Oct 03, 2016

Internship Diary: National Public Radio (NPR)

By Ben Chandler T'17

This summer, with help from Tuck GIVES, I interned at NPR in Washington, D.C. as a consultant in the office of the COO. It was far and away the most rewarding experience I could have asked for in a summer internship.

The work I did was challenging and meaningful. I learned a lot about journalism, the media industry, nonprofits, consulting, and perhaps most importantly, how dedicated NPR’s staff is. My internship began with a stunningly beautiful memorial for David Gilkey and Zabihullah Tamanna, an NPR photographer and his translator who were killed in Afghanistan just a day before I started. Although the mood on that Monday was somber, watching the organization rally around a fallen colleague throughout the summer was truly touching and inspiring.

Other days were punctuated with Tiny Desk Concerts, sitting in on show recordings, and learning about the latest technological innovations NPR is implementing to make their programming available to more and more people. Shameless plug: If you haven’t yet downloaded the NPR One App, do it now!

Through my boss, Michael Lutzky T’06 (a former Washington Post photographer and McKinseyite), I received incredible guidance, feedback, and access to speak with and present to senior executives throughout NPR. I may also have had a small influence on Hidden Brain, a podcast that covers issues of human behavior and social sciences in really interesting ways. I got to sit next to the producers of the show and occasionally, in between their endless witty banter and creativity, Maggie Penman or Max Nesterak would lean over their standing desks to ask me, “the business person,” what I thought of a certain idea they were working on or an edit of the show.

As a nonprofit, NPR is highly focused on its mission to “work in partnership with its member stations to create a more informed public.” As a “business person” used to thinking almost exclusively in terms of profitability and the bottom line, thinking in terms of audience impact and mission presented a whole new dimension for me to consider, and one that I’ll definitely keep in mind coming back to Tuck as a second-year student.