Friday, May 16, 2008

The cooler gig

My former roommate and I are both screenwriting majors at Drexel University, released from academic purgatory for six months to get an internship in our field so we can appreciate just how good we’ve got it (I’m reasonably certain that’s not how Drexel advertises its co-op program, but after a four straight terms of classes, that’s definitely how I feel). My roommate is spending her six months in Ireland, working her butt off amid rolling fields of green, quaint little pubs and surrounded by that wonderful Irish accent that she imitates so beautifully. I’m back home, working at MPT and remembering why my brother and I get along best when I’m two hours away. There are fields of green, yes, and there’s probably a cute little pub or two somewhere, but pretty much everyone here has the same accent I do—no imitation required.

Still, all of our friends agree: I got the cooler internship.

I’m working on MPT’s documentary: Maryland Generations: Jewish Americans. Being raised Catholic, there’s a certain irony to this, but I’ve loved history all my life, and this has been a chance to not only learn history that’s new to me, but to really connect it with the places I know. I grew up in Roland Park, known back in the day for the “no Jew” clauses in the deeds to its houses. I even talked to my dad about it, and he said yup, that clause was in the deed for our old house, along with a little note saying that the clause was unconstitutional. When I asked why the offending clause wasn’t just removed, he said: “Another clause said it couldn’t be removed.” The law is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

But the history bit is just a perk, like those “buy $50 or more worth of merchandise and get a cute little stuffed dog FREE!” promotions stores do. Even on a completely different project, one that had absolutely nothing to do with my interests (although that’d be pretty hard, considering I’m interested in pretty much everything MPT does), I’d have the best internship ever.

MPT uses its interns. Seriously uses its interns. You don’t just answer phones, take messages or take dictation of a script. In my first two weeks working here, I’ve researched Maryland’s history, met state politicians and leaders of international Jewish organizations, gone out on shoots and learned a little bit about camerawork. I’ve looked for visuals to put into the show, read through interview transcriptions and picked out sound bites to use. I’ve written outlines for the first two segments, highlighting the information we should cover and the sound bites I like best. My boss/producer actively seeks out and trusts my input. In those two weeks alone, I’ve utilized almost all the skills I’ve learned in school, and picked up some new ones. And everyone here, whether you work closely with them or just occasionally walk by their office, cares about you and what you’re doing. They must drug the water or something; you don’t get people this nice in Philadelphia.

So if you’re an undergrad (or grad student) interested in television, in Maryland, just want something more to do with your time—consider an internship at MPT. It’s a lot of fun.


We have a koi pond. Last I checked, my roommate’s place of employment doesn’t have one of those. They just make her sit in on boring seminars.

I definitely got the cooler gig.

Katie Nolan
Content Enterprises Intern

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