2018 Grant Award: Katie Gergel

My experience this summer interning with Showtime Networks in the digital media department at the Smithsonian Channel far surpassed anything I could have imagined. I had known for a while that I wanted to be in New York City working a job in the entertainment business industry, so when I received my internship offer I was beyond excited. I had worked extremely hard in the weeks prior to the offer, networking with alumni from the Bellisario College of Communications and applying to positions like crazy. It felt like my hard work had really paid off when I got the call, and even at that point I was unaware of how incredible my summer would be.

Showtime puts on a very interactive and engaging internship program for eight weeks. There were 23 interns at the company – four who were specifically at the Smithsonian Channel with me – and we would rave throughout the summer about how much legitimate work we were given in our respective positions as well as how many opportunities the internship program coordinators gave us to bond with one another – we had intern bowling, kickball, lunches, and a trip to a taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert! I became so close with a lot of my fellow interns, and it was really cool to form connections with people who had similar aspirations and work ethics to me but were from a wide variety of schools and backgrounds.

Besides all of the fun stuff, however, I really appreciated the opportunity to have hands-on work to complete in my Smithsonian Channel digital media department. I have heard a lot of people express in the past how they weren’t trusted with real meaningful work at their internships, but I never felt that way. My amazing supervisor, Anisa, gave me project upon project that pushed me to work hard and expand my creativity in ways I never have before. Over the eight weeks, I reviewed and logged channel content, conducted partnership research, edited a mock promo video, and pitched a short form series that I had to conceive and come up with a creative treatment for to the executive vice president of digital media at the Smithsonian Channel.

Though I was very busy working on these projects, I also wanted to take advantage of the time I had at this dream company in New York City to network with current employees and executives. I would find individuals who had either presented to us at the various intern speaker series and networking events that we had or ones that I found on Shoogle (“Showtime Google” – the company’s database) who held positions that seemed very interesting to me. I would send email after email and set up coffee and lunch dates so that I could pick their minds and get to know their roles within the company. This was so helpful to me because I learned about positions within the company that interested me greatly, but that I never knew existed before. Many of the employees that I met with gave me concrete steps to take after the internship to put myself on the path to these types of jobs.

Another really challenging but exciting part of my internship was the Intern Group Project, which took place over the 8 weeks that we were there. The interns were placed in small groups and given topics to investigate and come up with innovative ideas for. My group was given the “creative challenge” topic, which was about how to drive growth in millennial subscriptions to Showtime. We came up with a unique and visually pleasing presentation we called “The Shomo Effect,” which we then presented to an audience of nearly 200 employees (including the Chief Operating Officer who sat front and center). I was so proud of myself and all of the interns for speaking clearly and presenting some really unique ideas in an otherwise extremely daunting situation.

I could go on and on about all of the great things that came out of my experience this summer. I will be hard-pressed to find another internship that will give me such an interactive and rewarding 8 weeks! I can’t thank PLA and the Schreyer Honors College enough for helping me immensely with the funding and giving me the ability to live in New York City this summer.