Senior Marissa Avnaim has not let COVID-19 prevent her from chasing her dreams. A journalism major and political science minor, Avnaim spent the summer virtually interning with NBC’s “Today” show and will spend the fall virtually interning with NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Avnaim recently recieved an on-air shout out from “Today” for National Intern Day.
Avnaim was unsure of what to expect when the program went virtual, but said NBC did a wonderful job creating an interactive, virtual program that kept the interns engaged and provided a lot of work to do.
As a production intern at “Today,” Avnaim worked on the pre-production side of things, conducting research for producers, booking guests and helping with interviews. She also pitched story ideas and helped produce the now virtual TODAY Show Plaza.
This unique season of life with the current global pandemic and the upcoming election made for a great time to work in news. Avnaim was able to help with the political coverage on the show and interviewed people in politics and several celebrities. She enjoyed getting to hear their stories and words of inspiration, but her favorite part of the experience was reaching out to fans of the show and potential guests to ask if they wanted to appear on the show.
“I’m honored to have had so much responsibility on the show and getting to book guests that appeared on live segments. It’s always cool to sit in on the interviews afterward and see how your research genuinely contributes to the show,” she said. “That’s what I’m really looking forward to this fall, too.”
Avnaim credits a lot of where she is today to her Belmont faculty and friends. “I learned a lot at NBC, but my Belmont professors have been there with me every step of the way. They’ve taught me, supported me and believed in me, and I think that’s the biggest thing, especially in journalism. It’s really reassuring when professionals believe in you. They gave me confidence that I could intern with ‘Today’ and move onto another big show.”
Faculty helped her prepare for her interviews and served as a huge support system throughout the process. She said Belmont’s program is unique in that it teaches students how to write, shoot and edit and that overall it has given her the tools she needed to succeed.
“I came to Belmont not knowing anything about journalism, and now being able to say I’ve interned for the ‘Today’ Show and moving on to ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’ is amazing; I never thought I’d say those words,” she said. “Working with The Vision gave me a lot of extra experience and working under Dorren Robinson, Jen Duck and Dr. Sybril Brown took me from not knowing much about journalism to feeling confident in my skills and feeling confident that I could contribute to these big shows. I felt like a seasoned journalist when I got there.”
Avnaim will continue executing her skills as a research intern on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” researching all of the news that goes into the monologue and the “Closer Look” segment, as well background on all of the guests who appear on the show. She will go through the biggest headlines and try to find unique stories for Meyers to cover that no other late night show has covered.
This opportunity is a chance to explore her creative side, in comparison with the hard news research she was doing with “Today.” She said, “To be able to work at ‘Late night’ which is more creative and satirical and also to be able to say I worked for the very first show NBC airs and the very last show that NBC airs is going to be such a cool experience. I’ll be able to compare how morning news is to late night news, and I’m just so excited.”
Approaching her May 2021 graduation, Avnaim said these opportunities have only reaffirmed her desire to work in the news and political world. Through her experience as a sideline reporter for Belmont’s ESPN+, she would also like to pursue a career on air at some point. “I want to learn about production and research so right now I am just open to the world of production and news. I am lucky to say I get to do something I genuinely love every day. For me it’s just about finding the right job, but I definitely hope that includes something on air and something in news and politics. That’s where my heart is.”
Avnaim said she would not be where she is now without her Belmont faculty: “Both in journalism and my phenomenal political science professors, as well as the Belmont athletics department,” she said. “I wouldn’t have the ‘Today’ show experience or the ‘Seth Myers’ experience if it weren’t for me choosing Belmont. I’m just so lucky to have come across the professors I’ve had, and I just can’t thank them enough for supporting and believing in me.”