I learned that it’s not a bad thing to ask a ton of questions at an internship

by Teena Nawabi

I interned this semester with “The Call,” an interactive news show that feeds off the calls and emails of viewers. It’s not a traditional news show, so I was confused about what to expect. On my first day, I was introduced to the producer, Natasha Alagarasan. She then introduced me to the show’s host, John Schiumo, and the associate producer, Jenni Kim. Then, Jenni took over. She showed me the program they used, called Dalet. I was intimidated because I had never used it before, but all it really is is a different, less advanced version of Final Cut Pro. It’s easy to master, and since we learn how to use Final Cut in class at Stony Brook, I think it was even easier for me to learn than for other interns.

Coming in to my internship, I had learned that asking questions is always a good way to learn, so I asked as many as I could. I’m glad I did, because every question I had was met with an informative answer. NY1 News was the first broadcast channel I interned with. I didn’t know what to expect. On one hand, I had heard from classmates with experience at NY1 that it was a very hands-on and interactive internship. On the other hand, I recalled horror stories from other students about fetching their producers coffee and starting at a computer all day. So it was safe to say that coming in, I had no idea what to expect.

Over the course of my time at “The Call,” I helped reporter Rachel Smith conduct man-on-the-street interviews, or MOS, cut SOTS and VO for the show, ran teleprompter, and practiced writing scripts. I also went out with a shooter and reporter on a day that “The Call” wasn’t airing.

I learned a lot about shooting from Rachel. She taught me how to hold a camera so that it was steady without using a tripod (it’s apparently mostly in the footwork!), what kinds of shots to get, and just general information about technology used in the broadcast news world. From Jenni, John and Natasha, I learned about things like cutting SOTS that were both accurate and compelling and using “broadcast language” while writing a script. It was a very educational experience, and I never felt that I was doing “busy work” or being undermined because I was just an intern.

Going into the internship, I wish I had known how important it was to really put yourself out there. I kind of thought I’d just walk in, finish my internship, and come out a better journalist on my own. That was untrue. I needed to ask questions and be somewhat pushy about doing things. Sometimes the producers get busy, and they sort of forget that you’ve finished your work. I’d always felt bad asking for more work, but in this internship you have to be assertive – they actually appreciate that.

Any SOJ student looking into an internship with NY1 News will not be disappointed. Everyone there is extremely friendly, down to the doorman. If you come in ready to work and show the staff you genuinely want to be there, they’ll pick up on that and share what they know with you. My advice is to ask a lot of questions, because that saved me in a lot of cases, but remember the answers to them so you’re not asking the same questions over and over again. Also, be prepared to receive criticism. Your work isn’t always going to be perfect, and the suggestions that the producers make are just as much for you as it is for them. They genuinely want you to learn; most of them were interns themselves at one point. Handle criticism, ask questions, and be inquisitive, and an internship at NY1 News could be one of the best learning experiences of your undergrad career. It certainly was one of mine.