It is a very cold 6:30 a.m. on September 26 and the four shot espresso and two skim milk lattes in my hands are not getting any warmer. At this point in the day, the magnetometers (Mags) are not allowing liquids in the building. At this point, there is only one way to resolve the issue.
“Sir, we’ll let you pass through this time,” the secret serviceman said, “But you’re going to have to taste test them first.”
Without any other choice, I took a sip from each coffee. The espresso was horribly strong. Needless to say, I would not be telling NBC News (CENSORED) what I had to do to get her coffee that morning.
That was just one of many obstacles I faced as a University of Mississippi Presidential Debate intern during the week of the first debate, rushing from one corner of Oxford to another, making constant supply trips to whatever store still had supplies, and always making it just in time.
On average, I made three to four supply trips to Wal-Mart and other businesses each day during the week. Every time I was at Wal-Mart there were always other network interns rushing about as well.
During the internship, I worked for NBC Nightly News and Specials Senior Production Manager Maralyn Gelefsky. It was amazing to work for Ms. Maralyn. She had a lot of experience for me to learn from.
The work that the other 11 NBC selected interns and I did for Gelefsky usually varied from picking up reporters to shuttle different locations, writing emails to correspondents, helping set up equipment, and making various supply runs. Fellow intern Sarah Cure and I even had to chart the best travel route from (CENSORED).
But despite being constantly busy, I did take the time to learn from the experience as it unfolded throughout the week. It was pretty exciting getting to see NBC news in action. The diligence and the work speed of the crew was amazing.
During my time, I kept up with as much of the process as I could during the week; including assembly, production and dis-assembly. I also got to work directly for retired news anchor Tom Brokaw and anchor Brian Williams.
The funniest moment for me was when Brokaw and his wife, Meredith, and I were at a gas station early Saturday morning. As he and I stepped up to the entrance of the Chevron, a little old man in a cap walked up to Brokaw and asked “Are you who I think you are?” Brokaw jokingly said “No, I’m not Eli Manning.”
And believe it or not, I passed through the Mags so many times on Friday that Secret Service and I knew each other on a first name basis by mid-day.
And then there was the night before the debate. It was about 11:30 and we had packed up for the night. Before I left I sat outside in front of the NBC workspace and just watched the people go by as well as the changing colors of the Gertrude Ford Center. Starring up at it gave me memories of when my family would go to Disney World. We would always finish our last night at the Magic Kingdom and I would stare at Cinderella's Castle one last time in awe. I could feel that same peace and contentment looking up at the Ford Center. I could feel the magic...
Overall, with very little sleep throughout the week, the internship was worth it for me. I took every opportunity to be a part of the experience. If it was up to me, I’d still be a part of it right now and maybe one day, I will.
Above Photo: Anchor Tom Brokaw, Me, Senior Production Manager Maralyn Gelefsky.
Below Photo: The Gertrude Ford Center the night before the debate.
NOTE: parts of this entry were censored and other events left out in the interest of the NBC/Universal privacy statement.