Trinity College Students Reflect on Summer Television Internships at 30 Rock

Hank Butler ’17 and Bianca Shea ’18 Intern at NBC Studios in New York City

​Hartford, Connecticut, October 5, 2016 – Trinity College students Hank Butler ’17 and Bianca Shea ’18 each had the opportunity to work with their television news role models this summer at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home to NBC Studios in New York City. Butler worked as an intern for the MSNBC program The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell and was even interviewed on air by the host. Shea interned for MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, where she learned the ins and outs of working in the high-pressure world of news, and gained an appreciation for the staff’s favorite treat from Magnolia Bakery.

Below, Butler and Shea share some of their memorable experiences: 

 

Hank Butler ’17


Hank Butler ’17 appeared on MSNBCs The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell at the end of his summer internship. Watch the video here.
Last April, I was presented with the internship opportunity that I had dreamed of since I was a junior in high school. At the time I knew that I was in store for a great internship, but I did not know that I was destined to have one of the best experiences of my life.

When I was selected as the intern for The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell my favorite program on MSNBC I could not have been more excited. I had always admired O’Donnell, and remembered watching him deliver unfiltered, cutting-edge commentary on contemporary political news in the United States and the world.

The feeling that I had walking into 30 Rockefeller Center on that first day was surreal and almost indescribable because of how electrifying it was. I walked by the big mural in the lobby every day and would head up to The Last Word’s offices on Five East, where we would have staff meetings to discuss that night’s show. The beauty of working in news was that it changes quickly; so what was said at our 2:00 p.m. meetings would likely change by the time we went live on air at 10:00 p.m. It was one of the coolest and sometimes most stressful parts of the job.

When I look back on the experience that I had this summer, I think of many things that I’ll want to remember for the rest of my life, like the late nights spent assisting The Last Word team in the control room during international or domestic crises, or learning from the team on set in Studio 3K. I’ll most fondly remember the amazing people I was fortunate enough to work with every day. The amount of kindness and support that they showed me throughout my internship was unparalleled to any other work environment that I had ever experienced.

I owe this all to Lawrence O’Donnell, whom I was able to get to know personally during my internship. I served as his assistant for two and a half weeks, which led to anchor producing multiple shows, managing his schedule, conducting research, and acting as a liaison between him and other departments. I never imagined that I would work and appear alongside one of my heroes on national television and get to have him as a mentor.

This was certainly an experience that I will never forget, and I am grateful to Lawrence and the rest of the team at The Last Word for an amazing summer.

 

Bianca Shea ’18


​Bianca Shea ’18 with the host of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
It is hard to put into words what my summer internship at The Rachel Maddow Show has meant to me. I remember that when I was 15 years old, on most weeknights I would clear the table after dinner, go up to my room to do homework, and then come back down the stairs a little before 9:00 p.m. to sit beside my father to watch TRMS. This summer, a little before 9:00 p.m. I would move from 4 West of 30 Rockefeller Center, down to 2K – the control room – to take my place in the room for the hour the show was on air.

One of the many things that my time at TRMS taught me – including that banana pudding from Magnolia’s is a team favorite for a reason – was how to work under pressure and how to feel supported the whole time. I needed to learn how everything worked, and to warm up a bit to how things were done on our team specifically, but shortly after my arrival I was trusted with jobs working side by side with segment producers, tape producers, and even senior producers. It was not just with coffee orders, but tasks in high-pressure situations.

During one of my first nights, I was in the control room when they needed something pulled off the internet for a tape producer so it could go on the show in 15 minutes. I remember running across the building, up a flight of stairs, downloading it, e-mailing the producer the video code, and looking down to find my hands trembling. When I walked by the tape producer’s room after the show, she called me in and told me I had done a great job and that she really appreciated my speed and professionalism.

It was a phenomenal experience to be a part of such a supportive team every day. I was taught to always speak up and to pitch ideas at meetings, which I did every day in graphics, with the hope of having one of my graphic pitches end up on national television. (Terms and Conditions one day will make it on air!) Most importantly, I was taught to know my worth.

After the show on Rachel’s last night before I finished my internship, I knocked on her door and thanked her for an incredible experience. Not only did my childhood idol thank me for my time there, but she hugged me and gave me a few recommendations for what I should do during my semester in Scotland – fly-fishing, of course, being a top priority.

I remember being that 15-year-old girl dreaming about what it would be like to work on The Rachel Maddow Show, but little did I know that five years later I would get the chance to fulfill that dream, and that the experience would far surpass what I ever imagined.