Paulina works as a podcast show transcription intern for the Digital Media Engagement team podcast, Borne the Battle. This week, she talks about her main responsibilities, her process for transcribing each podcast episode, and the human touch involved in transcription. More specifically, she tells listeners about some of her favorite current projects, which include the Antarctic Sun Podcast because she finds the story and content itself so fascinating. She also speaks to her own personal love of podcasts, especially true crime and comedy. Next, Paulina elaborates on the skills she has cultivated from the DME internship, including time management, personal motivation and the creation of schedules and structure.

Lastly, Paulina speaks about her plans and hopes for the future. In the short term, she hopes to graduate with her bachelor’s in psychology and criminal justice. In the longer term, Paulina has goals to get a master’s in mental health counseling, as her dream career is to provide mental health services for active-duty soldiers, veterans and their families. To close, she explains how her own experiences with loved ones serving in the military, combined with the first-hand stories she has heard throughout this internship, have fortified her long-term career goals and desire to provide support for soldiers and their families

Use the audio player to listen to Paulina’s full interview, or read the transcript below: 

(Serena Aguilar): Hello and welcome to DME Interns Podcast. I’m your host, Serena Aguilar, and I hope you’ll join me in learning about DME interns, what they do and what they hope to do in the future.


(Serena Aguilar): Hello, everyone. And welcome back to another interview. Today, we have Paulina Riffey from podcast transcription. Paulina Riffey works as a podcast show transcription intern for the Digital Media Engagement team podcast, Borne the Battle. So, can you tell me a little bit about what you do on the team? Kind of what goes into being a podcast transcription intern.

(Paulina Riffey): So, yeah, my main role is to transcribe episodes for the Borne the Battle podcast. Sometimes we get different random projects too. Like for example, right now I’m also working on episodes for the Antarctic Sun Podcast, about, like, life in Antarctica. It’s, it’s pretty fun, but, yeah, Borne the Battle is my main focus right now. So, for the Borne the Battle when we do the transcriptions, we usually get, receive like a rough draft, kind of like, made through one on the transcribing software and we just go through it, make all the corrections, make sure it’s accurate. It’s kind of like a Google translate. It’s not exactly perfect. It’s far from perfect. So, our main job is to just make sure the capitalizations are right, everything’s just, punctuation’s right. If we don’t get these rough drafts, we just do anything manually. For example, for the Antarctic Sun Podcast, I do everything manually, but episodes are pretty short, 14 – 15 minutes. It takes about two, three hours, to transcript all that.

(Serena Aguilar): That sounds like a lot.

(Paulina Riffey) It’s not… ah, yeah. It’s not that much technology going into it to just listen to the audio and just typing.

(Serena Aguilar): Hmm. Okay. But that’s nice, like a little bit of a human touch into creating that transcript.

(Paulina Riffey): Oh yes. The transcription software are like I said, they’re not perfect. They don’t pick up some sounds. All it takes for a person in the podcast to speak a little faster or have an accent and the software just doesn’t, doesn’t really pick that up.

(Serena Aguilar): Yeah. I’ve noticed that with kind of just watching transcriptions, like on TV then they’re never great.

(Paulina Riffey): Yeah. So it’s like, there’s a little like proofreading.

(Serena Aguilar): Yeah. So what’s been like a favorite project of yours that you’ve been working on during the course of this internship?

(Paulina Riffey): Right now, I would say I enjoy the Antarctic Sun Podcast, just because it is, it talks about all the effort it takes into maintaining research stations in Antarctica. And I just didn’t realize just how much goes into it, how much logistics and technology and time. So it’s pretty fascinating. But I do enjoy working on Borne the Battle a lot too, because it’s interesting to listen to different Veteran stories. Each Veteran comes in with completely different story from when they were in the military and what they started doing after the military. You have Veterans who after service went to become the wrestling stars or Veterans who just opened non-profits. It’s just, it’s always something new.

(Serena Aguilar): Yeah, that does sound really interesting. So, so it’s almost like while you’re still working on this project, you’re still like enjoying the stories and what you’re learning. Would you consider yourself like normally a pretty big podcast listener or is this kind of something that once you started having this work, you got more into?

(Paulina Riffey): No, I listen to a lot of podcasts, mostly true crime, true crime comedy podcasts, some kind of psychology true crime podcasts. I’ve been a fan, I’ve been listening to podcasts for a few years now.

(Serena Aguilar): Yeah, that makes sense. So it’s kind of, it’s fun, but it’s still work.

(Paulina Riffey): Yes.

(Serena Aguilar): That’s an awesome balance. What sort of skills do you think you may have gotten over the course of this internship? Or maybe something that sharpened over the course of this internship?

(Paulina Riffey): It’s my first virtual internship or virtual work in general. So I have learned a lot of new skills in regard to virtual workplace. I’ve never used Trello or Slack before. And so I believe there’s been a learning process that, for that too. And just kind of, I think this internship helped me improve my communications skills, teamwork. I constantly talk with other people just kind of, when we work on the same project. Just go back and forth. So I think that that was a very helpful, especially in the times where most, more and more jobs goes virtual. So is this something that’s definitely going to be useful in future.

(Serena Aguilar): Oh, absolutely. I, the only internships that I’ve done have been virtual, so I have no idea of what an in-person one feels like. What do you think is one of the big differences between like virtual work and in-person?

(Paulina Riffey): I think for the virtual work, you really have to be organized and you really have to have strong time management skills, because when you work from home, there’s just so many distractions. You have your TV, you have your chores, you have your phone, you have your cats, and it’s just, it’s easy to get distracted. So you gotta make sure, the way I do it for each day, I just establish each goal for a day. Let’s say on Monday, I’ll do an episode of Borne the Battle. Tuesday I’ll do an episode of this, and just kind of make sure I reach my goal every day, because when you just go to like a traditional work, you know, you don’t have to worry about schedule, time management, because you’re already, already at that place. It’s more structured. And for the virtual work, you have to create that structure yourself, pretty much.

(Serena Aguilar): Yeah. Yeah. Creating a structure for myself has definitely been difficult. Do you have, kind of in creating a structure for yourself? Do you have any advice to people who might be struggling for this and maybe me as well? Cause I struggle with it just a bit.

(Paulina Riffey): I think, just start simple. Just write down what do you need to do for, for the next day, for the next week. I’m sure there are apps you can use for scheduling calendars. Or just writing on a piece of paper and just work on sticking to it. I know it’s sometimes it’s hard. You want maybe, put that work for another day, but you keep putting the work for another day, then you’re going to end up working with 10 different projects because you were kind of slacking during the week. So, I think it’s just, writing down for myself just helped a lot.

(Serena Aguilar): Keeping like a to do list.

(Paulina Riffey): Yeah, it sounds so simple, but I think it works.

(Serena Aguilar): Sometimes the simple stuff works the best. Thank you for that. So not to put you in any sort of panic. But do you have any like future career goals of yours? Whether that’s like a very specific, I know exactly what I want to do for my career, or maybe something more general.

(Paulina Riffey): Still on the line, but this summer, if everything goes well, I’m gonna graduate with my bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice.

(Serena Aguilar): Congratulations.

(Paulina Riffey): Thank you. Not yet. It’s early, anything can happen. And I hope to do my masters in mental health counseling and like a dream career would be to provide mental health services for the military, for soldiers, Veterans, and families. My husband is active duty. And kind of been part of this lifestyle, this community for almost eight years now. And there are some unique mental health challenges in this specific community. And I’d kind of be, I kind of want to work with that. I hope.

(Serena Aguilar): Yeah, that is amazing. Both of my parents served in the Navy actually. Yeah. And I remember like in elementary school, cause they had an elementary school on the base that we grew up on. They would have these like puppet shows about how to deal with your parent deploying. I just remember it being so strange like this, this is the help we get. This is… Okay then. I guess.

(Paulina Riffey): I can, I can imagine it’s, it’s kind of challenging to talk to children about it since even adults struggle with the whole deployment thing, post deployment, during deployment, it can be hard it’s for family.

(Serena Aguilar): Oh, yeah. Especially for kids being like, well, why can’t we know when they’re coming home. That was a big thing for my family. So how would you say that this internship is helping your future career goals? Whether that’s like technical skills with improving your writing abilities or more soft skills with like improving confidence, industry know-how, that sort of thing.

(Paulina Riffey): Confidence. Definitely. I’m usually pretty shy and socially awkward person. So just kind of being able to communicate in for Slack or sometimes video calls with other interns, does help. Work on, not just confidence, but also just communicating. Like these day and age, a lot of mental health counseling goes through zoom or just virtual. So maybe using that way to communicate with patients in the future. And then Borne the Battle, and the internship is, it’s founded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and one of my goals is to work with the VA, as their counselor. So it connects a little bit, but I think I mostly decided to, go for transcription because of my love for podcasts.

(Serena Aguilar): That is so understandable. I mean like I’m my future career goal is foreign service. So like for me, thank you, for me the podcast hosts for me is about getting used to hearing people’s stories, understand that there’s people behind every single story and every single action. That there’s like reasons behind of it.

So there’s so many, like, it’s amazing to me hearing how people are like, well, I want to do this, which doesn’t sound like my career, like what I’m doing now in the internship. But if you look deeper, there is so much connection. And like for you having that experience, working with the VA, I mean, you’re hearing all of these Veterans stories, so you’re hearing how things directly impacted them.

(Paulina Riffey): Exactly. And if I’m ever lucky to work with Veterans, a lot of Borne the Battle episodes, talk about the VA benefits, mental health, mental health apps. They, the host asks Veteran as they talk about their mental struggles challenges a lot too. So it is also something, might be useful for me when I will be working with Veterans in the future.

(Serena Aguilar): You already have, you’ve got some, well, even in your personal life, you have a lot of different experience of hearing the struggles related to mental health and you knowing the people behind the policies and how it’s going to affect people is definitely going to be helpful.

(Paulina Riffey): Exactly.

(Serena Aguilar): Yeah, that’s very respectful, respectful. So, just to kind of wrap everything up, coming to it in like a closing statement, what would you say is a big piece of advice that you would give to anybody who’s trying to apply for internships or trying to figure out like what internship to apply for.

(Paulina Riffey): I think it’s important to assess your own skills. Know that you’re not only good at right now, but skills you want to work at and find internships that can fit your skills. Will also teach you new things and… There are so many virtual internships available right now. I remember when I learned about this internship, it was through my college and they basically send us this very, very long different lists of available internship positions, there was hundreds, hundreds, hundreds of them. So just, I think it’s possible for everyone to find something for themselves. There’s truly such a variety of different kinds of internships, writing, transcribing, podcasting, data entry, IT… It is just, there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

(Serena Aguilar): Absolutely. And also, just being like, you don’t have to do something that’s directly related to your major.

(Paulina Riffey): Oh yeah, just something you were interested. So just a hobby. (Serena Aguilar): Exactly. I mean, that’s what we were just talking about. This kind of us being like, it’s fun, but it builds skills.

(Paulina Riffey): Exactly. There’s no more, fun way to just to learn new things through just having fun.

(Serena Aguilar): It’s amazing. Thank you so much for talking with me. It’s been great having you on here today.

(Paulina Riffey): Thank you. It was really interesting experience.

(Serena Aguilar): Yeah, of course. It’s also really nice to like talk to somebody who is family to somebody in the service. Like that’s kind of, it’s an interesting sense of comradery.

(Paulina Riffey): Yeah, it is truly one big community.

(Serena Aguilar): Oh yeah. There’s always somebody who’s there to be like, Hey, I went through the exact same thing. We can sit down, we can talk about it.

(Paulina Riffey): Exactly. It’s a good thing to think about it.

(Serena Aguilar): Okay. Thank you so much for coming on here today. I’m really glad that I got a chance to talk to you.

(Paulina Riffey): Thank you for having me.

(Serena Aguilar): And thank you to everybody who listened in today and I hope to see you next time. Bye.


(Serena Aguilar): Thank you so much for listening, please don’t forget to subscribe. And if you could give us a five-star rating, we’d really appreciate it. For more information about joining the DME interns’ team, please visit You can also follow us on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Once again, my name is Serena and I hope to see you all next time. Bye.