Candice Allgood is the first woman college graduate on her father’s side of the family and the third college graduate on her mother’s side. Allgood worked three jobs while she was a full-time student to fund her education. She is now a production coordinator for Shark Week at Discovery Communications.
This is her story:
Growing up I always thought I was going to be a veterinarian. When I was in high school, I always had this love for animals and we were able to do a ‘bring your child to work day’ day. If you weren’t interested in doing what your parents did, you could choose someone else to shadow. I chose my dog’s veterinarian, because I wanted to be a veterinarian.
I spent a week at the veterinarian, and saw a cat get a hysterectomy, a dog get neutered, and a dog get put down. I can handle the first two things, but I can’t handle the third thing. I was an emotional basket case. I had no idea it was like that, so being a veterinarian was out of the question. On top of that, I had an extreme allergy attack and I couldn’t figure it out why. Soon after, I found out I’m extremely allergic to cats.
So, I had my love for animals, but I still had no idea what I want to study or what I wanted to do. I started doing many internships. I did one through my mom’s company, which I quickly found that I didn’t want to be a lawyer and I didn’t want to be an accountant.
Then I shadowed my mom’s friend who was a teacher and I thought maybe I could be a teacher. Then I realized I couldn’t see myself doing that for a long time, but, I do love children. So I thought, what about psychology? I always succeeded in chemistry and biology and all of the science classes.
When I rolled into college, I enrolled as a psychology major and I really loved everything that I was doing with psychology. When I was getting towards the tail end of my second year of college, I was like, I don’t know if this is exactly what I want to do.
So I actually took off a year from college just to kind of figure out what I wanted to do and what route I wanted to go. And I was taking like one or two classes here and there, almost like electives.
Then, I traveled to San Diego on a long weekend vacation with my boyfriend at the time. I fell in love with San Diego and I was like, I’m not finding what I want in Maryland, so let me move to San Diego.
I was like, okay, well I can’t go to school. I can’t afford school on an out-of-state tuition so I’ll just work for six months in San Diego. You have to live in the state of California for six months before you become a resident to then be eligible for in-state tuition.
So that’s exactly what I did.
When it was time to sign up for classes in San Diego, I signed up for general studies, so I could take any classes that I wanted.
And that’s how I kind of fell into broadcast journalism. I was walking around campus during one of my long breaks one day and I went into a building. When I walked into the door, I could see to the left that there was this big studio that was like a news room. I was like, oh, what do they do here?
I was just walking through the hallways and checking things out. Then the dean of the program stops me in the hallway and she was like, you don’t belong here.
She brought me into her office and she was like, this is what we do here. She explained, we do news broadcast – you get to learn how to edit all of your own videos, you go out and you shoot all of your own footage, you’ll learn everything from being a sports broadcaster or sports reporter to being Mr. Regular News Caster, weather person, you kind of go through all of the roles.
That is when I was like, oh, well that’s interesting. I’m was really intrigued. And she suggested I take a couple courses the next semester.
So like she set me all up. That is sort of where this dream of going down this path of getting to shark week really started to evolve.
All because I was curious and nosy.
After taking those first four courses in broadcast journalism, I realized that I really enjoyed it.
I was learning what I didn’t like and what I did like. I learned what I was strong in and what I wasn’t strong in. I was good at editing, but it wasn’t like my absolute strength. When it came to filming something, I was good at it too, but there were other people in my class who really excelled in it. Where I was really good, was the interview process and getting to know people and really digging in and trying to piece the story together.
I still was very much searching for what I wanted to do. My mom had me when she was 16 years old. My mom doesn’t have a college degree and my Dad doesn’t have a college degree, but they’re both very successful in their careers. They are extremely really hardworking, but college wasn’t ever a main focus in my household.
I’m the first woman on my dad’s side of the family to graduate with a college degree and I’m the third person on my mom’s side of the family to graduate with a college degree.
That second semester at San Diego was when I decided that I was going to switch majors and I switched it to television production.
I have two associate’s degrees, three certificates and my bachelor’s in marketing.
I would say it’s all been an uphill battle. Everything that I’ve accomplished has not come easy. I had to pay for college myself. I still am in tremendous debt from it, but it’s been all worth it.
I would say the biggest challenge was getting my bachelor’s degree. The reason it took me so long is because I had to work full time in order to pay for it. I needed money for rent, for food, for books, for updated editing software, for my classes as well as paying for a car because when you live in San Diego you have to have a car.
When I decided to move from Maryland to San Diego, I didn’t have any family. I had no family, I had no friends and I was doing it all on my own. When I was living in Maryland with my mom, the moment I graduated from high school, she told me I had to start paying rent.
That was probably the biggest challenge – just having to support myself while also working towards a goal, a major dream of mine, which was to graduate with a degree.
I worked three jobs and I was going to school full time. I don’t know how I did it.
So when I entered in to discovery, I entered in as an intern. I had moved back to Maryland at this point and I had transferred. My mom had gotten diagnosed with breast cancer, so decided I needed to help her.
I was very, very fortunate, because all of my classes transferred. It was unbelievable that that happened. And I was very fortunate that the program in Montgomery County was actually more advanced than the one in San Diego, so I was going into a better program with all my credits.
When I was at Montgomery College, I had gotten approached by the head of the department, and she’d said, “you’ve been busting your butt working as a manager, a bartender, a hostess at a restaurant, as well as helping your family out and going to school. We have started this partnership with Discovery Channel and there is an opportunity to work a paid internship. This is your opportunity to get out of the restaurant business and to start your career.”
I was actually headed to like Philly for the weekend when I had gotten a call to come in and interview for the internship, so I asked my friend to drop me off for a quick interview. My friend waited at the parking lot.
I just went in and told them I would love the opportunity to be an intern for them for six weeks. The following Monday I’d gotten a call saying that they were going to offer me the internship.
My mom had always told me, to get far in this career you have to network like crazy. After a week into my internship, I sat down with my mentor and I said, would you mind if you could put me in touch with some people who you really look up to in the company, so that I can start to see how people got to where they’re at.
I had gotten an opportunity to shadow someone in network post-production. They are the last people to touch every single program before it goes to air. I mean it’s a lot more detailed than that and there’s a lot of little things that happen, but that was pretty much what they did. I thought, oh that could be fun.
I reported back to the head of that department, and I said I really enjoy what you guys do in this department and I could really see me transitioning to a role like this, especially with everything that I’ve learned in the media center. And she goes, “well, I want to hire you.”
A week after my internship ended, she had called me and offered me a job.
I got to work on three shark weeks, but from a post production standpoint and I realized that I wanted to be on the production side of shark week. Because the producers on the network side were my clients, I was really able to make relationships with all of the producers, including the producers that were overseeing shark week.
I always made myself available for them. During my time in post production, during shark week, I worked a lot, like, I worked like 65 hours one week. So I didn’t sleep.
So much that was going on between shark after dark, which was a live event, to the deliverables that were coming in the day of air. It was just, it was an absolute mess.
After my first shark week, I sat down with producers and I was like, I think we could do a better job. I was like, there’s no reason why these shows should be delivering the day of air or even the week of air, what can I do to help? And they were like, well we just don’t know how to answer any of the editing, technical questions. And I was like, let me help you.
That was really my first step into showing them that I really wanted to be not only part of shark week, but that I wanted to be part of production, because I could be a good asset to them.
One of my producers, who was one of one of my clients in post production, told me that they were looking for someone to work on Shark Week and she put my name in, because she knew that was something I really wanted.
I interviewed and, actually the guy who hired me, I was not the first choice. He was going to hire someone else. Then his executive producer interviewed me and he was like, nope, I want her. He was like, she’s going to take care of all of the deliverables, all of the technical issues as well as learn creative.
I have been doing all of that. 2019 will be my fourth shark week on the production side.
I take a lot of pride in what I do. I think it’s because I do have a passion for animals and I love my job and I love the people I work with.
We are doing something good, you know, sharks are an apex Predator and if you kill them, our whole entire ecosystem gets off balance. Who knows what would happen. It’s so important that we keep these animals alive.
My sister is 12 years younger than me and these are things that I remind her every single day:
Be positive and surrounding yourself with people who support what you and understand what you’re working toward. Surround yourself with people who are uplifting, even if it’s just like helping you study or someone who will just listen to you when you need to vent. Having those positive, uplifting people in your life will get you through so many things and will help you push forward during the most difficult times in life.
Take an internship, take as many internships as you possibly can and take and make them all different kinds of internships, because you never know what you’re going to fall in love with. That is probably the biggest advice that I could give to any college student, because that’s exactly how I ended up in shark week.
The third thing is just just realize that life sucks, but there are going to be more good times than bad times. And during those negative times, just put a smile on your face and fake it until you make it.