The opening scene of any Warner Brothers movies with the rows of studios suddenly became a reality. Every day I walked through the infamous WB gates this summer wondering if today was the day that a mob of people would come running out as they did in Blazing Saddles. I ordered my coffee from the lot’s Starbucks wondering if Ellen Degeneres sent one of her guests to prank the WB employees. Above all, I attended Conan O’Brien’s rehearsals every day. These are the Chronicles of a Conan Intern.
When I was younger, I used to tell people I would have my own talk show one day. Conan O’Brien is notorious for “breeding” celebrities. I wanted my name to be added to the list of Conan alumni like John Krasinski, Ellie Kemper, Mindy Kaling, and Georgetown alumnus Mike Birbiglia (C’00). I was afraid to apply because I thought I didn’t meet the stereotypical credentials. I had never taken a film or television course and had no experience with broadcast journalism. I was desperate for guidance on how to convey my enthusiasm to learn about broadcast journalism to the office at Conan. That is when I reached out to Jeff Chapski, my first Hoya Gateway connection from the winter of 2011, and asked for advice. Jeff connected me with Stu Pollard, a producer, writer, director, and Hoya Gateway participant, and he helped me polish my cover letter. With the support of two great alumni, I sent in my application to the show on which Huffington Post claims approximately 86% of the actors on The Office got Conan coffee…and next thing I knew, I was in Los Angeles.
It is hard to explain the remarkable summer I had in Los Angeles. As a research intern, I was assigned an upcoming guest and essentially knew everything about them (except their SSN) by the end of the day. My work was passed onto the producers who would then use my day’s research to conduct pre-interviews with the guests. After that, the producer would write up the guidelines and give them to Conan. It was rewarding to see the products of my labors. Not only did I get to create relationships with the writers and producers, but I also brushed elbows with Conan and Andy Richter everyday during rehearsal. The rehearsal hour was my favorite part of the day. All of the writers, producers, Andy and Conan collaborate and fine-tune segments and skits for the show. The amount of passion, drive, and hard work that goes into a one-hour show is astounding. I consider myself lucky to say I have seen first hand the successful results of power of respect and collaboration among people with different skill sets. This one experience parlays into the importance of a diversified professional and social network. Hoya Gateway gives you the ability and the resources to expand your network to people of different industries so that great thinkers can join together to produce an outcome that was once inconceivable.
Courtney Mastrangelo C’14