August 16, 2011

Wrapping Up With Giuliani

Last week was my final week at work, and it was also the most eventful.  On Wednesday, I was heading to my friend Abbey’s place in Queens when I got a text from my boss asking me to call her.  I was pretty nervous, because she almost never texted me when I had the day off.  I also could not tell the tone of her voice since it was a text.  Had I done something wrong?  I racked my brain and could not figure out why she was contacting me.  I called her as soon as I could.  Unfortunately, that was at a subway stop in Queens where I was surrounded by people trying to either get on or off the subway, and where trains were racing by and making a lot of noise (many subway stops in Queens are above ground, unlike those in Manhattan, which are mostly underground).  Trying to find a “quiet” spot, I called my boss.  She asked the most unexpected question: Would I like to accompany a reporter who was interviewing Rudy Giuliani the next day?  I immediately told my boss, Sharon, yes.  When else would I have the chance to meet Giuliani?  I then had to call the reporter who I would be shadowing, and we decided to meet outside Giuliani’s law firm half an hour before the interview.

I was extremely nervous before this interview.  This was hands down the most famous person that I was going to see while in New York, and the last thing I wanted to do was to leave a bad impression.  Before going, I brushed myself up on Giuliani’s history (thank you, Wikipedia, for your summaries), and I reviewed his political history.  I was not going to be talking during the interview, just observing, but I did not want to be unprepared.  When I met the reporter outside the law firm, he told me that he was interviewing Giuliani about the 9/11 anniversary, and he would ask political questions at the end.  After being checked by security, we took the elevator up to the 49th floor and waited to be called back.  While waiting, I took the opportunity to talk to the reporter.  I asked him about his career and he asked me about what I wanted to do after I graduated.  We were talking about New York 1, which is like CNN for New York, when he dropped a bombshell:  He was the president of the New York Press Club.  Therefore, he has thousands of contacts that would be useful to me.  I tried really hard to contain myself, but it was hard not to smile and bounce up and down in my seat.  I knew that I would have to get his contact information after the interview.

Rudy Giuliani and me.

Then we were called back to a conference room.  Water bottles, pens and pads of paper were stationed at each seat.  We were joined by an assistant and a friend of Giuliani’s (whose name has escaped me, but he did look very familiar when I was introduced to him), and we chatted until the man himself arrived.  The first thing I heard him say?  Asking someone to make sure the Yankees game was playing in his office.  He was in a great mood during the interview.  I think it helped that he knew the reporter who was interviewing him.  The reporter had followed him all throughout 9/11 and had gotten to know him and his secretary.  Now, Giuliani gives him a courtesy interview every so often.  This was one of those interviews.

After some small talk about other reporters, a former governor’s funeral, and (what else?) the Yankees, the interview began.  It was a once in a lifetime experience.  I got to see how the reporter conducted the interview, and I got to see Giuliani’s responses.  Giuliani is intertwined with 9/11, and he said that people from all over come up and tell him where they were when the planes hit the towers.  Listening to him talk about the people who died – and specifically mentioning their names and their families – was touching.  Since I’m from Ohio, 9/11 did not have as much of an impact on me as it did for those who lived closer to the city.  Now, it had an impact for sure, and I can remember exactly where I was when the planes struck (first period home ec class in sixth grade), but I was not nearly as affected by it as New Yorkers were.  Listening to them talk about it is emotional.  Even when I shadowed another reporter earlier in my internship, tears swelled in his eyes when he briefly mentioned it.

Construction on Ground Zero. The memorial will open on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Giuliani had previewed the memorial the day before I met him.

Anyway, Giuliani was the perfect interviewee.  He gave long, detailed answers to the reporter’s questions.  As he talked, I took a few pictures that could go up on the website (check later.  Maybe it will be there when it gets closer to the anniversary).  When Giuliani was asked about his future in politics, he did not rule out running for president.  After, he asked me a couple of questions (including what I wanted to do when I graduated and if I was a Buckeyes fan) and I got a picture with him (yes!).

To make the day even better, the reporter gave me his card without me asking and told me to keep in touch, because he could try and help me find a job.  Even though I had just sat through an interview with Giuliani, this was probably the most exciting part of the day.  I knew this internship would be great for my resume, that I would get a great experience, and that I would have great contacts, but I never expected to get in contact with the president of the New York Press Club.  Later that night he even texted me and asked for my resume.  I felt as though I was on cloud nine.

To top it off, the news director and Sharon both said that I was welcome back anytime and that they would give me a recommendation!  In journalism, companies usually cannot offer jobs a year in advance like other places; it is very need-based oriented.  But, they said that they could help me find a job!  I am still waiting for the news director’s critique on my final project, but at least I have the comfort of knowing that I did well at my internship.  It has been a crazy ride, and I have loved every minute of it.  It made me a better journalist and gave me great contacts that will hopefully help me secure a job.

Side note:  Sorry this entry was long, but I hope you enjoyed it.  I might write another one that details my final project, since I would love to share that experience.  I just decided to cut off this one here, because it is pretty long.

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