We got the pleasure to interview both Sophia Giordano ’21 and Zenebou Sylla ’22 separately about their internship under NBC Universal, one of Emerson College’s largest employers with many divisions and subsidiaries.

Photograph of Sophia Giordano.

Sophia ’21 Journalism Production Intern

Photograph of Zenebou Sylla.

Zenebou ’22 Journalism Broadcast Operations Intern

INTERVIEW

How did you find your internship? 

SOPHIA: I found my internship by going directly to the NBCUniversal careers page after recommendations from industry connections and Emerson upperclassmen. A lot of Emerson journalism alumni that I look up to told me about their NBCUniversal internships. NBCUniversal is a dream employer for me, so I was excited to apply!

ZENEBOU: I came about my internship by an NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists) email. The email says that NBC was going to have an information session. So I sign up for the info session. After signing up, I checked their website, looking at the different positions that were open. I also checked out their Instagram as well.

How long is your internship?

SOPHIA: I have been an intern with NBC News’ Weekend TODAY in the Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 semesters! I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with the NBC News’ Weekend TODAY team for so long, and my internship will come to an end this April. 

ZENEBOU: I had the same internship position since the Fall semester. It ended in December. I applied for the same one and it started in January. I believe my internship ends in April.

Where is your internship taking place? All Virtual? Hybrid? How do you feel about it?

SOPHIA: At first, my internship in the summer of 2020 was supposed to take place in person at NBCUniversal’s 30 Rock location in NYC, but when the pandemic hit, they announced it was changing to a remote experience. I was bummed that I didn’t get a chance to work in NYC, but NBCUniversal has made the virtual internship experience so much better than I could have ever imagined! I have been able to connect and interact with the NBC News’ Weekend TODAY team and my fellow interns more than I thought I would be able to, and I am so grateful that I still have this amazing experience during this crazy time. 

ZENEBOU: My internship is with WNBC station in New York. I’m very lucky to still get this internship because since they are located in New York, I will not have the opportunity to have this internship at all. I’m super excited that I can still work with them from two separate places. It’s interesting because I can still get information back home. It’s very different but I’m excited to have this because I didn’t think it was even possible to get remote internships. But you know, with the pandemic, we see it’s possible.

What does your daily routine look like? 

SOPHIA: I start every shift by emailing the team and asking if they need help with anything that day – typically, I will have two or four assignments each shift. These assignments are usually research, logging, video/photo gathering, or anything else the NBC News’ Weekend TODAY producers need to put their stories together. One of my favorite things that we are able to do as interns is pitch stories – four of my story pitches were picked up to air, and I was able to help with the production of each of them as well! I’ve really been able to try my hand at everything as an intern, and I never get bored!  

ZENEBOU: I work from Monday-Fridays except on Wednesdays. I log into Amazon Workspaces and then send an email to my manager about daily check-ins for the day. If there is anything to get started today and that I’m available. I got through my email and check through the email that my manager sent me. I replay to them. Some of those emails require me to get contact information, places to do stories at, outreach, and event coordinating. I did some reaching out to the designer of the outfits that Michelle Obama or Dr. Jill Biden wore during the Inauguration for a story we do.

What are you currently working on?

SOPHIA: An assignment I am finishing up right now is gathering materials for Sunday TODAY’s celebrity feature with Kenan Thompson! I was tasked with finding his funniest moments from All That, Kenan & Kel, and Saturday Night Live. Once I had gathered all of these clips, I was asked to log the best NAT sounds (best one-liners, facial expressions, catch phrases, etc.). It’s been a really fun assignment to work on. 

ZENEBOU: I don’t know what projects I can say I’m working on. It varies every day. There are many stories that are going on. It definitely not linear at all. Each email has different due dates. Some assignments are still a work in progress or it’s developing. Sometimes I’m not completely done until we get the okay. That when we are good. I do follow-ups to ensure everything is still in place. I’m like the middle person between my manager and whoever it is that I’m speaking to. I make sure that every person gets what they need or how they want to do it.

What is something you wish you learned before taking your internship?

SOPHIA: I really think my internship has taught me so much that I couldn’t learn anywhere else! I never felt unprepared for the experience, other than having to adjust to remote work and virtual networking. I am going to finish this internship knowing so much more than I did when I started – I came into it knowing that my goal was to learn as much as possible. If anything, I would have liked to have been more prepared on how to connect and network virtually, but no one knew what was going on when COVID hit, and everyone had to adjust together!  

ZENEBOU: Something that I learn, definitely for software I never use the programs I use now like Amazon Workspaces. We also use Microsoft Teams. We use Cisco Jabber to make calls so you don’t have your direct info out there. We also use Webex. These software programs I never heard of until I got this internship. Also, we use email. Something else I think I should have learned before getting an internship is finding ways to build a relationship with the people I work with. It important especially when doing an internship remotely. Set aside some time to get to know your coworkers other than their title. That’s how I been able to build my relationship with my manager.

What are some essential skills/abilities/knowledge someone in your field should have?

SOPHIA: In broadcast news and TV production, I would say time management and flexibility are super important. As far as specific knowledge/abilities, research, storytelling, pitching, interviewing, and writing are essential skills in this field. Based on what I’ve been told by industry professionals, the best way to be prepared for broadcast news is to be a creative visual storyteller, and practice your writing – the rest you learn from there!

ZENEBOU: You got to make sure you are consistent and timely. I notice in my field that If I don’t respond hours late, I miss out on helping someone share their story. What has helped me in my position is being involved; Any task, any internship, any job, or title position I take on, I make sure to give it 100% if not, even more. I always make sure I’m asking questions. To make sure I’m just going about it. It is an internship, so it’s there for you to learn and understand your field or potential field. That is very important. Building relationships as well. I was about to build my relationship with my manager but also my recruiter.

Why did you decide to take this internship? 

SOPHIA: How could I not? Working for NBCUniversal is a career dream for me, and being able to get my foot in the door and learn from some of the best in the industry was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I accepted the offer within minutes of receiving the email – no doubt in my mind about this one! 

ZENEBOU: I hear everything about NBC, from the show to parts of the company. But I never thought there will be a possibility of getting an internship here. Learning more about the company, it got me more excited to be a part of it. NBC is very big on “Here You Can” (their motto). Here you can create, you can learn. You can develop things you’ve never done before. You can try new things. They have so many departments that I’m also interested in. I thought they can help me develop the skills I need to be a future journalist and to understand the field even more. Also, I thought of their idea of making sure that everyone has the opportunity to find a place where they can create or build their skills. I think that very important. It just made sure that everyone belongs.

Fun Facts!

Sophia does multiple things aside from school and her internship. On-campus, Sophia is one of four news directors at WEBN, and a segment producer for Good Morning Emerson! Her hobbies off-campus include snowboarding and playing video games (particularly excited for the upcoming pokemon and zelda remakes). Sophia is also a huge Chelsea FC fan – go blues. 

When Zenebou is not in class or working at her internship, she is co-hosting a podcast titled DamnBoo

The DamnBoo podcast is a conversational, co-host-styled podcast that explores the numerous trials and tribulations of BIPOC Young Adults. The podcast centers on any topic related to young adulthood, sex/relationships, and Social Justice. Whether it’s navigating life or wondering why the world is on fire —We’re here to talk about it!