Intern Diary: Marianna Sotomayor at CNN

By Marianna Sotomayor PCM ’15

December 4, 2013

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I am the absolute worst at making decisions. I can never decide what to eat for dinner or what movie to watch. So choosing an internship for my fall semester was quite the challenge. Three days before school started, I had two offers on the table, and no decision. Then my phone rang. It was CNN.

I interviewed with House of Representatives producer Paul Courson, who gave me an offer rarely given to interns. He said, “If you’re with me, some days I’ll have you holding the microphone when I interview a politician. On others, I’ll let you ask the questions.” As an aspiring broadcast journalist, I want to ask the questions. I quickly made up my mind.

As a CNN newsgathering intern, I watched politics unfold at the scene. I was frequently on location at the Capitol with Paul, who taught me the art of interviewing politicians, which often involved chasing them down. I felt like a Washington reporter when I would hastily take notes on my yellow and red ruled note pad. I quickly filled its pages attending an Obamacare-related hearing and several press conferences with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and other prominent politicians.

My absolute favorite moment was when SMPA alumna, Dana Bash (BA ’93), asked me to shadow her. As we waited outside the House Chamber to question Democrats about, I picked her brain about the ins and outs of her job. She treated me as a fellow colleague, filling me in on what representatives were saying and why their comments were important. I even got to ask them some questions, as promised.

Not every day was spent at the Capitol or out on the field. Besides doing the usual intern duties, such as logging, finding video and researching, I was given multiple opportunities to learn at the bureau. I produced two segments for CNN Español’s show Directo USA, which was conveniently located one floor above the assignment desk. I worked weekly with correspondent Tom Foreman to improve my writing, which paid off: I ended my internship publishing two articles for the CNN political ticker.

The biggest takeaway from a CNN internship is, of course, the hands-on experience. More importantly, I left with reporters, producers and photojournalists eagerly wishing to help me in the next steps of my career. CNN is a special place: It gave me insight to news production and to the camaraderie and the passion that is needed to get quality stories on air by deadline.