The Life of a New York City Intern

Shannon Donohue ’17 Describes her Marist in Manhattan Internship

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Monday morning, 7 a.m., on a crowded subway train on my way to my first day as an intern at Switchblade Productions. I quickly realize that the subway system’s “TransitWirelessWifi” is utterly useless, and although I still have a half hour until I reach my destination, the excitement of starting this new chapter of my life makes the time pass quickly. I transfer to three different trains before I emerge from the subway system, cross the street, and enter my company’s building to begin my first day as a New York intern. 

It didn’t start off as well as I was anticipating. I tried to walk right past the front desk but security immediately called me out and stopped me. Apparently you need to present them with an official “pass” that you get from your employer in the building. I didn’t have that yet, so they needed to take my driver’s license and call up to my boss to confirm that I was supposed to be there. That was slightly embarrassing.

Then I got completely lost in the building. That was the first “New York Rule” I picked up. Elevators are never easy. Some only go to even floors, some only to go odd floors, some only go to the top 6 floors, and some only go to the top 20 floors. It’s best to just ask the people at the front desk how to get where you need to go instead of trying to figure it out for yourself. 

Luckily, I gave myself plenty of time for my first day’s commute and eventually found my office, if you could even call it that. Switchblade Productions, a small, independent production house located in SoHo, owned the entire fifth floor of this building. They built their own living room, kitchen, front welcome area, equipment storage units, and countless editing suites and individual offices within this sprawling area.

After I settled in at my new desk (and secured a security pass) I received my very first assignment. I had to watch all the music videos of the top 50 songs on the Billboard charts and rate them based on appropriateness and language. One of Switchblade’s main partners, SONY, wanted to know which songs would be the best to show on their big welcome screen at their new office location. Listening to music all day? I happily took on the task and felt that my day was looking up.

After that was done, I was asked to transcribe interview footage for a CBS show they were working on. I was able to work on this right next to my supervisor and made sure I was doing everything up to his standards. He was very helpful and understanding.
I worked for six different supervisors over the course of the four months I interned at Switchblade; including the head editor, the production manager, and the financial director, and one main boss who was the executive manager of the company. Juggling their various assignments got a bit stressful at times, but it was exciting and I loved the fast-paced environment.

I found that all of my supervisors were always incredibly helpful and willing to help me learn. I never felt uncomfortable asking questions and felt like I was part of the little family they had formed.

Once I became more comfortable at the office, I decided to take advantage of the huge spread of New York bagels and coffee in the kitchen every morning, which really helped to ease the stress on my wallet caused by food shopping at bodegas and Whole Foods every week. It also gave me a chance to get to know my coworkers on a personal level by starting the mornings with them.

Aside from transcribing footage, my tasks often involved preparing equipment for shoots, running tapes and footage to various partner companies (including SONY, CBS, and more, which made for some great networking opportunities), filing paperwork, and creating excel spreadsheets for schedules, contacts, and other information. I got to be a Production Assistant on three different shoots over the course of the semester as well, one of which was on the rooftop of the new SONY building in Madison Square Park. That was definitely a highlight of my internship experience. 

I learned so much more than I expected. As a journalism major, I initially hoped to learn about the content side of production, but I ended up learning about that as well as how to operate a media business from the inside out, which was an extremely valuable lesson that I couldn’t have learned in a classroom.

My 3 day per week schedule gave me plenty of time to explore the city, make new and lasting friendships, and enjoy my time in New York all while working at a modern, well-connected company in my field of study. When I initially applied to the Marist in Manhattan program, I hoped I would find a more high-profile company to work for, but looking back, I never would’ve gotten the hands-on experience I received at Switchblade at a larger company. In the end, I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

Written By: Shannon Donohue ’17

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