Every year, the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) offers a competitive internship program that allows selected students to attend the conference and develop a greater knowledge of the television buying and distribution processes. Since 2011, the annual NATPE conference has been held in Miami Beach. In 2016, four students in the UM Department of Journalism and Media Management were chosen as NATPE interns. Soc News asked two of them to share their experiences at the conference. 

Caitlin Atkinson’s Experience

The NATPE internship is a selective program that gives passionate communication students a unique opportunity to attend the conference, have access to panel sessions featuring industry moguls, and, most importantly, network. My duties included passing out the official NATPE magazine, directing people to and from the events taking place in both the Fontainebleau and the Eden Roc hotels, and assisting room organizers with raffle ticket distribution and maintenance.

All of the NATPE staff, attendees, and panelists were, for the most part, very kind and interested in speaking with the interns and passing along their business cards. I found that it was really up to me to make the best of my time there. So I was assertive and put in extra hours of work just so that I could attend a session of my choosing; I even took myself off to the executive suites in order to get some contacts from NBCUniversal.

Having the opportunity to listen to professionals speak and to network with important people overshadowed everything else. Immersed in the television business for a full week, I learned a lot about the industry and the changes it is undergoing, and I now feel even more passionate and excited to be a part of it. I would recommend the program to any student who is eager and interested in learning about the television industry and urge him or her to be confident and proactive in order to make the most of it. 

Daniel New’s Experience 

Time will tell, but the NATPE conference may have become the most important week of my college career. Never have I been given so much exposure to the primary aspects of the television business: distribution, writing, producing, and, most importantly, staring at famous people.

At NATPE, the distribution education is everywhere, but you have to go out and earn it. During two of the conference nights, I was given the opportunity to go to parties to network and learn from the industry’s top writers and producers. For instance, I spoke with comedy writers from South Africa who gave me advice on the pilot I am working on for my film minor. I also met a man from Toronto who supplied the stunt doubles for Chris Evans in The Avengers. This conference was the ultimate vehicle for applying my education and seeing how different components of the business fit together.

Of course, this internship at one of the biggest events in television has kept me busy. Most of it may seem like “scut work,” but everything is an opportunity to talk to people I would otherwise never be able to meet. In the same day, I received a hug from NBC’s Community creator Dan Harmon and then got career advice from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah‘s comedian Jordan Klepper. It is true that this internship could change your career, but your successes may depend on your own willingness to go after opportunities. NATPE gives you a chance–so take it.