July 8, 2012 by Brooke Anderson
Two weeks ago I got the chance to be in the digital studio to help with the filming of a children’s show that accompanies textbooks to help kids learn English. It was a nice change from being in the intern pit and a fantastic opportunity to get to know a few more people in different parts of the building and to see how a television (albeit a fairly small production) is filmed. My job entailed little more that being the slate girl, which meant getting to use the black and white clapper and saying “Scene six, close up, take three” for each cut. Which is very cool and exciting…for about the first hour or so; but what I most enjoyed was seeing and getting to know the very friendly and witty actors who host the show (a British pair for the British version of the show, and an American pair for the American version) and how they were so professional and instantly put on their “host-of-a-children’s-television-show” faces as soon as the director yelled “Action!” A couple of the other interns had helped out with the show before me; there is a rotating schedule of who goes each week to experience helping out, but my experience proved to be a little bit better than the previous interns. Towards the end of my first day, the British actors had nearly finished up their scenes (it was a jammed packed day, they had to film two episodes in one day) and had moved on to doing voice-over work for the accompanying animated cartoons that go along with the show. But there was a problem, two of the cartoons required two little girl voices, and there was only one female actor. So seeing as how I was both conveniently a girl and British, I ended up being roped in to be the second voice! It was not as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be and everyone seemed quite happy and impressed with what I did, and now I can randomly add voice-work to my resume! The second day proved to be great as well with the director taking us out to lunch and then to a gelato shop that he co-owned so it was on the house. Overall it was a fantastic experience and once the other interns have had their turn, I may volunteer to do a round 2.
After that week’s excitement and along with prompting from my professor for the other weekly blog I do for the DCSI class, and my own recent thoughts I’ve been asking: could I see myself working at Nat Geo in the future? One thing that seems to be frequently mentioned at Nat Geo is that a fair percentage of those who work there now were previously interns. With every formal intern lunch meeting that we have, in which people who work for Nat Geo speak with the current batch of interns to give advice, they always like to stress that we could possibly snag a job with National Geographic in the very near future. There seems to be a constant reminder that we need to be on our A-game if we want to be hired. And that’s fine for those who really do hunger for a real position at Nat Geo, but for me those little reminders that are supposed to inspire competition and initiative don’t really worry me. Yes I know I should be making connections and getting myself out there as much as possible, which I try to do, but there is always this constant reminder in the back of my mind that I have two more years of school and experiences before I seriously need to be out in the real world hunting for a job that will hopefully jump-start the career that I want.
This internship has allowed me to glimpse into the future and to get a taste of what’s to come and I really like what I see. However, I am not too sure whether National Geographic is the right fit for me, which sounds crazy as for many it is their absolute dream job. Rather than inspire me to work at National Geographic, my internship has instead confirmed that I am definitely in the right career field. After witnessing all the different aspects that make up television production at Nat Geo, I can now say that I feel truly comfortable and excited about the choice I’ve made in my major and direction of my career path, yet I’m not sure whether Nat Geo is the right institution in which to pursue it. In no means am I disregarding the wonderful time and experience I am having at my internship, only that it has showed me that my real passion lies within narrative television and film rather than the documentary and non-fiction productions that Nat Geo puts out. Sometimes that’s just the way things work out; I knew before accepting my position at Nat Geo this summer that documentary and non-fiction television has never been a passion or a favourite of mine, but within the limits of the Washington D.C. area it would have been very hard to find the perfect dream internship for me (I’d probably have more luck in NYC or LA) and who could honestly say no to National Geographic? National Geographic has allowed me to get my foot in the door, to live and experience my aspirations, and to help me discover which exact direction I want to take. So if I had to sum up my experience at Nat Geo seeing as how I only have 4(!) more weeks left, I would say that National Geographic has been a wonderful stepping stone for where I want to go, what I want to see, and who I want to be.