July 25, 2012 by Brooke Anderson
I really thought waking up every day at 8 this summer would be the death of me. As any typical college student knows, scheduling a class before 10am is often going to cause more than a couple of skipped classes or inadvertent naps in the back row. But surprisingly, it’s been not too difficult to drag myself out of bed every morning to make the 45 minute commute to work; in fact it’s been relatively easy. So I had to ask myself why a class at 9am in which it would take less than 10 minutes to walk to, and would last a total of 50 minutes of sitting and listening could cause such grief in my life when I actually look forward to my many minutes on the crowded metro, my somewhat long stroll through the morning sunshine on busy streets full of harried commuters, and eventual destination to a frankly stuffy office affectionately called the intern pit to sit under fluorescent lights for 8 hours straight? It’s because I love what I do at Nat Geo TV. If I’ve learned anything at my internship this summer it’s a confirmation that I’m heading in the right career direction. Although the actual duties as an intern are not what I am aiming to do ultimately, I look around at all the various producers, associate producers, coordinators, editors, etc. and realize the endless possibilities and potential of what I could do, and that makes me excited.
Working in the media and television specifically, has shown me that you can make your job into whatever you want it to be. In regards to the kind of work environment, fast-paced vs. quiet and contemplative; clear direction or free reign; team work or solitude; thinking rather than doing, television allows the freedom to choose your desired work environment. If you’re more of a doer, who likes to do tasks individually with structure, and likes to take their time in a quiet environment, be an editor. If you’re more of a thinker, a people person, who likes to be surrounded by hustle bustle and to think on your toes, then you would do well as a producer or in development. The possibilities are endless. What’s become exponentially clear to me in my 9 weeks so far at the internship is that in this business you truly carve your own path. It is a career that is constantly in motion, you move from one task to the next, to different projects, to different shows, to different companies, even to different countries. It’s a career path that encourages change. One thing I know about myself is that I get easily bored. I guess the restlessness that I feel when I’ve been in one place too long stems from the constant moving that goes along with being a military brat. So when I’m constantly busy I’m happy and with saying that, media seems to be the ideal work environment to soothe my itchy feet. I’m still unsure of which exact direction I want to take in this career field, but I know that I have the potential to choose the where, what, when, why, and how about my job and that’s the thought that continues to get me up every morning.
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.
June 20, 2012 by Brooke Anderson
This week has been more exciting than usual, it seems as if each and every week I grow more comfortable in my work environment and every day I get to learn something new and interesting about the business. However I guess I must admit that the Explorer’s Symposium that began this past Wednesday played more than a minor role in the excitement of this week at National Geographic. Encouraged by our supervisors to take in as much of the panels and discussions from a collection of National Geographic’s finest, bravest, and most engaging explorers from around the world, including director James Cameron (!!!) who showed us a sneak peak of his film that documents his recent descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, I managed to attend 6 out of the 8 panels. The panels were engaging, fascinating, and most significantly: inspiring. I’ve never wanted to just get up and explore the world more so than sitting in that auditorium with those few lucky individuals whose jobs are to experience adventure each and every day. It was truly a special event and opportunity that I feel very privileged to have been a part of and it will definitely stand out as a highlight of my summer.
Because of the excitement of the Explorer’s Symposium last week I really did not feel as if I had much downtime as I had in the previous weeks. Monday, however, did start off slowly so with nothing assigned to me. Generally I have learned that some days are just like that and if there is no work to go around then you must keep yourself busy or ask to share the tasks your fellow interns have been assigned. But what I have also learned is that the flow of work can be unpredictable, because no sooner than I had returned to my desk back from lunch, I had received a task from a producer and in the subsequent hours would be assigned at least three more things to do and in fact ended up being the last intern to leave that night. So what I have learned so far is that the unpredictable flux and nature of the work load in this office, and probably the television business in general, is something you have to adapt to quickly in a sort of “go with the flow” attitude.
Some of the tasks I get assigned would probably be considered boring or menial to most, but I choose to learn whatever I can from them. For example, when filing or shredding papers I take some time out of my task to actually read the sometimes hundreds of papers that I am dealing with, and some of the papers can be insightful to the business and interesting at the same time. Looking at scripts, release papers, and the questions from this year’s National Geographic Bee have proved to be both informative and interesting. Transcribing is also hard and monotonous work but somehow at the same time one of my favorite tasks to be assigned because I get to see the rough cuts of shows and also by focusing so intently upon listening to the dialogue and camera movements, it gets my mind thinking about how and why the producer chose that angle, what it would be like to shoot the show, why they chose to edit it that way, etc. I find that transcribing really helps me get into the mind of a producer and I think that’s what I enjoy most about it. Each week gives me an introduction to more and more different tasks so hopefully since this week isn’t quite so exhilaratingly busy with such a major event, I will get to discover even more aspects and avenues of the business.
June 7, 2012 by Brooke Anderson
The night before I started my internship I was surprisingly a lot less anxious than I had anticipated to be, and I felt weirdly calm for only having a night’s sleep between me and the beginning of what is essentially my professional career. However the calmness didn’t seem to have carried over to the next morning as I met with a fellow William & Mary DC Summer Institute student (Erin Spencer who also has a W&M blog, check it out!) to grab a quick bite to eat and to feel some solidarity as we calmed our nerves about our first days. But almost immediately all my anxieties about the day slowly ebbed as I met my supervisor and was given a tour of the building. Seeing ‘National Geographic Television’ on the frosted doors to the office it almost felt surreal but right at the same time. Making my way through the building and meeting a dozen people a minute was a bit overwhelming and as I finally sat down at my desk in what the staff affectionately call “The Intern Pit” amongst the other four interns who were all effectively and confidently busy at work. A phrase popped into my head that I would repeat in my head throughout my first day, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
But surprisingly my first day did not actually require me to do any official tasks, rather only simple, mundane things like signing papers with HR, getting my badge, library orientation, and setting up my e-mail, it was rather anti-climactictic in all honesty. The next two days proved to be somewhat more stimulating and active, I was assigned research work for the show ‘Monster Fish’, and although glad to be made useful and to have work to occupy the long day of 10-6, researching salmon is just as boring as you would think it is even in the context of doing it for an internationally broadcast television show. Luckily I was granted the nice break of having Friday off for the policy of Green Friday that Nat Geo implements every few weeks or so during the summer in order to be more earth friendly by turning off the majority of the electricity in the building and only some employees coming in if necessary. My three day weekend gave me time to reflect and absorb my first three days at Nat Geo TV and when I returned to work this Monday I was ready to go and excited about what was in store for me. I heard from various people that my first week had been rather odd because it was an uncharacteristically slow week as well as there had only been three full work days. I was repeatedly reassured that summer is Nat Geo TV’s busiest time and that I would be swamped with work in no time. Already they have been proven right; yesterday and today have been crammed full with assignments and tasks and I feel as if I have fallen into a steady routine, but I have also realized that my supervisor is not just going to hand me work to do, I have to actively seek it and ask for it (it’s true what they say about internships being what you make of them). Admittedly the first days of my internship were not exactly what I had been expecting, but already I am starting to feel more comfortable about the workplace, its atmosphere, and the people around the office and I eagerly look forward to what tasks and opportunities await me.
May 29, 2012 by Brooke Anderson
It’s hard to believe that this week I’ll be starting my internship at National Geographic Television. Real Life. The last week of the class for the DC Summer Institute passed by in absolutely no time, as did my extended weekend home due to Memorial Day. For the longest it has felt as if the first day of my internship was ages away and suddenly it has snuck up on me and I suspect it feels the same for the other DC summer institute fellows.
The second week of the class was just as fast-paced and fascinating as the first. We visited The Library of Congress’ Audio and Visual Conservation, American Film Institutes’ Silver Theatre, The Newseum, Discovery Communications, and the National Gallery as well as a visit from our special guest speaker, Governor Kaine on Friday morning for all of the institutes. After Governor Kaine’s short but amusing pep talk we went through a crash course on what to do and what not to do for our internships this summer; including topics ranging from how to interact with our employees, how to stand out from the other interns and how to dress appropriately (FYI NEVER wear flip flops.) Then the rest of the afternoon was spent playing a rousing game of kickball in the sweltering sun. Every institute was encouraged to play as were the professors and everyone in the William & Mary DC office. Choosing to sit this particular game out in part because of the insane heat and my sorely lacking skills in kickball, I instead acted as unofficial photographer. I got some fantastic shots and learned that sports photography could potentially be a contingency plan if my career in television and film doesn’t quite pan out.
After spending well over 2 hours out in the hot sun, the institutes were free to disperse and go enjoy their long Memorial Day weekends which for me meant heading over to Union Station to catch a 4-hour bus ride back home. I arrived around one in the morning, disheveled and desperately longing for my full-sized bed back home. When I finally was able to collapse on my bed, it felt as if I had been away for 2 months rather than 2 weeks. It was great to see my parents, brother, and pets this weekend which I must admit the majority of which was spent sleeping. Yet I’m glad that I returned home this weekend for I feel as if there will be hardly any chance to go home again once my internship begins and I fully begin to embrace the city life or maybe as it begins to embrace me?
May 24, 2012 by Brooke Anderson
My first week of my summer in DC is almost over; it seems like an age ago that I was completing my last final at W&M when in reality it has only been a week and a half. Strangely, the first nervous jitters and anxiety that I felt leaving home for a whole entire summer and moving into my apartment on Sunday afternoon have now completely dissipated. It took a surprisingly short time to adjust to the hustle and bustle of our nation’s capital, the organized chaos of the metro, a 9 to 5 schedule, wearing “grown-up clothes”, and waking up way earlier than 9am (something I haven’t had to do since high school). The straight 6 hours we have in class was at first difficult to adjust to but class is never short of excitement. Already during this first week of class (designed to include guest lectures and site visits that pertain to our subject of New Media), we’ve heard from speakers from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and DC Shorts film festival and we’ve visited the headquarters of both C-SPAN and National Geographic Society. Hearing from such an amazing collection of individuals and representatives of such hallowed institutions has already confirmed that this summer is going to be one of the most engaging and fulfilling summers of my college career and perhaps my life.
Walking into the doors of National Geographic for the first time, an excitement akin to something I felt as a little kid waiting for Christmas morning to finally arrive overtook me. Knowing that in little over a week I will be working at such a prestigious and fantastic institution is a thrilling sensation. It’s still hard to believe that I was lucky enough to secure an internship in one of world’s foremost publication institutions let alone an internship that is perfectly related to what I hope to pursue as a career. It’s as if I happened to be in the right place and the right time to have applied and been included in such an amazing program and opportunity as the W&M DC Summer Institute. This is the first time that New Media Institute has been included in the summer program, joining the already established and proven successful National Security and Community Engagement Institutes. I feel privileged to be one of the first New Media Summer Institute fellows and also to have the wonderful guidance of Professor Ann Marie Stock as our instructor for the class.
Most of all I feel lucky that I get the chance to discover the wonders of DC this summer. As an admirer of the city dweller’s life, I’ve always wanted to live the metropolitan life and this summer I hope to do just that. I’ve already spent a great afternoon enjoying the sunshine at Smithsonian National Zoological Park and who knows what else I’ll be doing over the next weeks, the possibilities seem endless in a city like DC.