From communication student to NBC Nightly News intern


Jaala Brown knew by the end of high school that she wanted to pursue a career in the media industry.

Jaala Brown with NBC's Lester Holt
Photo provided

Now, as the George Mason University communication major prepares for a May graduation, that pursuit is paying dividends, as she is working as an intern for NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt.

That is just the latest stop for Brown, who through several internships used her time at Mason to gain the real-world experience she would need to be career-ready once she left school.

That path, she said, is exactly why she chose Mason, Virginia's largest and most diverse public institution with a proximity to Washington, D.C. and its opportunities for internships and networking.

“Make the most of your time while you’re here,” Brown said.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic proved challenging, Brown, from Richmond, Virginia, took advantage of the virtual landscape to follow her passion and landed internship after internship, including as a production intern at CNN and a talent development intern at CNBC.

“The pandemic worked to my benefit,” Brown said. “A lot of the internships that would have been geographically impossible became virtual, allowing students like me to take advantage of these opportunities.”

At the start of her senior year, Brown secured an internship as a News Special Reports intern with NBC News. Brown, who said her ultimate dream job is to become an executive producer of a news show, was excited to work on breaking news.

“Long hours and a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said of the internship. “I loved every moment of it.”

During Brown’s first week on the job Queen Elizabeth II passed away. Then came Hurricane Ian and the destruction in Southwest Florida, and the midterm elections.

“It was non-stop,” Brown said.

Brown’s current internship with the Nightly News with Lester Holt is also her first that is in-person. She works in the show’s Washington, D.C., office, mainly with the weekend team, pulling research, reviewing scripts, and pitching stories.

Brown said she couldn’t have done it without the support she received from Mason. University Career Services and her professors played a significant role in helping Brown tailor her resume and prepare for interviews. Department of Communication adjunct professor Barbara Burfeind also spent an entire class reviewing and tailoring every student's resume, offering her guidance and support.

Brown’s advice to incoming students: “Get involved, get involved, get involved. The more involved you are, the more connections you make. Find clubs and activities, be open to going to Career Services and asking your professors for help. And definitely get internships.”