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‘I loved the adrenaline rush’

Journalism student Olivia Hesslein, AMD’15, says that working behind the scenes for two national news networks while on co-op has defined her career path. Now she wants to be a television news producer.

“Many of the interns I worked alongside wanted to be reporters and anchors, but I discovered that I really enjoy working on the back end of television news,” Hesslein said. “There are so many opportunities to grow and I find it really fascinating.”

Her passion for producing took hold during her first co-op, at MSNBC in New York City where she worked in the booking department, collaborating with producers to schedule guests to appear on the network’s daytime news shows. She also conducted research for news segments while on this co-op, which ran from July December 2012.

Hesslein’s co-op coincided with the network’s coverage of the London Olympics and the 2012 presidential election. “I loved the adrenaline rush of working in a live, day-turnover news environment,” she said. “You don’t always know what the big story will be that day before you come in to work. I enjoyed the suspenseful environment.”

Little did Hesslein know at the time that her next co-op would be located in the same building, Rockefeller Center, the home of NBC Nightly News. That co-op, which began in May 2014, provided her myriad hands-on experiences researching stories, pitching ideas to producers, and helping to coordinate and facilitate television shoots in the field. Her work ranged from helping research medical news pieces—“I think I know everything there is to know about Ebola now,” she said—to helping produce NBC Nightly News’ “Making a Difference” segments, which focus on everyday people’s efforts to improve their communities.

In addition to her pair of New York co-ops, Hesslein has interned at Boston’s NBC affiliate WHDH-TV on the assignment desk, worked for NUTV and The Huntington News, and is now interning two days a week on the news desk at WBZ-TV, CBS’ Boston affiliate.

Back on campus, Hesslein has seen a huge overlap in the skills she’s honed both on co-op and in class. “You learn things firsthand on co-op that you later learn more about in the classroom, and vice versa,” she said.

Hesslein transferred to Northeastern after her freshman year, in large part due to the university’s co-op program. “It’s made a huge impact on my college career,” she said. “I wanted the chance to have work experience and I got that—and so much more. One of the biggest things I got out of my co-ops was that my co-workers really gave me the space and trust to learn on the job. They didn’t hold my hand.”

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