I was pleasantly surprised my first day on the job at 30 Rock. I thought that I was walking into a very corporate environment at Nightly News. My only previous job experience had been working for the family business, and at basketball camps, where the interaction among employees is extremely informal. I expected the working environment and employee interaction at NBC to be vastly different, and I was worried about how I would carry myself.
All my notions about Nightly proved to be false from the onset.
On my very first day, I was approached by Brian Williams who introduced himself despite the fact that I obviously knew who he was. "Welcome, I'm Brian Williams, nice to meet you!" After telling him I went to UNC, he joked that his wife went to Duke and that might cause a problem. I sat in on the 9:30 and 2:30 editorial meetings that day and realized that the Nightly team had a close bond. Everyone seemed to engage with each other in a very informal and friendly fashion. Everyone's opinion was taken into consideration from the executive producer on down. For me, being able to sit in on those meetings was extremely valuable. I learned that the biggest dilemma the team faces each day is having more news than they have time to broadcast.
Sure, interns were expected to adhere to a regular routine of running scripts, making copies and answering phones. However, you learn that everyone in this business was an intern at some point and did the same thing. The combination of the long hours and lack of pay made me thankful I don't have a girlfriend, but it was a small price to pay for the experience I received. I learned a lot about how to produce a national news show from the best people in the business. The interns were able to work with producers, research stories, pitch stories, go on local shoots and observe the editing of stories. We also had a plethora of meetings set up by our great supervisor Barbara Duffy. We met with producers, with Brian, Tom Brokaw, veteran executive Lloyd Siegel, and with David Sternlicht from NBC Legal. Interacting constantly with NBC personnel, both inside and outside of the meetings, naturally helped me from a journalistic standpoint.
However, I feel the true value of the internship came from simply being around a group of people (other interns included) who are engaged in the world we live in. From reading Bob Windrem's background memos to listening to the great retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, I had access to knowledge and information that has truly broadened my world. Whatever I do professionally, I will draw from the wealth of knowledge I gained at NBC.
And yet, despite everything I just said, I think the highlight of my internship could have been answering a phone call for Brian from Paul Newman.