As a German Journalism student at John Moores University, it was an easy decision for me to apply for my third year work placement back home in Germany. However, the idea to apply at CNN in Berlin was rather wishful thinking, I thought, than actually expecting to be accepted.
But after weeks of waiting, numerous exchanged emails and one phone interview, I became the new CNN intern in Berlin.
The best moment of my four-week stay was undoubtedly my visit at a press conference given by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, where I sat right at the front next to BBC reporters and other professionals. I'm sure I looked a bit out of place and the fact that I was the only one who set off the security alarm didn’t really help me trying to blend in with the crowd.
Far from being the only highlight, the CNN placement offered me many other great work experiences.
My first impression of the bureau was surprising; a small, messy office with four desks and loads of equipment lying around. My tasks varied widely. I had prepared myself thoroughly, came up with a few story ideas and was told that CNN was looking for something else. So, the search started again. Every day newspapers and the news wires had to be scanned for potential stories and interesting news.
Additionally, the CNN correspondent had to do “Lives” at every top of the hour, reporting from Berlin about all sorts of different topics, which I mostly did the research for. It was interesting to see how these live reports work, and until then I had not the slightest idea about how many cables and how much panic can be involved.
The really interesting days started after about a week, when I got used to everything and when I was given more responsibility. Due to the smallness (and the good nature) of the team, I had suddenly become the junior producer. I found stories, did the research, organised shoots, introduced the interviewees to our correspondent and so on.
For example I visited lugers training for the Winter Olympics in the middle of a winter wonderland at -20 degrees, where I even got to do some filming and made some contacts with other media representatives. The athletes, Tatjana Hüfner, Alexander Resch and Patric Leitner, actually ended up winning Olympic medals, making the packages we filmed some of the most requested video footage during the Olympics.
A day later we then went to the most modern army base in Europe, where the German Minister of Defence met with soldiers, preparing for their deployment to Afghanistan.
But the real excitement started during my last week at the CNN office. The rest of the team had gone to Afghanistan to report from there, while I was in the bureau by myself, and that's how I came to be at the press conference with Angela Merkel and Hamid Karzai. The German Chancellor made eye contact a couple of times, and, as a German, it was hard not to be just a bit proud when she smiled at me.
It was a once-in-a-student-lifetime experience, and it did exactly what a work placement should do – prepare me for the real world of a journalist's work. I can't wait to get started for real.
By Victoria J Fode, Deputy Website Producer
More JMU Journalism stories
Afghan President Hamid Karzai & German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Germany's parliament, the Bundestag