An Age of Discovery at National Geographic HQ

Below is an reflection upon my first weeks as an American University Dean’s intern at National Geographic during the 2014 spring semester.

It wasn’t really a choice but rather a dream to intern at National Geographic. My respect for this organization runs deep. Founded in 1888, National Geographic’s conservation efforts, devotion to exploration, and commitment to serving a worldwide audience helped established its seamless reputation.

Since my freshman year at American University, I set a goal to apply for an SOC Dean’s internship as an upperclassman. This Fall, while studying abroad in Spain, the opportunity presented itself and I became the Spring SOC Dean’s Intern in Nat Geo’s Communications department. During my high school years, I was a two-time participant on National Geographic Student Expeditions. Through these immersive exploration programs, I gained an incredible amount of insight as a young journalist, photographer and environmentalist. These experiences helped me realize where I wanted to work “when I grew up.” While reminiscing about my 3-week expedition in Monterey Bay, CA and my second expedition throughout the national parks of Alaska, I am confident that I will gain Nat Geo knowledge from my corporate non-outdoorsy experience as an intern.

Reflecting upon my first weeks as an intern at Nat Geo, I discovered that the spheres of Journalism and Public Relations are so inter-connected. While I have acquired skills in both fields through reporting courses and a few seminars on writing press releases, never before had I witnessed the unique symbiotic relationship between PR and Journalism.

So far, my role at Nat Geo is focused on community outreach for the National Geographic LIVE events, held locally at the Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium. I am also delving into aspects of corporate communications, helping coordinate information about high-profile events suggested for CEO, Gary Knell’s attendance. Most notable are my efforts in compiling media contact lists from news outlets across the United States for the Society’s annual National Geography Bee. It is my responsibility to hand-pick journalists from a specific location and publication style, who report on a certain niche. Then, I notify these sources of the newsworthy events endorsed by Nat Geo. While it can be an arduous task, this helped me gain perspective on the expanse of the journalism world and its counterparts.

Exploration by air, land and by sea is a common theme presented in the photographs displayed throughout the historic halls of the 17th Street building at Nat Geo Headquarters. While touring the legendary Hubbard Hall with my supervisors, I watched as they stood in awe, as if it were their first time setting foot in this legendary room. Together, we admired the handcrafted wood table that extends across this old-fashioned boardroom. It was at that moment that realized I was finally taking my first steps toward contributing to this cohesive community of innovators, communicators, scientists, artists and explorers—where any discovery is a gold mine and conveying those findings never gets old.

My goals as a journalist run parallel with those of the Society; to share the most intriguing, eye-opening information about people, places and events to a variety of audiences. I aim to lay the ground for my future in the world of communications by learning to embrace discovery in the workplace, in hopes that one day the outdoors could be my office space. This semester, I want to challenge myself and gain perspective about what goes on behind and beyond Nat Geo’s distinct yellow border.

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