In spite of how movies and television portray the modern Internship, my summer was not spent running through an unfamiliar city in search of the perfect frappuccino. Instead, through career development workshops, facility tours and exposure to top administrators, NCTA’s summer internship program showed me how internships are much more than wasted time for the sake of resume building.
Before starting as an intern in NCTA’s communications department, industry terms like ISPs, MSOs and net neutrality were relatively unfamiliar to me. But by attending department meetings and reading dozens of industry articles, I quickly caught up to speed. I also learned about the relationship between programmers, providers and cable industry influencers – valuable knowledge for an aspiring TV journalist. And it all came to life when, along with the other interns, I had the opportunity to visit cable networks and regulators such as Discovery Communications, C-SPAN and the Federal Communications Commission – and of course Capitol Hill, which was bustling with activity.
Along with exposure to the inner workings of the cable industry, NCTA provided invaluable networking opportunities. As interns, we had the opportunity to mingle with industry professionals at various events including an intern coalition where Chief of Staff Dane Snowden discussed leadership and the evolution of cable.
Left to Right: Zachary Fields, Alexandra Givan, Adam Check, NCTA Chief of Staff Dane Snowden, Muska Anwar, Erin Vail, Charles Clark
Conducting research for the NCTA’s blog platform opened my eyes to an aspect of the media industry that I often overlooked. It was enlightening to find out how digitally saturated our culture has become. For example, the blog’s attention to revealing the lesser-known roles of high-speed broadband increasingly came to light as I researched statistics on record breaking World Cup streaming and the increasing presence of Internet enabled devices. Conducting research for platform was one of my favorite and most fulfilling projects throughout the summer.
As the summer progressed, NCTA Association Affairs and Program Network Policy intern Erin Vail realized the value of her contributions, “There is no such thing as a small contribution; everything you put forth is going to have some value. It was great to get meaningful work and to be able to see it in action.”
Although we spent plenty of time networking, researching and discussing net neutrality, the summer was not all work and no play. My nine weeks at NCTA were interspersed with ice cream socials, career panels, healthy grilling luncheons and a personal favorite, a make-your-own trail mix event. Not to mention, our office is conveniently located across the street from the row of infamous DC food trucks – which proved to be a detriment to both my stomach and my wallet!
Understanding the significance of today’s biggest industry news stories like mergers, net neutrality, and Title II regulation has made me aware of the challenges our generation will face as technology continues to develop. But surprisingly, the most compelling lessons learned from my summer at NCTA have nothing to do with net neutrality or the popularity of streaming video. It was being encouraged to explore all facets of the association and to place emphasis on meeting new people and learning from senior staff that made this internship such a memorable experience.
Muska Anwar, intern for the Walter Kaitz Foundation, learned this as well, saying that leaving her comfort zone helped her maximize her NCTA experience, “I would strongly encourage future interns to venture out and explore the different branches of NCTA. You learn so much more by interacting with people that you don’t associate with on a daily basis.”
I was amazed that I had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with President and CEO Michael Powell and NCTA Chief of Staff Dane Snowden. The pearls of wisdom they provided will certainly not be forgotten as I continue on my professional journey.
From responsive and welcoming coworkers to movie screenings in the NCTA theater, I don’t think I could have asked for a better summer at NCTA.