School was the furthest thing from my mind as I enjoyed the last days of summer lounging by the pool and goofing around with friends back home in Boulder, Colo. Then, two weeks before returning to GW for my sophomore year, I received an e-mail from my media history professor informing students about an internship opportunity at CNN.
My heart pounded at the prospect of interning at a news station I watched every day. While I was hopeful, I never actually thought I would get the position. But to my surprise, after a chaotic two days spent e-mailing, updating my résumé and writing a cover letter, I landed the gig.
When I first pictured the internship, I imagined watching Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid from the press gallery in the Senate chamber. My actual role turned out to be not quite as glamorous, but an amazing learning experience nonetheless.
Typically, I work with the Capitol Hill unit to put together packages for the 4 p.m. Situation Room broadcast. My day begins when I log into “iNews,” a program that allows me to summarize and save information in reporter’s or producer’s files that they can access from anywhere. I am often asked to transcribe congressional hearings or interviews and highlight quotes the reporter may want to use for the package of the day.
Other responsibilities include searching for videos to be used in the packages. This often requires getting in touch with CNN headquarters in Atlanta or calling small affiliates around the country. This past month my producer was on the campaign trail covering the battleground Senate races in Minnesota, North Carolina and Oregon. She had no access to tapes, so I was flooded with e-mails to find videos needed for creating packages on the road. It was my busiest two weeks, but also the most exciting because I felt they trusted me to help them get their jobs done.
I was initially intimidated by the idea of working at the nation’s top news station. I did not know what they would expect of me or what I could expect from them. But after a week or two of learning the computer-news programs and techniques, I stopped feeling nervous. Now, I feel like I contribute to the process of putting together a newscast rather than feeling like an “inexperienced intern.”
Another surprise has been how supportive and laid-back many in the newsroom are. The producers let me listen in on conference calls about the day’s news package, the editors invite me into their editing booths as they put together last-minute packages, and even Brianna Kieler, the on-air reporter I often help, has acknowledged a job well done. And yes, I have met Wolf Blitzer.
It has often been difficult to leave work and go to class. I’m always learning something new about how a news station operates or about the way the government works. I get to observe the professionals I hope to be like and the officials I may write about in the future. I always thought I wanted to be a print journalist, but this internship has opened up the prospect of writing for TV or working as a producer. Also, because I am a journalism-history double major, it lets me combine my passion for both politics and writing.
Working in media no longer seems like a far-off dream. CNN has helped transform my goal of becoming a journalist or news producer into more of a reality. Now, not only am I surrounded by history and living where history is made, but I have had the chance to help record history as well.