Reporting on the National Stage: My Summer Internship at CNN

Kayla Green—Summer is always filled with adventures. These adventures usually involve beach trips, bonfires, and day trips with my friends. But this summer brought different kinds of adventures, and ones I never knew I’d be lucky enough to experience.

This summer I’m interning with CNN Newsource in Washington D.C. As I write this, I have about 2 weeks left out of the 10 week program, and I can proudly say I’ve learned so much.

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Now let me preface this by saying I’ve never been to D.C. before this summer. I’ve spent most of my life in Buffalo, before moving to Brockport for school (a whopping 1 hour away). I’ve never gone 7 hours away from home, and even during school I’ve never been away from home for 10 weeks. This was a huge step for me, and one that wasn’t easy to make. I questioned for a long time if I could really do it; if I could really make the big move to the nation’s capital for over 2 months. It turns out I could, and I’m glad I did. You can read more about how that came to be in my previous post.

My first day on the job was June 4th. I took my first of many 30-minute commutes to the office, utilizing 2 different metro lines — and don’t let me fool you, I got on the wrong way the first time I had to transfer from the blue line to the red.

We started off with orientation. When I arrived, there were 20 other interns sitting in the conference room, making small talk and looking how I was feeling: nervous, unsure, but also indescribably excited. I chatted with a few people before we were ushered into a different conference room to begin orientation.

We started with introductions, all saying our name, hometown, school, department we were interning with, and most interesting news article we’d read in the past month. Truth be told, this part was a little intimidating. Hearing everyone’s credentials and impressive news stories they’d read was definitely nerve-racking, but also extremely inspiring. It really hit me in that moment that I was among the best of the best. I felt so lucky and so ready to begin this journey with the people who would soon become my colleagues and friends.

I won’t delve too deep into the details of orientation, but I will say it gave me a new level of respect for the wonderful company of CNN. Their dedication to their work, and the truth, is unparalleled by anything I’ve ever seen before. From day one, I realized the people in that building are some of the most hardworking journalists I have ever had the privilege of working with. I’m continuing to learn so much from them every single day.

The department I’m interning with is called Newsource, as I mentioned. Newsource is the affiliate service, meaning we provide TV and digital stories to all the stations around the country who are affiliates of CNN. This provides a very unique perspective to the news business. We cover the huge national stories, but we customize them for each station to make their viewers feel like we’re right there in their town reporting on the biggest news of the day.

The people I work with are so friendly, nice, and amazing at what they do. They are so welcoming to me, constantly make sure I’m getting everything I want out of this internship, and help me to achieve goals I have personally as an intern. For example, I got to interview fans at the Washington Capitals Stanley Cup parade in June. I was so excited to be there, even though I’m not a Capitals fan, because, being a Buffalo fan, I felt the joy of their first Stanley Cup championship in my core. I knew that was exactly how Buffalo would be if we ever win a championship — with more broken tables, of course.

I’ve also gotten to attend an FBI press conference at the Baltimore-Washington airport, report in front of the Supreme Court after the president’s new justice nomination, attend the fireworks safety demo in front of the Capitol building, sit in the control room during the live broadcast of The Lead with Jake Tapper and the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, attend the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest D.C. semifinals, be part of the live audience of the Van Jones Show, and spend 3 hours filming (and playing) in the Fun House in the National Building Museum for a digital piece I pitched as a story.

I’ve also had coffee with correspondents I’ve admired for years, and they’ve given me incredible advice about my career. I’ve made friends with the other interns, as I mentioned, and we’ve hung out after work and exchanged stories of all our different experiences in our different departments.

Every connection I’ve made and every experience I’ve had has made me a better and more knowledgeable journalist. These stories really only scratch the surface of what I’ve learned here, but they are some of my favorite highlights.

If I could give advice to anyone thinking about taking the leap and doing an internship in another city, I’d say go for it with no hesitation. It will be scary, especially if you’re not familiar with the city, but it’s nothing you can’t overcome. I’ve been here 8 weeks and I know my way around pretty well — which is saying a lot because I’m the worst with directions, just ask my mom.

As I close out on my 8th week and prepare for the last 2 here in D.C., I feel excited to go home but also sad to leave. This experience has been life-changing, and once in a lifetime, and I’ll be sad to see it end. But what I learned will stay with me forever, and it will shape my career as a journalist like I never thought possible.

 

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