Through the Looking Glass
An internship turns to mentorship when one LHSC senior is paired with an executive-producer alumna
Internships can be intimidating – navigating new settings with demanding supervisors, high expectations and a growing workload. Sometimes seeing a friendly face can make the world of difference.
This spring journalism major Christine Spagnuolo ’18 was accepted into The Fox News College Associate Program, working as an intern-level production assistant on The Five, a daily panel talk show airing on the Fox New Channel.
What she didn’t know was that her new manager, The Five’s executive producer Megan Albano ’04, would turn out to be a member of the Hofstra Pride. An alumna who, just like Spagnuolo, had started her career in the industry with a Fox internship.
“When I was a student I interned at Fox News Channel, News 12 Long Island and TV55,” Albano, a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism graduate, said. “I have spent the last 12-and-a-half years at Fox. I 100 percent credit my internships for guiding my career path. Without Hofstra, that wouldn’t have been possible.”
Albano and Spagnuolo work collaboratively in the news media setting to produce daily content. As an intern, Spagnuolo pitches stories, compiles research packets, creates graphics and more. And she gets to do this all alongside a fellow Hofstra member and mentor.
“I’m treated as a colleague and feel like an asset to the team rather than ‘just the intern’,” Spagnuolo said. “Megan has shown me that being an executive producer has its title for a reason. She is not only an exemplary producer but also an incredible boss, and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to meet her, work for her and learn from her this semester.”
As executive producer, Albano oversees the editorial content of The Five. Her daily task of creating an engaging show includes approving research packets, picking the best sound bites and working with segment producers and production assistants.
“Part of being an executive producer isn’t just making sure the show is up and running, it’s also making sure you are producing a show that showcases everyone’s best talents,” Albano said.
“It Will Always Pay Off in the End”
For the new generation of TV production staff, and Lawrence Herbert School of Communication seniors like Spagnuolo, gaining hands-on experience alongside a high-level executive producer such as Albano is invaluable.
When asked to share her No. 1 piece of advice for those looking to be successful in television production, Albano’s answer was the willingness to work any and every shift.
“Sure, it might stink to have to work overnights or the weekends, but I have done it all and it’s made me a better producer,” Albano said. “Those shifts give you the opportunity to shine. You get to take on extra responsibilities during those hours that will help you get promoted. Never be afraid to take on a less glamorous role. Never be afraid to take a risk. Never be afraid to move to a different city. It will always pay off in the end.”
Forming relationships and keeping bonds strong is also something else that Albano advises. After spending over a decade in the industry, it’s what kept her career healthy and growing. For up-and-coming young talent such as Spagnuolo, these strong working relationships can pay dividends.
“I’ve met lifelong friends because of this industry and met my husband while working weekends together,” Albano said. “This business is tough, so you tend to become friends with the people you work with. My husband and I now have a 10-month old baby girl. I’ve had a great career at Fox – I’ve been lucky enough to work my way up the ranks. But that didn’t come without a lot of hard work.”
After Spagnuolo’s internship concludes later this semester, she will apply to be a full-time production assistant. The Howard Beach native’s dream job is to one day be an executive producer or news director.
“Hofstra, my previous internships, Fox News Channel and of course Megan have all helped me determine that dream and work on the skills necessary to make the dream a reality,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s a great feeling to see my work move from the rundown on my computer screen to television screens. I’m honored that I’ve been able to experience that at Fox. It’s the perfect ending to what was a great college career at Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication.”
For Albano, getting the opportunity to show the ropes to a Hofstra senior brings back fond memories of her alma mater.
“I am forever grateful for the opportunities afforded to me at Hofstra because it gave me the foundation I needed to hit the ground running when I got into the professional world,” Albano said. “The lessons I learned there gave me the confidence I needed for real life experiences.”
“A couple of summers ago I brought my cousin on a college tour. As I was walking around campus, I began to remember all the great memories that were created on that campus. From life in C-Squared dorms, to hunting down people to talk to me for my next journalism assignment, I’d do it all over again. No questions asked.”