The Series: We reached out to American University School of Communication students and recent graduates who are spending this summer advancing their careers through a new job or internship, and asked how they got there, what they're learning, and what advice they have for others. We're sharing the responses in our summer series, "SOC Suits Up for Summer".
Kate Musselwhite is a MA degree candidate in Broadcast/Multimedia Journalism and Public Affairs at the American University School of Communication. She currently holds two internships, one at CBS News in Washington and a second at SOC’s Investigative Reporting Workshop. Musselwhite came to SOC with more than 10 years of professional experience, most recently as a senior technical support consultant with an established government contracting firm in the D.C. metro area.
Q: How did you find your internship?
A: I found my internship through my alumni mentor (via the SOC Alumni Mentor Program). Kate Rydell is a producer at CBS News in Washington and recommended me for the internship position. Now I’m working closely with her here at CBS during my internship, which has really been a great experience.
Q: What skills that you learned at SOC do you use in your internship?
A: I use pretty much everything I’ve learned at SOC here, first and foremost my news judgment. I also use the skills I learned in my broadcast news production class, like how to use ENPS and the various skills involved with producing news packages. Understanding the general make-up and structure of a newscast was really helpful when I joined the team at CBS.
Q: What “behind the scenes” factoid do you think would surprise viewers most about CBS Evening News?
A: A big chunk of the newscast each night is produced by the Washington producers and correspondents – some nights more than half! Also, the producers and correspondents can turn news stories around in an amazingly short amount of time. I can remember incidents where the Washington folks got a call from New York 20 or 30 minutes before the show started and had to turn around a breaking news story that quickly.
Q: Describe your internship duties/"day in the life" at your internship.
A: I assist the producers and correspondents here with anything they might need – which is rarely the same from day to day. I help with research, phone calls to sources, setting up and helping conduct interviews, on-site producing in the field, printing the scripts for the show each night, and general administrative duties around the newsroom.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your internship?
A: It is very fast-paced and requires you to quickly overcome whatever learning curve you face.
Q: What is the most valuable aspect of your internship?
A: It provides hands-on experience in a top notch broadcast newsroom and really gives a glimpse into life in this industry. It also has allowed me to meet so many talented and well-known producers and correspondents that have all been incredibly supportive and helpful.
Q: What made you trade of "vacation" for an internship?
A: I didn’t quit my well-paying job as a government consultant to go on vacation! I decided from the get-go that, in order to make my decision to go back to school pay off, I needed to take advantage of every single opportunity I could find in the short time I was in graduate school. I even come into my internship on days I don’t have to sometimes just to get the most out of it – and because I enjoy it.
Q: What are your plans post-internship?
A: I am in the process of applying to different jobs in the broadcast news industry – on air/multimedia journalist positions at stations all over the region, so we’ll see! My dream job is to be a host and/or correspondent for a news magazine show like 48 Hours or 60 Minutes.
Q: Any tips for others looking for an internship or job in your field?
A: An internship can really change your life and career if you make the best of it and get a little bit lucky. Try to find the best opportunity you can and capitalize on it. The people you’ll meet during an internship can be life-long advice-givers, references and friends.
Q: Any stories you’d like to share?
A: I’ve been lucky enough to meet the CBS Evening News anchor, Scott Pelley, twice during his first couple of months as anchor when he came to Washington.