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 2018, three students from the University of Miami School of Communication Department of Journalism and Media Management participated as NATPE interns. One of them, Lauren Tierney, a Media Management senior, shared her experience at the conference.

Interns at NATPE are responsible for various tasks including, but not limited to, directing attendees around the venue, handing out NATPE magazines, and helping manage panel sessions. While most of this work seems unglamorous, in exchange, interns receive a rare behind-the-scenes look at the conference. At NATPE, I had the opportunity to attend sessions and learn from some of the most successful men and women in the media business.

I was told by my professors and by previous interns that my experience at NATPE would depend on what I make of it. They were right. My days at NATPE started at 7:00 a.m. and ended around 7:00 p.m. After being on my feet and running around all day long, all I wanted to do was go home and prepare for the next day. However, a major perk for interns is the ability to attend the parties held by NATPE each evening. At these parties, I had the opportunity to network and mingle with top media executives in a more relaxed setting. Without knowing it, I had a 25-minute conversation with Todd Thicke, the creator of America’s Funniest Home Videos, after which we exchanged information.

Additionally, the intern supervisors selected interns who had shown exceptional motivation to attend other exclusive events. I was selected to work on the 15th Annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award. There, I was in the presence of the five honorees: Jane Fonda, Tom Selleck, Greg Berlanti, Cesar Conde, and Kevin Reilly. It was at this event that I was able to strike up a conversation with Kevin Reilly about being from the same hometown, only to figure out he went to school with my father and uncles growing up. He also introduced me to his mother, who was best friend with my grandparents. Kevin Reilly has been responsible for developing such shows as ER, The Office, 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Empire, Glee, and many more.

The NATPE conference undoubtedly kept me very busy, but it was also a life-changing event. Along with meeting so many successful professionals, I created strong friendships with the other 35 interns. I urge any student who is passionate about the television industry to apply for the NATPE internship because it was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life.