMES: It bothered me that I didn’t make the show in season one. I just wanted to at least have a chance and make the final 10. Being that close was such an emotional ride and to come one step close just ate at me. It’s one of those situations where you watch the show then think how much fun it would be, and it drove me crazy.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART OF THE COMPETITION FOR YOU?
HOLMES: I think the hardest part was keeping your emotions in check – not getting too high when you’re up and not getting too low when you’re down. I remember going back to school and someone drove by, put his window down and asked “You’re Dave Holmes right? You’re terrible.” That was during the third week of the show when I almost got voted off. “You’re awful. You’re embarrassing the school.” Then he just rolled up his window and drove off.
I thought to myself, “That’s fine because you know what? In a couple of weeks everyone will say ‘Dave, there’s no doubt you’re going to win.’ Then two weeks later people will say, ‘Dave, you’ve got to step it up or you’re going to get knocked out.'” There were just constant ups and downs. That was really the hardest part – just trying to keep mentally at a steady level throughout the entire competition.
WHAT MADE YOU STAND APART FROM YOUR COMPETITORS?
HOLMES: I think from week one to week 10, I probably did the best job of letting my true self come out in the show. I think the person you saw on weeks one, two and three was me trying not to make a big mistake on national television. When I really went back to the root [of the problem] after that third week when I almost got voted off, I kind of did a major thinking session.
The conclusion I came up with was the reason I went into sports broadcasting in the first place was to have fun. I was completely getting away from that. From week one to week 10 I rediscovered the fun, rediscovered the reason I went into my business and just started to enjoy it. And when I did, the judges’ feedback corresponded positively. It didn’t take me long to realize that the more fun I had the better response I was getting.
HOW WILL YOU HANDLE GOING FROM STARVING STUDENT TO BEING A FINANCIALLY SECURE TV SPORTS ANCHOR?
HOLMES: You don’t really go into journalism for the money, even though people think, “Oh, there’s so much money on TV.” It’s just one of those situations where there’s a ton of money for people at the top. But I know kids making $6 an hour that graduated from journalism school at Kent State. I think I was really fortunate not to have to do that right away. That’s the biggest blessing to come out of this. You’re not only working doing what you love but you’re also not going to have to worry about being a waiter on the side just to pay rent.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER RECENT GRADS SEARCHING FOR THEIR OWN DREAM JOB?
HOLMES: For young people who don’t have a dream job [opportunity], then just take any job. Any job can teach you skills and experience to get where you want. Financially, look for any opportunity you can. Interning is huge. I interned at a station in Cleveland last summer. Even taking [unpaid] job experience can give back so much because it just puts you ahead of the kids who are afraid to work for free. I really think that’s a key because experience can be more valuable than earning $6 an hour.
The third season of ESPN’s “Dream Job,” debuted Feb. 20, and features former NBA players competing for a studio analyst job. For more information, visit www.dreamjobseason3.com.
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