Dear Future "Melissa Harris-Perry" Interns,
Congratulations! I’m sure you’re excited, albeit a bit nervous, about your first day working on the Melissa Harris-Perry show. Don’t worry, as the first/best/worst intern the show has ever had, I feel a certain responsibility to make your transition as easy as possible. That’s why I created:
My Top Ten Tips For Interning in #nerdland!
1) Recognize that it's a great gig.
Interning in #nerdland might be the most unpredictable gig you’ve ever had. You won’t know what the day will hold when you begin, which is probably the best part. One minute you’re sitting in your cubicle doing research and eating Greek yogurt, the next you’re on a bus with Professor Harris-Perry as she interviews the Congressional Black Caucus, hanging out in a restaurant on the Upper East Side for a segment on multicultural chefs, scouring bookstores for the book on political paternalism we’ve got to have for Saturday’s discussion or catching the train to Columbus Circle for a Whole Foods run. While each day varies in terms of specific tasks, everyday you’re apart of something that adds to the sum total of intelligent and thoughtful engagement in the world. Not too shabby for an intern, right?
2) Moshe is the key.
If you have the job, you’ve already been introduced to Moshe, senior producer/intern coordinator/Ruler of All He Surveys. Now I don’t want to scare you, but your happiness will be directly correlated with Moshe’s happiness. Here are some tips:
- Learn as much as you can about soccer right now. When in doubt, if Moshe is watching a game, just echo his exclamations. (Applies to any sport except Olympic race-walking).
- Moshe loves little shortbread cookies. When you pick up fare for the tray, (more on this in number 5), be sure to grab a few of those. Try for sugar-free; he can’t tell the difference, and they’re better for him than the regular ones.
3) The news can change at a moment’s notice, that’s the nature of the job.
Breaking news can make you or break you. One moment everything is going as planned and then, suddenly, the control room is filled with screams, the booking agents are in overdrive and the graphics department is cranking out banners like crazy. The first time it happens, I advise you to stay out of the way and watch the chaos come together. After that, jump right in!
4) Little Intern Victories: Do not take the show’s pastry tray lightly.
As all good interns will tell you, there are little intern victories of day to day life that make it all worthwhile. Un-jam the copy-machine, discover the obscure constitutional law fact that no one knows or find the last light saber in FAO-Schwartz complete with the matching Darth Vader mask. Interning is an art form. The details matter. There’s no better example than picking the fruit and pastries for the show’s breakfast tray. You think it doesn’t matter? Wait until you see the grapes and tangerines contrasting perfectly with the cinnamon rolls. #littleinternvictories
5) There are tough days in #nerdland, too.
Everything doesn’t always come up roses. Some days you’ll leave work thinking that you have all the right answers, the public agrees with the team and all is right with the world. Other days you’ll feel like everyone is nowhere. Politicians will depress you, media members will sidestep important questions for ratings and viewers will turn from your insightful analysis of governmental instability and economic uncertainty in the third world to catch the end of a sporting event or a celebrity press conference. It’s hard out here. The struggle continues.
But sometimes, reminding people that there is a struggle, that there is nuance surrounding a topic in the first place is enough. For now.
6) Be grateful for the team.
In the near future you won’t be enriched daily by Katie’s dedication; Collier’s authenticity and fascinating outlook; Lorena’s warmth and meticulous attention to detail; Allison’s never-ending optimism; Kate’s appreciation for the nuances so often over looked in reporting; Traci’s wisdom and commitment to delivering true and impactful stories; Jamil’s devotion and quick intellectualism; Shanta’s unwavering support and capability to make impossible things probable; Michelle’s kindness and ability to work under immense pressure; Eric’s capacity to look at the big picture while remaining detail-oriented; Moshe’s coach-like knack for pulling everyone and everything together; and Professor Harris-Perry’s genuine desire to discover what truths are missing and her ability to help shape the lenses through which her students, colleagues and audience view the status quo.
It can be intimidating at first, but offer an opinion, voice your concerns, volunteer to do extra research. Trust in your ability to add to the experience. You wouldn’t be sitting in the room if your point of view wasn’t worth examining.
7) Relish in what you help create.
Soon enough, probably in your first week, you’ll stumble upon an obscure study that you find so fascinating that you decide to share it with the team before you move on to the next task. During that weekend’s show, while you unassumingly try to figure out the controls for your headset, you’ll notice a graphic scroll across the screen filled with your research. In that moment, you’ll know what’s its like to help deliver the news and that’s all it’ll take. You’ll be hooked.
8) Quitting time is when your job is done.
You will probably be given a time when you can leave at the end of each day. Trust me on this one, staying longer is much more to your benefit that anyone else’s. You’ll wish you could return to this place when security has taken your badge at the end of your internship, so soak it in. Nine o’clock on a Saturday night is when the magic happens.
9) Explore your environment.
You’re interning at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. Uh, hello! Explore!
Now, let me be clear, you definitely don’t have clearance to just stroll around the building. You do, however, have the opportunity to shadow other MSNBC shows. The Up w/ Chris Hayes team is right next to ours, and that’s just the beginning. Midtown is an amazing section of Manhattan with tons of things to do, people to see and places to go. You’ll regret it if you don’t take advantage of this opportunity, so get out there!
10) It all ends far too soon.
This, unfortunately, is unavoidable. For some untold reason the #nerdland gods have smiled down upon you and given you this unbelievable gift. Like getting in off the waitlist for a phenomenal class, you only get to sit in the seat for so long before the term comes to an end. Embrace your inner nerd and, as a good student would, be sure to take what you learn and apply it as you move forward. As with any class that has the potential to change your perception and impact the way in which you embrace the world, you only get out of it what you put in.
So there you go! I wish you nothing but the very best. There’s so much more to say, but, like most journeys, it’s better that you experience it for yourself. Remember to let your nerd flag fly and enjoy the ride. I’ll be rooting for you!
Morgan Franklin was indeed the first, best, and worst intern ever for "Melissa Harris-Perry." She is now a senior at Tulane University.