ESU Senior Interns in NYC with Rachael Ray Show while Balancing Classes, Life and Work
It’s 4:30 a.m. when Taylor Brittain’s alarm goes off on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Ahead of her lies a nearly 2 ½ hour commute into New York City, which includes about 25 minutes of driving and almost two hours of sitting on a train.
When Brittain, an East Stroudsburg University senior from Upper Back Eddy, Pa., majoring in communication studies, finally arrives at Penn Station before making her way to Chelsea Studios where she’s an intern for the Rachael Ray Show, she’s braced for a day filled with anything and everything. She could be swapping out sets, getting new props ready that will be inserted at commercial breaks or venturing to the Upper East Side to pick up wardrobe changes. She may even find herself face to face with some big wigs.
It’s a fast-paced environment that requires confidence, promptness, accuracy and strong communication skills, all components that were emphasized during her time at East Stroudsburg University.
“I will leave without breaking the bank, but I have learned a lot at ESU and decided I would from the beginning,” she said. “There are so many things on campus that you can get involved in. If you do, then it will be super helpful. There is so much at your disposal, and if you take advantage of it while you’re there, then it can help you in the real world tremendously.”
Brittain has seen that first-hand. Of the approximately 30 interns for the Rachael Ray Show, she is one of only a handful getting to the chance to spend time in three departments, which she said are as different as night and day. She’s with the art department on Tuesdays, field production on Wednesdays and regular production on Thursdays.
Helping Brittain through all the aspects of her internship are the experiences she’s been involved in at ESU and the well-roundedness of the classes in her major. Since her first semester as a freshman, she worked with Sports Information Director Greg Knowlden. She was responsible for dealing with coaches, referees and media members. She’s also worked at WESS, the campus radio station; last year she even co-hosted a show called, “VooDoo Child.”
For some of her broadcast journalism classes, she wrote briefs for the radio, most of which were five-minute breakdowns of the news and would be broadcast weekly. Brittain also was a floor manager for ESU’s televised athletics auction in the fall as part of her TV/Studio Production 2 class.
“ESU does a great job of getting you to try out different media,” she said.
Rob McKenzie, ESU distinguished professor of communication studies and Brittain’s adviser, has had her in class and has witnessed her doing special things behind the camera and when working on audio projects. As he helped her prepare for her interview with the Rachael Ray Show last December, he was never more convinced that she could handle the challenge.
“She’s extremely calm and doesn’t get rattled,” McKenzie said. “She’s very humble but doesn’t have an insecurity that comes through. Her speaking voice just reeks of broadcasting when you hear her talk and her whole demeanor is very pleasant.”
And her whole schedule is hectic. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Brittain leaves campus at 5 a.m. and doesn’t return until 8:30 or 9 p.m. Since her internship is for six credits with no financial reimbursement, she travels about an hour home every other weekend so she can waitress at the same restaurant she’s been working at since she was 15. Plus, she’s taking three classes at ESU. She’s thankful they are all online.
“I always thought I was a good communicator before,” Brittain said. “I pride myself in being able to talk to lots of different people, but even more-so now. I talk to pretty high-up people from time to time when they need me to do something, and I keep my cool. I feel more confident in my work. I used to second guess everything and ask someone I was comfortable asking. But now my confidence has increased.”
Although Brittain gets quick glances of the super-busy Ray darting by her, she has yet to have a one-on-one conversation or picture with her. That, she said, would just be a bonus.
“She’s very friendly,” Brittain said. “Everyone there is super, super nice. It’s more than I would have expected. Being such a fast-paced environment, you would think people would be more stand-offish, but they’re not. She’s a busy lady; she’s in and out. But every time I’ve come in contact with her, she’s been nothing but nice.”
What about getting around New York City, which is just a tad bigger than Upper Black Eddy or East Stroudsburg?
“I’m getting the hang of it for sure,” she said. “I’m able to make my way around, which is cool. They are throwing you on the subway, and I had never been on a subway. That was nerve-racking.”
Something that doesn’t have Brittain, a 2010 Palisades High School graduate, unnerved is her career path. Television it is.
“I know more now than ever,” Brittain said. “I did think I wanted to be on camera. I’ve changed over the years…from anchor to sports broadcaster. Now, actually being in it, I am more interested in the behind-the-scenes aspect of it. I love seeing what it takes to make a TV show. It’s cool to see it behind the scenes.”
It’s also cool to see just how much Brittain has accomplished.