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The Role Of An Intern
Ahhh…summer is upon us, and in our industry that means an abundance of farm fresh produce, hot weather and summer interns. Summer produce is the best! Hot weather we could do without, if it weren’t necessary for the natural evolution of a farm. And summer interns, well, they are great.
All in all, we LOVE summer interns. Their fresh and untarnished perspectives on the business world and life in general make us smile. Lord knows when I was a blossoming 20-year old student intern at CNN, I didn’t know squat about “the real world” and what it took to survive in the fast paced world where journalism meets politics meets disaster. At the time, I was naïve and I was determined. My mother and I had driven all the way from Lubbock, Texas in my two-door sports car to Washington D.C. My first day on the job, I met Larry King.
Quickly I was awe struck and realized that I was a peon destined for grunt work. Day two on the job, I was to report to the House side correspondent at the Capitol, where I would keep my mouth shut, my ears open and my head “sponging.” As I walked up toward what used to be the press side entrance of the Capitol, I was stopped by military personnel who demanded that they see my credentials. You see, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in the building so security was on high alert. I eventually made my way into the building after a security clearance check and full body search (nice).
Next day on the job, the Prime Minister had left the building and my boss at the time, the House Correspondent for CNN, asked me to follow him to the front lawn where we would conduct a live report on the latest with the Whitewater scandal. Standing on the green lawn of our nation’s Capitol, Bob handed me the microphone, flipped on the camera and said, “Give me a 20 second run down on Whitewater. America is watching. Go.”
I stopped breathing. I stood there, like a complete moron…wearing my best navy blue suit, heels and pearls and could not get a word out. Sure I knew little tidbits about the scandal, but I was simply unable to report on it, even the little that I knew. Again, my ego and “know it all” attitude went down the tubes. I realized then that I might be in the wrong profession.
The next day, I was at the CNN bureau and begging the internship coordinator to let me have a shot at a production job at the bureau. The Capitol gig was way too high profile for me. Not gonna be on camera? Ok. Get behind a desk. So, they gave me a shot at CNNfN which was the financial network at the time. All in all, I had a great experience. I learned my place quickly. I kept my mouth shut and I learned as much as I could amongst the magnificent brains that I worked alongside each day. Before I left, the network aired a package that one of the other interns and I had put together. I’ll never forget as the production team sat and watched as our package ran live on television. My parents were at home watching live, too. It was amazing and a journey that I will not soon forget.
And as we welcome in our new summer interns at DMA and with our clients, I wonder…what types of challenges and lessons can we really teach our bright young minds of the future? How will we lead them to do what they are best at doing? How will we sculpt them for tomorrow?
CNN sculpted me.
Posted by: The Optimist (Megan Zweig)