My internship as a production assistant at Democratic Presidential Debate

This story was initially published in FIU News by Isabel Gamarra.

Ashley Weathers (in black) poses as a mock debate stand-in for NBC’s production team.

Name: Ashley Weathers

Hometown: Tampa, Florida

What is your major? International relations and economics

Where did you intern? NBC Universal

What was your title? Democratic Presidential Debate Production Assistant/ Mock Debater

How did you get your internship? A request by NBC was forwarded to FIU Model UN team members and I applied.

What did you do there? I posed as a mock debate stand-in for the production team of NBC in order to predict debate patterns and candidate behavior. I assisted with production and candidate logistics of the last debate to ensure a perfect run of the show when aired and the safety of candidates. I also collaborated with the debate moderators and producers to adapt the show to be the best possible representation for NBC.

How did your internship connect back to your coursework? In class and in FIU MUN, we conducted debates on topics like health care, immigration, inclusivity, economics, education and foreign affairs.

What was the coolest thing about your internship? We got to talk to the candidates, NBC executives, journalists and numerous other political activists. Being able to discuss family separation and detention facilities with Elizabeth Warren was a definite highlight. I also was able to discuss my Global Learning research project with Beto O’ Rourke and shake the hand of Joe Biden.

What did you enjoy most about your experience?  I enjoyed participating in the mock debate and collaborating with my coworkers. It was also super cool to see the real debate carried out almost exactly the same as our mock debate.

What did you learn about yourself? After almost not taking this opportunity because I doubted my candidate and political knowledge, I learned I am more than capable. It’s easy to doubt yourself, but I was super proud of my performance and the way in which I challenged myself. I learned that when I push myself beyond my comfort zone unapologetically I truly thrive.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Take every opportunity that you can and seek out organizations that will connect you with opportunities. Sometimes applying online just isn’t enough and that is something everyone must face. Through Model United Nations I was presented with this position without seeking it out. Making yourself accessible and present in all endeavors will connect you to someone looking to fill a position.

How did the position increas your professional confidence? This position increased my confidence because this event was not one directly catered to student networking. In a room full of politicians and important people, you really must push yourself to approach everyone. When I discussed my projects and FIU, I spoke very proudly and let my hard work tell its own story. Confidence was vital in a sphere where its not about who you want to know but about why they should want to know you.

How did the internship expand your professional network? I was able to discuss my Global Learning Research Fellowship with politicians and was able to secure the assistance of the O’ Rourkes in this project. I also heavily networked with my coworkers and advisers at NBC, including those from the Northeast. I definitely got emails for everyone to stay in touch.

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