CNN health news internship gives communication major front line experience

Alexandra Benisek ’20 recently completed a semester-long internship at CNN in Atlanta. In her role as a Health Intern (timely, as it turned out), Benisek wrote internal alerts for CNN after monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) pressers.

The recent graduate also had the opportunity to work first-hand with CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen and Sanjay Gupta while assisting in producing their live segments. During one of these segments, Benisek accompanied Cohen to film and write on President Donald Trump’s visit to Atlanta in March. [Read the article by Cohen, with Benisek’s contributions, here.]

Alexandra Benisek ’20

“I was surprised to be able to develop a close relationship with Elizabeth Cohen and Sanjay Gupta. Since they are both big names in the industry, having direct access to learn from them was amazing,” Benisek said. “I gained so much from shadowing both of them. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much they cared to teach me the knowledge they accumulated during their careers.”

As early as her first week at CNN, the internship’s focus on health meant that the budding journalist shifted from covering normal health topics to covering COVID-19 developments. Meanwhile, Benisek also learned how to produce news shows, work under extreme deadlines, and gained confidence in her skills as a journalist.

“The journalists and producers [at CNN] taught me the importance of fully trusting your abilities. Especially in media careers, confidence is one of the most important skills you can possess.”

The professionalism, commitment, and passion that I saw from my team at CNN were unparalleled.

One reason the Communication Studies major decided to attend Oglethorpe was her intent to intern at Atlanta’s CNN. Her dream became a reality when Dr. Kate Keib and Dr. Seema Shrikhande introduced and helped Benisek network with CNN contacts.

“They continue to support me and check in on my success, even after graduation. I cannot stress how important these two are to me, and I will forever be grateful for their kindness, honesty, and ability to push me to do my best,” Benisek said about the two Communication Studies professors. “Dr. Keib and Dr. Shrikhande taught me the value of speaking the truth and reporting factual information, especially in hard times. All of the classes that I took with them taught me skills to work under pressure, work efficiently, and work with passion.”

Benisek also credits Chi Omega for teaching her how to be a professional, career-oriented woman.

“The women of Chi Omega gave me the confidence and support to chase my dreams of working in the media. With their support, I was able to see my goal and run after it,” Benisek said when reflecting on her time in the sorority.

While at Oglethorpe, Benisek also served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Stormy Petrel newspaper. In that role, she learned how to collaborate and publish articles quickly and professionally, as well as build the professional portfolio that she used in her application for CNN.

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