Rachael Burke '15 Details Experience as "Late Night" Intern

Appearance on Show Leads to Internship
You may recognize Rachael Burke ‘15 from her appearance on NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon back on September 23, 2011, when she and roommate, Kristina Smithy ’14, were chosen as the winners of the Late Night Dance Challenge.  You may also recognize her from the Jumbotron at Fenway Park, when she and the Trinity College Quirks a cappella group sang the Canadian National Anthem before a Boston Red Sox game last September.  You may have taken an anthropology class with her, or a writing class, film studies, or a chemistry class with her. Last semester, Burke’s well-roundedness landed her back at Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, this time behind the scenes at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, as a blog intern during the fall 2012 semester. 
(Pictured: Burke Backstage at 'Late Night') See more photos here.

“It was a great experience,” says Burke, who had remained in touch with a writer from the show after appearing on the show to teach Jimmy Fallon how to do “The Nug” dance. The writer hired Burke as one of 12 interns that semester, which was the perfect opportunity for Burke to gain exposure in an industry she hopes will be her career. “I would love to write or produce for television,” she says. “Just being in that environment only made me want it more.”

At Late Night, Burke was given several responsibilities that focused on social media content for the show: writing entries for the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Tumblr page, tweeting on the Late Night Twitter feed, researching, and creating video content. When she wasn’t spending time with the writers or working back stage, you could find her out in the city dressed in a trench coat and fedora handing out free tickets to the show every Wednesday at mystery locations around New York City as part of “Trench Coat Tickets.”  Another memorable assignment was to wear Jimmy Fallon’s fake mustache and stand in for him during a rehearsal of Who’s On First?, which was then performed on the show with Jimmy, Jerry Seinfeld and Billy Crystal.

At Trinity, Burke is a dual major in creative writing and film studies.  She’s been a teaching assistant for James J. Goodwin Professor of English Milla Riggio’s, “Introduction to Film Studies” class; she’s been a member of the Samba Ensemble; and a mentor for the M.D. Fox mentoring program.  In addition, she’s been a leader for the Quirks, arranging appearances for the group on NBC and with a Grammy award winning member of the Allman Brothers Band, among many other noteworthy performances.  Burke, whose presence has been felt in many areas around campus and in Hartford, will spend the spring studying abroad in Cordoba, Spain. She has studied Spanish since sixth grade and has “always wanted to continue learning the language by immersion in a Spanish-speaking country.” 

Burke’s interest in writing, comedy, and drama stem from her youth, having performed in theater productions (playing comedic roles); watching Saturday Night Live and re-runs of The Carol Burnett Show; and performing improvisational comedy since fourth grade. She even started an improv group during her freshman year at Brooks School in Massachusetts.  While these pre-Trinity experiences helped form a well-rounded person with a good sense of humor, Burke credits her experience at Trinity for making her internship with Late Night possible.

“I just had a good gut feeling about Trinity when I was looking at schools,” she said.  “I don’t think I would have been able to do this internship at any other school.  My teachers, advisors, and President Jones have been so supportive, and it has been a completely positive experience for me.”

Burke’s academic adviser for the internship was Jocelyn Cullity, a visiting assistant professor of English and wife of Prakash Younger, co-chair of film studies and Burke’s co-advisor at Trinity along with Ciaran Berry, assistant professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program.  David Rosen, chair of the English Department, has also been a supporter at Trinity, Burke says. 

When Burke returns to Trinity next fall, she plans to take all of her experiences and skills to write and create videos to share publicly.  No word yet on whether or not she will be donning a mustache.

For a Q&A with Rachael Burke and Kristina Smithy from their appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, visit: http://www.trincoll.edu/NewsEvents/QandA/Pages/TheNug.aspx.