January 28, 2011

Stephanie Zielinski ’11 Goes Behind the Scenes at 30 Rock with Catherine Miervaldis ’07

Catherine Miervaldis ’07 (left) and Stephanie Zielinski ’11 in front of Silvercup Studios.

Stephanie Zielinski ’11 (Grand Blanc, Mich.) walked into Silvercup Studios, watched filming for the next episode of 30 Rock, and chatted with Alec Baldwin.  Although this was a thrilling experience for Zielinski, it was just another day at the office for her host, Catherine Miervaldis ’07, NBC Universal executive assistant.

This 10-hour externship gave Zielinski, a double major in English and international economics & commerce, a valuable perspective into what goes on behind the scenes at the popular television show.

“Being around these celebrities was of course a new and exciting experience.  I’m a huge fan of 30 Rock and of Tina Fey, and I was lucky enough to meet her.  But for me, it was also very important that I got to meet the people behind the scenes,” she explains.

During her externship, Zielinski had the opportunity to meet with department heads for graphics, locations, set decorating, and post production.  Miervaldis also guided Zielinski on a tour of the three primary stages that 30 Rock rents within Silvercup Studios, including Liz Lemon’s apartment, the writers’ room of TGS, and Jack Donaghy’s office.  At a lunch with hundreds of crew members, Zielinski was treated to a sneak preview of episode 511, which would air later that evening.

When she wasn’t reading a script or meeting with staff members, Zielinski had the opportunity to watch a scene from an upcoming episode being filmed with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.  She was entertained off camera by Baldwin and was able to snag a picture with Fey in front of the “TGS with Tracy Jordan” sign.

“During this externship, I learned about all the components and people necessary to produce a television show.  [Miervaldis] explained to me how the writing and filming process works,” explains Zielinski, who is a member of the College’s Division I swimming team. “Without this experience, I would have never known that certain jobs even existed.  This has given me new insight into my own career search.”

This was Zielinski’s third year of serving an externship and she says that she has always had a wonderful experience, thanks to great hosts.  Miervaldis is also a product of Lafayette’s externship program.

“As someone who directly benefited from the Lafayette externship process, I think that this alumni-centric program provides a unique glimpse into industries of interest,” she says.  “I credit the externship process for where I am today, so for me it is a matter of repaying my debt.  Besides, it never hurts to have a fresh face come in and remind you of how lucky you are to have a job, let alone one with Tina Fey.”

For Zielinski, the externship helped her focus on what she wants to do after she graduates.  She had interned for a newspaper and a news station in her hometown, so she has some experience working in media and the news, but she was eager to learn about the entertainment industry.  “Where better to learn that than on the set of one of my favorite shows?”

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