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Spending TODAY with Willie Geist!


Priyanka Aribindi

Photo courtesy of vucommodores.com. Education courtesy of vanderbilt.edu.

As the co-anchor of NBC’s storied TODAY Show’s third hour since 2012 as well as the co-anchor of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Willie Geist has become one of the most popular (and busiest!) fixtures in morning television. From sports to politics, Willie does it all way earlier than most of us even brew our first cup of coffee, and to top it all off, he’s a diehard Commodore from the Class of ’97!

Now, knowing that my favorite host on my favorite morning show shared the same classrooms and newsroom (he’s also a Hustler alum, so I’m clearly in good company) was cool enough, but through the Vandy on Madison Avenue internship program, 30 Vandy students including yours truly got to hang out with him right after he got off the air on Monday!

Vandy on Madison Avenue is a program through Vandy’s AMAZING career center that helps students find internships at media companies like NBCUniversal, Viacom, and more, and offers an accompanying lecture series with Vandy grads who have really made names for themselves in the media industry. In addition to Willie, we’ve also gotten to hear from Dan Lovinger (EVP of Entertainment Ad Sales at NBCUniversal, and the program mentor), Monique Nelson (CEO of UniWorld) and Brian Fetherstonhaugh (Chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide) — and that’s just been in the first month!

Now even though I didn’t get my internship at Time Inc. through VMA, the career center was nice enough to follow up with me to see if I was going to be in New York for the summer and would like to attend the lectures, which, just so you know, is probably the world record for the fastest response to an email ever (a resounding YES!).

So far, the speakers have been unbelievable, with amazing stories of propelling their careers from the same classrooms we’re in now and great advice on how to do that ourselves, but I have to say that our hour with Willie was something I really will remember for a long time. From answering my question about transitioning from print to broadcast (I know, I can’t believe I kept it together for long enough to ask a question either), to sharing how he worked his way up from logging tapes to stepping out on TV from behind the cameras, everything was fascinating. Plus, of all the alums I’ve met, Willie is one of the most dedicated Commodore fans, staying up well past his usual 9pm bedtime (an occupational hazard of having a 6am TV show, I guess) to catch the CWS finals and watch the Vandy boys become National Champs!


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