“Rewarding” …

“An incredible experience” …

“A dream come true”…

That’s how some of the 15 students who interned in the Big Apple this summer described The NY Experience, the SOC summer intern program organized by Prof. Ellen Fleysher, the Frances L. Wolfson Chair in Communication Studies. Students worked in television news and entertainment, cable, radio, public relations, national magazines and music publishing.

“Moving to a new city and working at an unfamiliar company was scary at first, but I am glad I took the risk,” said Morgan Stoner of St. Louis, Mo., a senior majoring in advertising and music business. “I made so many new connections and learned more than I could by taking classes alone.”

Stoner’s experience of learning outside the classroom was shared by Mike Piacentino, who interned with Minassian Media (MMI), a strategic communication and consulting firm founded by SofC alum Craig Minassian (Class of ‘92).  “I know I will refer back to what I learned at MMI often in my career,” Piacentino said.

Jeff Cohn, a junior in electronic media, worked with The Howard Stern Show.

“I had to be timely, accurate, efficient and creative in my work – it was definitely the most interesting summer experience I have had,” he said.

Students found they were challenged and stretched by their internships. As a result, they grew.

Elena Tayem also spent the summer at Fox, but at the other end of the broadcast day. Elena was one of two students in the nation selected to intern this summer with Sean Hannity, star of the popular prime time opinion program. “I was able to network with so many important people at Fox News that could potentially change my life,” she said, “and I learned so much about myself and the exact path I need to follow to become a successful news reporter.” Like other UM interns, Tayem took advantage of the extraordinary opportunity her internship provided to meet seasoned professionals.

“Working in a real newsroom challenged me to think outside of the box and made me more confident in presenting new ideas among news veterans,” said Amina Jade Smith, a senior from Brooklyn majoring in broadcast journalism. Smith spent her summer at the Fox News Channel with Fox & Friends.  “It’s the number one cable morning program in the country,” said Smith, who got the opportunity to write for the show and actually produce a segment that she had successfully pitched to the senior staff.

Every Wednesday night, The New York Experience interns gathered in Midtown to meet industry leaders who shared their vision, advised students and fielded questions. Nick Verbitsky, the Chairman and CEO of United Stations Radio Networks and a member of the SofC Visiting Committee, graciously donated his Midtown boardroom.  Among the featured guests were CBS News President David Rhodes; Alice McGillion, executive vice president of Howard Rubenstein Public Relations; Linda Ellerbee, host of Nickelodeon’s Nick News and executive producer for Lucky Duck Productions; Scott Herman, executive vice president of CBS Radio; Peter Schacknow, of CNBC’s Squawk Box and David Folkenflik, NPR’s national media correspondent.

“I learned a lot more this summer than I thought I would,” said Will Gretsky of Westfield, N.J., a senior majoring in media management and political science. He interned at NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and summed up the entire NY Experience for everyone:

“I had the ability to meet and talk with various producers, directors, writers and even Brian Williams himself,” he said. “What I learned from all of these people was that there is no right way to be successful in this business. As long as you work hard, you’re good at what you do and truly love the work, then there’s nothing stopping you from being successful.”