Let’s be honest. I applied to the NBCUniversal East Coast Page Program to more easily answer the dreaded senior-year question, “What are you doing next?” I know it was shallow, but hey, the same logic led me to Northwestern four years earlier and that turned out just fine.
To be fair, I always dreamed of being a Page. As a TV history buff, I knew the program was notorious for launching broadcast careers (notably Regis Philbin, Ted Koppel, and Disney President Michael Eisner), and even more notorious for providing exclusive access to an otherwise closed-door industry. Former Pages work everywhere in broadcast media, and (especially after going through college unaffiliated) I was lured by the fraternity of it all.
I like the word “Page” too. It sounds elegant to my ears, almost romantic.
Therefore, in the middle of an otherwise clueless senior year, I threw my hat into the Page ring. Thankfully I had a strong list of internships and the help of the EPICS team to back my application. One thing led to the next and after a lengthy 4-month interview process, I snuck my way into the program. Wide-eyed and weary, I packed my bags for New York in April, officially doing “what I was doing next.”
I’ve had the privilege to work on two major assignments during my Page year — one in development at CNBC and one with Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Because the program is rotational, it has conditioned me for all sorts of work. From coordinating press events inside the New York Stock Exchange to escorting Snooki to her dressing room, things have been far from routine.
Pages learn how to get things done even when they have no idea to start. We live in a dysfunctional middle-ground between intern and staff in which both everything and nothing is expected out of us. Pages learn how to promote their strengths in order to secure more responsibility all the while masking their weaknesses to avoid unfair blame.
The push-and-pull of the program has taught me a lot about balance. Some days are boring and others are overwhelmingly exciting. I learned about that contrast at Northwestern though — a place where winter days drag and Dillo Days shine.
No first job out of college lasts forever, and if you can nab one as obnoxiously fun as mine, you should go for it. You may, like me, work ridiculously long hours. It’s okay. You’re used to long nights. You may, like me, live in eight different apartments within a year’s time. No big deal. One night in Bobb-McCullough prepares you for anything. You may, like me, stand on the studio floor of a Saturday Night Live broadcast, simultaneously feeling as big and small as you ever have felt before. The feeling will be nothing new to you though. You’ve stood on the shore of Lake Michigan.
I hate to write this blog with an objective “you” because I’m only ten months out of school and not much closer to figuring things out than you — Northwestern student — are. Additionally, although my first year out has been unusually colorful, it’s not much different than that of my 2012 peers. We’ve had shared experiences all across the country, and we all agree: it’s a time to learn about ourselves — a time to decide what we want and how we’ll pace out the next 40+ years to make it happen.
It’s said amongst NBC employees that “all roads lead to the Page desk.” I’ve found this quality of my job to be the most rewarding. After all, once enough people come to your desk to ask what you’re doing, you’re bound to develop some answers.
Here’s to Kenneth.
Ryan Hynes (C12) lives and works in New York City. He’s an aspiring digital storyteller with an affinity for heartwarming commercials. At Northwestern, he served as the President of Arts Alliance and a Video Coordinator for Dance Marathon and NUFitRec. Ryan was born and raised in Arvada, Colorado.