A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words

Joanna at National Geographic

By Dean’s Intern Joanna Sobieski at National Geographic

When I first walked into the National Geographic office this September to intern for the Channel, it felt like coming home. My sophomore year I spent my first internship interning for the National Geographic Society, so the building with its stunning photography adorning the walls, quirky cubicle decorations, and brilliant staff, felt at once friendly and familiar. At the end of my internship, I have learned an awful lot about working for a major television network, brushed up on my photoshop skills, and learned important lessons in office dynamics that will serve me in my upcoming job search and beyond.

My team of supervisors in Digital Media were all extremely bright, poised and professional young women that were fantastic role models for me to follow during my time with the Channel. They immediately showed me the ropes of the work I would complete during my internship and helped me assimilate to the unique culture of the NatGeo Channel office. It was really interesting for me to observe how different the company culture was between the Channel and the National Geographic Society, despite being housed in the same building. Work in the channel, as in most networks, was fast paced and presented many spontaneous projects that needed to be dealt with, from damage control over content deemed controversial, to capitalizing on the popularity of media clips that gained traction online.

During my time with the Channel, I completed a variety of tasks, but primarily assisted with two ongoing projects- helping my supervisors migrate content from the old website a new platform for the website that will be launched in a few months, and photo galleries. With the photo galleries, I was tasked with selecting images for episodes of each show and photo shopping them, and then writing clever captions to accompany the images to publish online.

Having just read the autobiography of Carolyn Patterson, the first female editor of the National Geographic magazine who started her career with NatGeo writing legends for the photos, it felt really cool to do similar work. Each show on NatGeo includes so many fun fact nuggets that I enjoyed learning through reading scripts for the show and assembling content for the galleries. At the end of my time with NatGeo, it is very rewarding to have several galleries published on the website. The hardest part was definitely boiling down all the things I wanted to write about each show to just a couple well-written lines for each photo, and doing so with a fast turnaround deadline for each gallery.

Aside from my work for the Channel, I also enjoyed the benefit of meeting experienced professionals in the field who took the time to talk to me about their experience and opened my mind to many different kinds of work that all fall under the umbrella of working in media. I learned a lot about what it takes to pitch a successful show to a network, what skills are most valued by networks today that I need to brush up on before graduation, and of course, more about what makes the National Geographic Channel brand so unique. One of my favorite takeaways from my time in the Channel office was the opportunity to sit in on meetings with the Digital Media that focused on developing engaging, educational transmedia components and games to accompany the content for each show on the website. From hearing my supervisors work with a small production team responsible for designing the layout for each piece, I realized just how important the tiniest details are in effectively communicating information to viewers. It opened my eyes to the world of curating content online, which is field I very well may look into after graduation. Overall, my internship taught me a lot about the industry and I’m very thankful for the experience.