By Caitlyn McDuffee
In 8th grade when my health teacher asked me to write about where I saw myself in 20 years, I relayed that I wanted to work at a big-time broadcast journalism network. This dream that my 13-year-old-self scrawled out on paper that day literally came true for me this summer when I secured an internship as a college associate for the Fox News Channel show “Daily Briefing” with Dana Perino.
I lumbered into the Fox News offices on my first day wearing a huge leg brace. Just two weeks out of knee surgery, and with this large metal monstrosity strapped around my leg, it is safe to say that I stood out. This was my first internship opportunity. Most of the college associates at FNC with me that day had experience in previous internships at powerhouse companies. Though I was a bit behind in the corporate internship arena compared to my colleagues, I quickly learned that a positive attitude and an eagerness to learn (no matter what the task) would help me to get the most out of this internship.
And it did. I woke up each morning ready and excited to take on the day. I was so eager to get to work, I didn’t even need coffee! I fell in love with my internship immediately, i.e., the thrill of the non-stop, 24-hour news cycle, the frenzy of getting the news onto the air up to the very last minute, and the importance of our show’s duty to inform the public to the best of our ability.
Our show connected with millions of people each day. We all contributed in different ways to our collective responsibility to report the news to our viewers in a factual and balanced manner. Our collaboration each day helped viewers to shape their own opinions about the political and cultural events going on in our country and around the world – and I was humbled to have an integral role in that process. Whether I was managing social media, writing scripts for E and F block, cutting clips, making research packets, or running errands around the building with my colleague Sydney Persing, I continued to grow each day in gaining confidence in my abilities and acquiring the skills needed for each assignment I was called upon to complete.
In working alongside Dana Perino, I came to understand that with hard work and commitment I could do anything I set my mind to. Mrs. Perino attended a state school as I do, and worked her way up to become the first female Republican White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. From there, she began anchoring her own show, “Daily Briefing,” as well as co-hosting “The Five.”
I have admired Mrs. Perino for years but I was also blessed to learn from and work with the incredible team of professionals behind her. My immediate manager, Jennifer Williams, is a Dartmouth graduate who is raising the cutest soon-to-be service dog, Spike. Staff members Rocco Aloe and Jeremy Steele are brilliant writers who started out in local news and worked their way up to the top-ranked, FNC news show. Jason Palencia and Brennen Lutz are the computer tech wizzes that made our show look beautiful and polished on-screen each day. Meghan Fitzgerald and Amy Fenton booked the critical and newsworthy guests for the show each day.
Dana Perino and her staff allowed me to understand the pivotal and primary reasons behind the importance of the global news business. It’s not the hair and the makeup. It’s not about the Twitter followers, or the fame associated with being on television. The news media is charged with upholding one of the most critical pillars of our democracy – freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and a responsibility to disseminate news in a factual, balanced manner in order to hold our government to account.
My co-workers and I were passionate about this mission. We had a purpose, and it was important to the world around us that we took our role seriously and got it right each day. I would leave FNC each night with a headache because of the overwhelming nature of the fast-moving news cycle, but I loved it. I had the time of my life at my dream job. It was an experience that allowed me to begin growing into the person I dreamed I could be (and will be!) since that day in 8th grade when I first imagined myself there.
I stand 5 feet, 10 inches tall. Yes, the weather is nice up here, thank you, … and no, I don’t play basketball. But I am not done growing by any stretch. This summer I grew as a person. The experience at FNC included growing pains, which is to be expected and completely welcomed. But the experience mostly amounted to a huge growth spurt for me, Caity, the person, … who I am and who I can and will be. My internship was a kick-start toward something very special – my future.