Thursday, November 8, 2007

More on interns

I am not done with this internship idea yet so hold on.

Another former MBC intern is my friend Jay Smith. Jay came to the museum as a college senior at Indiana University. At school he was a TV major and had a clear plan on how to get a job in the business. His first step was to get an internship at the museum.

The museum internship was critical to Jay's overall plan because MBC president Brice DuMont was also a correspondent and producer at Chicago's PBS affiliate WTTW. Jay knew that if he got in good with Bruce he would have a better shot at getting one of WTTW's paid internships after graduation the following year.

Sure enough his plan worked. He parlayed his free MBC intenship to a paid internship the next summer. When that internship expired WTTW hired him full time on their flagship news program, Chicago Tonight. 18 years later he is going strong and is now the managing producer of that program. Over these 18 years he has also written and produced many other programs and documentaries for WTTW, but it all started with a vision he had while in college on the steps he needed to take to get the job he wanted.

So, like former intern Dan in my previous post, this too comes full circle. When I got my Flashpoint job I told Jay he needed to do a piece on the school- the first new college in Chicago in 40 years. He said he would when the time was right. The time was right this past Tuesday. Mayor Daley did the official ribbon cutting at Flashpoint and that evening on Chicago Tonight there was a piece on Flashpoint Academy and brief snippet of the dumb filmmaker. A quid pro quo of sorts.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007


A few weeks ago I wrote about my internship at a TV station and how valuable it was to my professional development. Today I want to talk about the farther reaching value interns can have.

I have said many times that before my Flashpoint gig I have had only one "real" job and that was from 1987-1989 when I worked for the Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC). At the museum we were lucky enough to have several good interns and many of us remain friends to this day.

Our first intern was Dan Lerner. Hard to believe it now, but he was a senior in high school when we met. Your classic over achiever,Dan was writing for the ACLU newsletter and looking to get his foot in any door when he showed up at the museum. Frankly, I don't remember what he did- he probably watched a lot of old TV and recorded it into our archives. Mostly we talked sports- such great conversations as who would you rather have in centerfield Kirby Puckett or Dale Murphy (years later Dan finally agreed with me about Kirby Puckett.) Dan was a good guy and worked hard and we liked having him around.

The night before he went off to college Mike Mertz, MBC archivist, and I took Dan out on the town and said goodbye. (Out on the town in this case means we grabbed a pizza and went to the batting cages. C'mon the museum only paid me $7.25 and hour and only so much town can be had for that kind of coin.)

Dan and I have remained friends over the years. Today he is a political consultant and filmmaker. I am helping produce his film (four years+ in the making) about rock-a-billy legend Sleepy LaBeef. This weekend Sleepy is performing with lots of other stars at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a concert for Jerry Lee Lewis. Dan will be there, cameras rolling, getting the show and hopefully nabbing interviews with Kris Kristofferson (who saw Sleepy during his college days at Columbia University), Chrissy Hynde and others.

My point with this post is that the benefits of internships work both directions. 20 years ago Dan was a real help to us at the museum and today I get to reciprocate by helping him with his film. Though he has done all the heavy lifting on the film I will get a nice credit and more importantly feel we have come full circle from his days as our intern.

Tomorrow another intern story.