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Internship at Oprah Winfrey Network An Unforgettable Experience for MSLCE Student

By Melissa Cline

A famous quote by James Herriot states, “Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.”  It made me think, if cats are connoisseurs of comfort, then what are Wildcats? Throughout my internship journey, from the application submission, to now completing my last week at the Oprah Winfrey Network, I was everything but comfortable. It took more tenacity, agility, and heart than I knew existed. The hunt for the internship alone gave me life lessons that I will be using for the rest of my career. Taking sole responsibility for my professional materials, application, personal brand, follow through, and most importantly networking, was key in this entire journey.

Walking through the doors of the Oprah Winfrey Network on June 23 was an experience I’ll never forget. From the parking attendant who gave me security clearance, to the front desk officers who opened what could be described as a palace door, it was a wild experience. Not only was I greeted like the staff had been awaiting my arrival, but my name was engraved on the wall above my desk. After being seated at my new desk a total of 15 minutes, my supervisor asked me to attend a meeting with an SVP of OWN. I grabbed my notebook, my fear, my instincts, and all my life experiences and walked completely out of my comfort zone. Looking back, what I realized is that there is a network of people who are awaiting your arrival, your ideas, and your passion. The entertainment industry is described as a cut-throat business, very similar to that of a jungle. Though I understand this philosophy, I experienced the direct opposite at the OWN Network and here in Los Angeles. The team I worked with was incredibly intelligent, detailed, and very ready and eager to hear a new idea. Meetings, informational interviews, presentations, and one-on-ones were all very similar to moments of inspiration. I’ve never been in a professional setting so encouraging and enlightening. Those are not only elements of the OWN brand, they are also embedded in its company culture. For that, I am so grateful. From having personal meetings with network executives to receiving cold emails from industry professionals who just wanted to connect, this internship has created an overflow of opportunity.

One of Ms. Winfrey’s famous quotes is, “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” Northwestern gifted me with that courage. As a wildcat, very familiar with the hard work required to wear your purple and white stripes, I realized that Los Angeles is in fact not a jungle. Northwestern is the jungle and if you can succeed within the university, your preparation grants you the confidence needed to succeed outside of your comfort zone and inside a network of amazing professionals.