More Than a Paycheck

January 6, 2008

Caitlin Patenaude '11 (l) and Lauren Weybrew '08 (r)I’ve spent the past few days working for ABC News and despite the extremely long hours, lack of sleep, and caffeine diet, I would do it all over again. My duties started on Jan. 3, a few days before the debate.

My official title was student runner/press file room assistant. I helped set up the press file room, where more than 700 members of the worldwide media came to watch the debates and work on their stories. I also spent many hours canvassing the “spin room” which you may have seen on TV. It’s where reporters, candidates, and campaign managers collided after the debates to create exciting chaos. I also did some of the less glamorous jobs, like running to Lowe’s and Wal-mart to buy $200 worth of duct tape.

During the actual event, I checked-in media personnel who arrived late and prepped the “spin room” during the turnover time in between the debates. I also got a piece of my 15 minutes of fame, as evidenced from the text messages I kept getting from friends and family telling me that they just saw me on TV!

This morning, I woke up early so the fun could continue. I had the opportunity to attend the taping of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, which aired in the Dana Center. Stephanopoulos interviewed Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. John Edwards, and held a round table event with ABC News consultants. Because I didn’t get to actually watch the debates, it was great to hear more from the candidates and see highlights from the main event last night. I also met both Gov. Huckabee and Sen. Edwards, which was a nice surprise.

For me, this experience was about more than just earning money for a few days. I am graduating in May with a history degree and a love of communications and journalism. But I’m currently lacking the all important first job. I was able to interact with people at all different levels of the ABC job-chain and find out what they do, which was very helpful to me because I’m not quite sure exactly what avenue I want to pursue. I worked extensively with the executive director of media relations for ABC, met the publicist for Diane Sawyer, and the people who organize all the ABC affiliate networks.

After I take a few days to reflect on my experience and absorb everything that has happened, I am confident that I will gain not only more direction as to what I want to do in the future, but also some great contacts within the ABC family.


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