MSNBC Internship Insights: Hank Butler ’17

Amanda Muccio ’18
Features Editor
The Tripod sat down with Hank Butler ’17, who scored a internship with MSNBC this past summer.
TT: What inspired you to apply and accept the internship with MSNBC?
HB: I’ve been interested in pursuing a career that explores the intersection of politics and public life for the majority of my life; I find the role that politics plays in our society to be incredibly fascinating because politics affect all of us. With those professional interests in mind, I had interned in a myriad of other professions that explore that intersection, such as legislative offices, non-profit organizations, and political campaigns. Because I’m the type of person who wants to explore as many career options as possible before committing to just one, I thought that interning in broadcast journalism would be another career path that would allow me to further explore that intersection. It was also something that I had always wanted to do, but was afraid to act on; it’s such a competitive industry to break into and I didn’t want to face the potential of failure.
But why or how did that lead me to MSNBC? Most people who know me know that I’m a political news junkie, with subscriptions to several different news outlets. But most importantly, I always had MSNBC on in my dorm room here on campus, or on my TV back at home in Vermont. It was something that I had always loved, but I never entertained the idea of working there until this summer. After the many rounds of the application process, I was told that I was selected for my favorite program on the network, “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell”. I had always admired and respected Lawrence’s style, and I was floored when I found out that I was matched with the show.
TT: Where was your internship located?
HB: My internship was located at NBCUniversal’s headquarters in New York City, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. It was a surreal experience walking into the building every day!
TT: How long was the  internship program?
HB: The NBCUniversal Newsgroup Internship Program lasted around two and a half months, and I was able to extend my internship a couple of days to further assist my team.
TT: What was your average day like?
HB: One of the beauties of working in broadcast journalism during an election cycle is that there was rarely an “average day”, because the nature of the news is that it develops, and sometimes it develops very quickly.
If there was an average day, it would usually involve getting into the office at around 2:00 pm where I would catch up on the news, and then our show would go into a staff meeting shortly afterwards and discuss how our show would look that night (which more often than not would change several times!), then I would be assisting the rest of the producers with whatever needs that they had, and then I would likely be assisting with anchor producing during the show at 10:00 pm, and leaving the office at around 11:00 pm  after the show would end. However, there were many nights when we would be covering a breaking news story, and would be putting in long hours to ensure a high quality broadcast that would inform our viewers.
TT: What is the most valuable lesson you learned?
HB: I think that the importance of being flexible/quick to adapt in changing situations and the importance of being confident in your abilities/calm under pressure. There were a lot of breaking news events this summer, and those skills were highly stressed during those instances.
TT: What is the coolest thing you got to do?
HB: The coolest part of my internship was when I served as the Talent Assistant for two and a half weeks of my internship. I got to know one of my lifelong heroes, and assist him with his needs, anchor produce the show, schedule travel, and act as a liaison between the talent and other departments. I was so lucky to have Lawrence be a mentor to me during that time.
And if that wasn’t cool enough, I was fortunate enough appear in a segment that aired on national television, and participate in a Facebook Live segment that was devoted to me!
TT: Would you like to add anything else?
HB: I really would like to say that I’m really grateful for the opportunity that was my summer internship. I never thought that I would be able to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams, and work at the company, as well as for the show, that I had always wanted to; I’m thankful for all of the friends, family, and faculty that helped get me to 30 Rock.

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