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Always Be Nice To The Interns

I'm terrible with names. And that flaw is perhaps no more apparent than when the yearly crop of interns shows up at CNBC.

In most semesters, one or two will tend to make an impression and remembering their names is not an issue. They have a strong work ethic, they're eager to please, hungry to soak up knowledge, anxious to network and to handle what some might say are menial, but nonetheless very helpful tasks. Still, many of them simply come to the studio, kill time and leave unnoticed. Over the years (at TV stations I've worked at) I've seen some co-workers treat interns like go-fers and personal assistants. I've never done that. My only problem is remembering their names.

In my senior year of college I had an unpaid internship at the CBS owned-and-operated station in Los Angeles which then went by the call letters KNXT (today it's KCBS). USC didn't offer class credit for internships either. I was assigned to what was then the very prestigious investigative unit at the station. I made lots and lots of phone calls, spent days at libraries (yes, it was pre-internet) digging up research, and hours upon hours logging, transcribing interviews.

I had hoped to parlay the internship into an entry-level position as a production assistant, but CBS had a hiring freeze at the time (sound familiar?). Graduation came and went, my parents were breathing down my neck about getting a paying job, but I continued to provide my free services to Channel 2 (the investigative team graciously let me extend the "internship" long after the semester was over.) And being there eventually paid off. That's where I heard through the grapevine about an on-air reporting position in Great Falls, Montana that I ended up getting--after wearing down the news director, mind you, with almost daily phone calls. Starting pay, by the way: $10,700/year.

My career later took me to Tucson where I worked at ABC affiliate KGUN and crossed paths with one of the most memorable and hardest working interns. He shadowed reporters and crews on his own time sneaking in the opportunity to shoot stand-ups (that's when a reporter appears on camera from the field) and put together pieces for a resume tape.

His work so impressed the boss he was allowed to do on-air work--as an intern! That's a rarity, even in a medium-sized market like Tucson. Remembering his name wasn't a problem then or later. I and my colleagues could all see that he had "it." Yesterday, that former intern won a plum position as the new moderator/host of NBC's "Meet The Press." Congratulations David.

    • David Gregory fills "Meet the Press" role at NBC

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com