As an aspiring political correspondent, there are many big moments to cover.
Election nights. Congressional Hearings. Inaugurations. State of the Union addresses.
For me, this week was a huge step forward in my professional career. I will never forget covering my first SOTU. And while my beloved Eagles may not play until Sunday, Tuesday was my Super Bowl.
After weeks of planning, reaching out to Congressional offices, getting rejected, finally getting interview confirmations, the time had finally come. I was off on a train to Washington with my photographer/producer extraordinaire Ben for three days of State of the Union coverage from Washington.
Our first day, we set out to meet the CNN News Source team, with whom we would be working with in the coming days. TUTV is an affiliate of CNN, and so we are able to reserve workspace and pay to use some of their resources such as live locations on Capitol Hill.
After shooting teases and b-roll, we set off to our first interview with Representative Dwight Evans (D-2nd District). I asked him about his expectations for President Trump's address the next evening, about the recent ruling for a new Pennsylvania Congressional map due to alleged gerrymandering by the GOP, and what he will be working on in the coming year.
The next morning, we headed back to the hill for our second interview with Representative Scott Perry (R-4th District). I asked him similar questions to the ones I asked Representative Evans, and in my head, I started to put my package together - what I wanted to focus on, what I wanted the voice to be. After we wrapped filming, we took the Capitol's little subway that connects all the buildings to the Russell Rotunda.
I grew familiar with the Russell building over the summer when I was with ABC NewsOne - this is where all the networks shoot their live hits during big events on the hill. Since we were working with CNN as affiliates, we were able to use their balcony location to shoot our piece.
For ten minutes, I felt like I was the real deal. I channeled my inner Mary Bruce, who I have idolized for so long. I thought about how hard I have worked to get here. And suddenly, it all just clicked. I was in my element.
There's just something that comes over you when you find your niche, when you are so passionate about something, and you get to do it every single day. And while I still have a few semesters left, this was just a taste of what is yet to come for me. And it was one of the most exhilarating moments of my reporting career thus far.
I wasn't feeling challenged by the end of the fall semester. I was doing similar stories of people getting mugged or beat up - sad, serious stories. I wasn't testing my limits, I wasn't developing my craft because I had become stuck in a routine. This broke me away from that muscle memory, put me in an environment that I thrive in - a fast paced, ever changing, chaotic workflow that I love and truly tested me. I can't wait to do this every single day.
So I guess what I'm trying to say - don't become complacent. Look for new ways to challenge yourself. Find ways to better yourself at your craft. Take people's professional notes and criticisms and practice and make yourself the best you can be.
Until next time, Washington...