Stop for a second and think about southern California. It’s a region in the southwest United States. It’s known for being a hub for entertainment. It’s where tons of wonderful, not-so-wonderful and absolutely disgusting television programs have been produced. What does this all have to do with me?
Nothing…until a few weeks ago. Then I started interning at CBS.
When I got the call from CBS Human Resources, my immediate response was “[insert
expletive here].” That isn’t to say I wasn’t excited for the opportunity, I was brimming with enthusiasm. That also isn’t to say I was nervous, I definitely felt up for the task of being CBS’ new Photo Intern. The problem was – I already had two internships booked for the summer.
I’m in Medill. Naturally, I want to be a journalist when I leave college. But when I was told that I’d be interviewing for a position in the photo department at CBS, I started to think about all the opportunities that there are in this world, within the journalism field and outside of it. And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to drive into a studio backlot every day as if it was no big deal, because for my whole life it’s been a pretty big deal.
My first encounter with CBS Studio Center occurred when I was in my early years of high school. I found out that one of my favorite bands, the Jonas Brothers (don’t laugh), was getting their own show on the Disney Channel. Obviously I wanted to try out for some role. So I had my dad call the production company pretending to be circumventing our non-existent agent in pursuit of an audition so that I could use my very inexperienced past of acting in school musicals to try out to be on the Disney Channel.
Now I digress, but maybe this little insight will give you some idea of why CBS Studio Center meant so much to me when I heard back from them this spring. So much, in fact, that I reluctantly skipped out on the opportunity to intern at two very reputable news outlets so that I could drive two hours each way from Orange County to Studio City and back again for five days a week over eight weeks. All so that I could be at the studio where they filmed Boy Meets World.
But aside from eating lunch at the house that was used as the front façade
for According to Jim and walking past the soundstage for Parks and Recreation on my way into the office, being a photo intern at CBS has allowed me a lot of insights into what working in the TV world is like. It’s not necessarily glamorous and crazy, but at times it is exactly those things.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve gone from making photocopies (doesn’t every intern do this at one point or another? It’s an important part of the underdog experience, if you ask me) to handling Lucy Liu’s wardrobe to observing and aiding with photo shoots. I’ve met everyone from security guards to publicists to TV crew heads to reality stars to actors and then some. And I’ve barely even scratched the surface.
Right now I’m sitting in my office while my boss and a few of my coworkers are headed south to Comic-Con. In a few weeks we’ll all gather in Beverly Hills to put together a press tour for all the new shows that are premiering on CBS this fall. The next week is one of the rare times during my internship when I will have a breather before a lot of the fall premieres and returning series make their way back into production.
It gives me the time I need to think about all that I’ve been offered just by sending out my resume to an internship opening that I believed would be a long shot. While it would have been instructive and enjoyable to have worked at a publication for my summer internship (and I still plan to pursue more editorial internships after this summer), I think of my CBS opportunity as the groundwork for a career path that I believe will be likewise unpredictable.
Journalism is something I definitely want to do. But it’s also something that requires more than just a skill and a love for writing, more than just experience behind a computer calling sources and gathering quotes for stories. It’s a career path that requires a certain expertise and enthusiasm for a field of study. My field of study is the arts and by putting my leg in the door at a studio, I feel like I’ve gotten to see firsthand what a lot of journalists only get to write about for the duration of their careers.
And I’m pleased with the results. Because the real goal of interning isn’t necessarily to do exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life. If it were, then we’d all go from being interns to being full-time employees. Maybe we wouldn’t even return to school after the experience.
Being an intern at CBS has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. I look to all my subsequent quarters at Northwestern as chances to expand my horizons and learn more about myself and my career goals through varied work opportunities, not just as a writer or a columnist or a blogger (though I am very actively pursuing those roles as well), but as an experimenter in all of the fields and workplaces where I can excel. And it’s all thanks to a surprise phone call that I have had such luck.
About the NU Intern Blogger Program
This summer, over 50 Northwestern University students will be sharing stories about what they are experiencing at their internships from across the country and internationally. Each week new students will share an inside look at what it means to be an intern. Please contact Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services if you have any questions.