A Summer at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center

Laurie and ElmoLaurie Rabin was an intern in the research department here at the Cooney Center this past summer; we’ve recently dug up a copy of a letter that she wrote to herself — from the future! — upon completing her internship to her younger self as she was about to begin her adventure. We are pleased to share this letter with you, with Laurie’s permission.


Dear Laurie (circa June 2012, B(JGC)C),

First of all, congratulations! You made it here. Remember when you emailed the Cooney Center website to your best friend almost six months ago and said “I don’t know if they want a summer intern, but I’m going to be it.” Well you’re it. Great job! Just like you thought, this is the hub of kids and digital media research.

Laurie and the wall of charactersNow get ready because you’re about to have a great summer. Nerding out about that awesome lobby display with the moving pictures of all the Sesame Street characters? Don’t worry, everyone else thinks it’s awesome too.

You’re probably coming in here thinking that you’re going to do a lot of “intern work” — transcribing, coding and the like. Guess what? You’re right. But you’ll also plan a focus group, learn about technology within Hispanic and Latino families, hear about learning through embodied cognition, and about parents’ co-reading habits with e-books. This will be better schooling in children, children’s media, and children’s technology habits than any class you could take. Best of all, you not only get to sit in on research meetings, but you get to participate. You get to share what you are doing with everybody else and they’ll look at you like you did something really impressive even though it was really no big deal. When you’re in a meeting, your opinion will be valued—here you will not just be an intern, you will truly be part of the team. Of course, you will have to do a lot of transcribing and coding—but you know what? It feels pretty good when it’s all finished. You’ll even get to use that VBA you spent a semester on and thought was a waste of time. And entering contact information into a database is pretty much like a beat-the-clock game. You’ll beat the clock, don’t worry (of course, you set it for yourself).

But really what you will get out of this internship is the chance to meet a lot of really terrific people. Get to know the people who work at the Cooney Center, but also people throughout the Workshop. The knowledge and relationships you’ll get from meeting people here will certainly be one of the most valuable things you can get out of this summer. You may find that there are a lot of places in the Workshop that suit your fancy—more on this below. Don’t be afraid to email someone or ask a question—the people here are all as advertised: friendly neighbors. And let the people get to know you too. Hold in your crazy for as long as you can, but when you just can’t hold it in anymore, it’s okay to let it out. Quirky quidditch players and Elmo-bubble-blower-lovers are welcome here (check out Lori’s desk for the great toys). Remember what someone once told you: doing a good job is good, forming good relationships is great.

Allow yourself to learn not only research and material, but also about yourself. You’ll discover that while grad school may be in your future, it probably isn’t your next step. You’ll reaffirm your interest in the pre-school age group. You’ll realize just how important a work environment, company culture, and friendship are to your happiness at work. At the end of your internship you may be asking yourself different questions than when you came in: Is research the place you want to be, or like Michelle mentioned in your interview, do you need to “make” something? What other areas of children’s media are you interested in? Do you want to go toward television, digital media, or something else? Is content what you want to head towards, or is it some other area? What are the areas that you still don’t know about and how can you find out more? What do you still need to learn in order to get where you want to go? What do you already know how to do, and how can you demonstrate that to potential employers? What can you do over the next 9 months to give you the best chance to get where you want to be after graduation? Mostly, you’ll be asking yourself the question that so many ask: How do you get to—or rather, back to—Sesame Street?

I’d wish you good luck, but from my view, I don’t think you need it.


Laurie (August 2012, ADeparture from JGCC)


P.S. You will meet Kevin Clash and Elmo. Commence excessive excitement now.