Gaelle Belhseine is a senior IAML major, pursuing a minor in Economics, and she has also studied abroad with the French LBAT program. She has been a part of the Georgia Tech Competitive Model United Nations team since her freshman year, and served as the club’s President this past year. Gaelle is also a Resident Advisor (RA) for Georgia Tech Housing and loves the opportunities it gives her to meet new people and plan events. While she hasn’t yet figured out what she wants to pursue post-graduation, she has taken part in several internships during her time at Tech, that have exposed her to different industries and careers. These include a Congressional internship with the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the U.S. House of Representatives, a legal internship at a local law firm, and a Public Relations (PR) internship with both CNN International and CNN Breaking News. We asked her a few questions about her internship with CNN in 2012, and how her time at Tech helped her succeed in her internship.
What do/did you enjoy most about your internship and what do/did you find most challenging?
The most challenging part is dealing with breaking news. An example would be President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration. CNN is a fast-paced environment in general, but when something like this happens everything goes into full drive. I have to be quick and on my toes, but at the same time be very careful with what I push out so as to not tarnish the CNN brand.
Even though dealing with breaking news is challenging, it is also my favorite part of working at CNN. When news breaks, the atmosphere is absolutely exhilarating! I find that I get so engulfed with the work that I actually want to skip lunch or stay late just to cover what is going on. I’m also a big advocate of being aware of what is going on in the world, so being able to be a part of CNN’s coverage of these events has been a great experience.
Tell us about an experience that made an impression on you during your internship.
One experience that really made an impression on me during my internship was getting my first pitch hit. I wrote a pitch for Carol Costello, who anchors the 9am-11am ET edition of CNN Newsroom. After writing the pitch, I sent it out to radio stations and newspapers in the Midwest -where she is from- to get them to do a feature on her. Afterwards, I followed to discuss why they should want to do a feature on Carol. This last step was a little daunting to me since I had no experience in pitching, and having to speak with journalists and radio producers over the phone while representing CNN was a little intimidating. However, after much practice and a couple of follow up phone calls, I got a hit for Carol to be a guest on a morning radio show in Ohio.
This experience stands out to me for a couple of reasons. First, this pitch was my creation. I got to do everything from writing the questions for Carol, whose answers were the basis for the pitch, to setting up a time and day that Carol would be on the show. Another reason this stands out is that even though the idea of pitching was daunting, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and asked my boss for the opportunity to do a pitch. After this hit, pitching gradually became easier.
In what ways did your time at Tech prepare you for the internship?
Studying International Affairs at Georgia Tech really helped me during my time at CNN, especially when I was working with CNN International. Being aware of current affairs in the international community enabled me to have meaningful input to contribute to meetings and coverage of events, like the crisis in Syria and Egypt’s elections.
Another way studying International Affairs prepared me for the internship was by sending me off with writing skills. In PR, we are constantly drafting language that has to be clear, concise, and informative. The writing I did in my various International Affairs classes gave me an advantage when having to write things like summaries, pitches, and bios.