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IMG_0004A week and a half ago, I attended the Museum’s luncheon at the Washington Post with two of my co-workers. This was really interesting to me for a variety of reasons. Starting with the fact that it was held at the Washington Post building and it’s so cool to think that within those walls, a widely respected newspaper is created every day. It was also an opportunity to meet communications professionals from DC’s other museum. As I’m sure you can imagine, a larger percentage of those in attendance were representing the Smithsonian—there are 19 museums within the umbrella of the Smithsonian, after all.

When a representative from the Post opened the program, he said something that really summed up what I love about working at NASM: “Public relations is a lot easier to do when your client is actually doing something interesting.” Yes, it certainly is.

Another thing that struck me and seemed to illuminate one of the greatest challenges I have experienced in the pitching process: when the four reporters on the panel were asked what the best ways to contact them were their answers covered the whole spectrum. One said that it was a good idea to email and then call a few days letter, but not to get excessive. Another said to never call, just email, and don’t annoy him with your communication. And another said contact me again and again using every medium you can—text, phone call, social media, email. And this is the age old problem. Until you develop a relationship with a reporter, you really can’t know the best way to contact them.

The coolest part about the Washington Post Luncheon was the opportunity to hear Philip Kennicott speak about his experience as a journalist. He is the chief art critic at the Washington Post and just won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. It was interesting hearing his take on the importance of museums to a city and society as a whole.

And I got a free lunch. So yeah, good day.

 
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Savannah Simons WTOPSadly, my summer internship at WTOP has come to a close today as I prepare to enter my fourth and final year at High Point University. It has been an amazing nine weeks and I’ve gained so much through my experiences inside and outside the newsroom through interviews, shadowing and writing practice.

Highlights of my internship include hearing interviews I recorded on the radio, various trips to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park to get sneak peeks of exotic animals and cover their debuts, attending the “Living Artfully” press preview at one of my favorite museums, the Hillwood Estate, sitting in on the Operation iGuardian news conference at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Headquarters, and witnessing the sentencing of Thomas Gore, a former campaign aide to D.C.’s mayor, Vincent Gray, at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Federal Courthouse.

I’ve learned a lot from this internship, including how passionate I truly am about journalism. No two work days are the same, as breaking news occurs each day, all over the world. There is always news I can read about and cover, never leaving me bored at my desk. I have also learned how crucial it is to be on time and not procrastinate. Journalists revolve their days around deadlines, so distraction is not an option. Not only are deadlines important, but keeping time limits in mind are also crucial when working in a newsroom because even if a piece is two seconds over, it’s too long. Timing is key in radio, and I have found myself rewriting an entire reader or write-around because I struggled with editing the piece in order to maintain the time limit.

I am very pleased with this internship as it is very hands-on and requires its interns to apply what they’ve previously learned to assignments that may be heard or seen by thousands of readers and listeners. I’ve had interviews I recorded used for on-air stories, written readers for anchors to read on air, and contributed to the website when needed.

I am proud to say I had one of the best internships an aspiring journalist could have (and not once was I ever asked to get coffee!). I am approaching my senior year ready to take on my last few journalism courses in order to complete my major and look forward to applying what I learned as an intern to the classroom.

 
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8.2 interns at the zooeditedI posted weeks ago about the advantages of being part of an organized internship program, but in that I was just referring to the NASM program. It actually extends further than that. The Smithsonian has an Office of Fellowships and Internships that also organizes activities for Smithsonian interns as a whole to attend, and I’ve been able to go a few.

A couple weeks ago, I attended Morning at the Museum, an event just for interns at the National Museum of American History. The program was a follow-up to a film series they had at the museum the week prior about “The Matrix.” The morning began with a curator talk about the Warner Brothers artifacts American History has (including a costume from “Harry Potter”!) and then the curator showed us a new acquire: a gun used in the filming of “The Matrix.” We then went into the Warner Brothers theatre, heard a brief lecture on “The Matrix” and its effects on the movie industry, and then we got to watch movie. Not a bad way to spend a morning!

8.2 elephant trailsLast week, I went on an OFI trip to the National Zoo, another facet of the Smithsonian. This was a lot of fun because it was cool to see how, even though both the Zoo and NASM are part of the same institution, they are both so uniquely different in content, yes, but also in the way they are run. It was also cool to meet interns from other museums and to get a bit of behind-the-scenes information from our tour guide. In my Case Studies in Public Relations course last semester, I actually did a presentation about FedEx and 8.2 pandatheir partnership with the National Zoo in the moving of Tai-Shan, the beloved panda, back to China and our tour guide actually talked about how Tai-Shan was transported on FedEx’s “Panda Express” (and a few weeks ago I met the head of communications at the Zoo, who, it is now occurring to me, was probably involved in that campaign).

I honestly cannot believe that I’m almost done with this internship. We actually had a Farewell Lunch with all the interns on Monday because some interns finish this week, and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we’re close 8.2 lionsenough to being done that we’ve already had our Farewell event. There’s still so much I want to do before my internship wraps in a week: have two more IMAXs I need to see while they’re still free to me, and I really should take a docent tour and explore the exhibits more thoroughly.

There are so many opportunities to learn on so many different levels here at NASM and SI in general, and I intend to take advantage of them until the very last day.

 

8.2 gorilla

 
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8.1 Goose BumpsWhen you go above and beyond you are usually awarded for your actions. Whether it’s in the classroom or even in an office environment, going the extra mile usually comes with a reward of some sort. This week I received Goose Bumps at Wawa, in fact 5,000 of them. And no, I am not talking about the ones that run up and down your arms. Goose Bumps are given out each month to employees of different departments who have made significant contributions or even to those who just may have helped expedite the length of time consumed on one specific project. Since I usually view my work with a modest approach, I was totally surprised to receive recognition like this. My two supervisors told me that they were pleased with the work that I had accomplished since I walked in on Day 1 of the internship. For the past six weeks, I have been assisting with a sizable claim that the company had filed for as a result of a peril last Fall. Most of my work consisted of data collecting and communicating with dozens of business partners in order to track down information required by the insurance adjuster. One of my bosses said that without my help, the whole process would have taken a lot longer to complete and that the entire department was very appreciative of my work. From this, I have learned that it is very important to have incentives or competitions in the workplace. This type of practice serves as motivation for employees to work just a little harder when they come into the office each day. With that, companies will continue to have success and will see growth over time.

So you might be wondering what these Goose Bumps allow me to do. Each Goose Bump serves as a point toward an online account with Wawa. There, I can purchase clothing items or even movie passes for a Friday night date. I went ahead and purchased a Wawa hoodie and sweatpants for those cold Winter months. Also, I reserved a UHAUL truck to transport all of my Wawa apparel back to High Point

…just kidding

 
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As you all know by now, things have been pretty slow for me these past couple of weeks but I’ve been doing my best to keep busy. Wednesday though, things changed when I got an awesome email from my managing editor. She told me that she finally got the “okay” for two interviews for me. Now, I know that the remaining part of my summer will be beyond amazing.

But before that, let me quickly brief you on some other things. My swimming as an exercise article released earlier this week. You can read the full article here: http://thedailyquirk.com/2013/07/30/swimming-as-exercise/.

8.1 Swimming

I also discovered that my Melina Alvez interview was one of the most viewed articles this week on The Daily Quirk. That’s a pretty exciting feeling and it does make me feel like a pretty successful writer.

Now on to the interview information… Since I can’t tell you the exact name of my interviews until they go live on the site, I will give you some vague hints about whom they could be. My first interview is going to be with a reality TV star from ABC’s “Whodunnit?” They are one of the “deceased” contestants so it will be awesome to get that perspective since I’ve already talked with 8.1 Most ViewedMelina, who is still on the show.

My second interview is the big news. This one I actually fan-girled over, and I know it’s going to be a very memorable experience. This big named star has been in several movies and been on Broadway, but they are most well known for their reoccurring role on the ABC Family show “Pretty Little Liars.” That interview is scheduled for Monday, and they only have allotted 30 minutes for us to speak. This means I really have to apply what I’ve learned with researching to chose only the best and most vital questions to be asked. I’m excited but nervous all at the same time.

Unlike my previous interviews with celebrities, this “Pretty Little Liar” actor (or actress) is the biggest interview I’ll do in my journalism career (well, so far I hope). I hope that before the end of the summer I’ll be able to share the identity of this mystery interview but I can’t make any promises.

If it ends up that this blog ends before I can reveal the identity, make sure you check out The Daily Quirk for the reveal! Since you know what show they’ve been in and you know who the author of the interview is (me!) it’ll be easy to figure it out once it’s on the homepage.

Well for now that is everything. Looking forward to telling you more about the interview, and perhaps some of the things I’ve learned that might be useful.