Nebraska to New York

Molly shares her journey of how she went from a kid watching the Today Show before school to ending up on the set in NBC Studios at Rockefeller Plaza ten years later.  Read on to see how TV, nutrition, and the Friedman School all played an integral role in a career-shaping experience for Molly.

Molly standing in front of one of Joy's healthy food swaps to be aired on the segment. Hoda is behind all the cameras in the background! (Photo provided by author.)
Molly standing in front of one of Joy’s healthy food swaps to be aired on the segment. Hoda is behind all the cameras in the background! (Source: Molly Knudsen)

Every morning before school, I would enjoy breakfast at the kitchen counter while my mom watched the Today Show in the adjoining room.  In our neck of the woods, Omaha, Nebraska to be precise, this was my household’s primary outlet into what was happing in our country and the rest of the world.  The background noise from the television did little to perk my interest away from my hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs.  However, one regular guest on the show always seemed to catch my attention ­­­­— Joy Bauer.

Joy is the health and nutrition expert on the Today Show, and is the author of 12 New York Times best sellers.  Joy was one of my first introductions to the field of nutrition and dietetics.  I specifically remember her segments comparing the nutrient and calorie content of different meal choices at fast food restaurants.  I recall how 12-year-old Molly was astonished by how a salad could contain more calories than a hamburger at certain fast food outlets.  Joy was so knowledgeable, engaging, and realistic on the nutrition segments, and watching her on the Today Show with my mom helped light the path for my future career.

Fast-forward about ten years from Omaha, and I am now a newly credentialed dietitian who recently moved to Boston to begin graduate work at the Friedman School.  After the first two days of fall orientation and before I moved into an apartment, I received the first Friedman Weekly Digest email while I was sitting in a hotel room with my mom.  While scrolling through the list of opportunities available to students, I stopped and gasped.  Joy Bauer Ventures had a part-time internship position available.  I was sure as heck not going to let this experience pass me by.  After a two-week application process, I somehow managed to secure the position.  Not only was this a great introduction to nutrition communications, but I was also about to have the opportunity to work for the woman who introduced me to this field.  I was on cloud nine, as was my mom.

Joy Bauer Ventures takes several rounds of interns each year and often looks to the Friedman School to find qualified applications for her internship positions.

We love our interns and appreciate their hard work! Every day is an adventure in my world, and our crackerjack interns (aka future health leaders!) are thrown into all sorts of exciting projects for TV, radio, publications and digital. It’s amazing to see the new skills they acquire in such a short amount of time!”

-Joy Bauer

Without that connection between Joy Bauer Ventures and the Friedman School, I would have never learned about this internship opportunity.

Joy has a team of two full-time employees, who were my main contacts for the internship: Rebecca, a Friedman Nutrition Communications alumna, and Donna, an editor.  The internship was remote, so I was primarily in touch with them via e-mail or an occasional phone call.  Since Joy Bauer Ventures is such a small operation, I was really able to get my hands dirty with a variety of tasks!

Joy has very active Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, and she publishes content almost daily, if not more, on each platform.  So, each week, I submitted suggestions for potential social media posts. This required not only keeping constant tabs on all three outlets, but also reviewing her past posts to understand who her audience was and what voice and tone with which she used to communicate.  Fun fact: I actually created a Twitter account during this internship for the sole purpose of following Joy!  It was always exciting to see a post suggestion end up on one of her pages and be noticed by thousands, or more, of her followers.

Joy’s motto is “Life is hard, food should be easy.”  In order to make that motto actionable for her audience, brainstorming and drafting healthy recipes was almost a weekly part of this internship.  Creativity was key for this! Patience was also important, especially in one instance when the recipe I was testing called for a guava, and I had to go to four different grocery stores to find one. Pro tip: avoid seeking guavas in Boston in November.

Before Thanksgiving, Joy Bauer and personal trainer, Will Weber, teamed up to create a six-week Trim Before Turkey challenge for three women on the Today Show.  Joy created a meal plan outline for the women to follow, and I was able to work individually with one of them on her weight loss journey.  Weight loss is no easy task, but the ladies were successful in achieving their lifestyle change goals, while becoming more confident in themselves and their capabilities.  All three ladies had amazing transformations.  Click here to learn more about Trim Before Turkey.

Molly and Joy in front of the crowd at Rockefeller Plaza after the filming of Joy's segment. (Photo provided by author.)
Molly and Joy in front of the crowd at Rockefeller Plaza after the filming of Joy’s segment. (Photo provided by author.)

Remote internships can be a great experience, especially when confined to one city during the school year (I’m talking about you, Boston).  But, there was one day when I was able to actually be on location.  In January, Joy and her team were kind enough to invite and host me for a filming of a segment for the Today Show.  Of course, I jumped at this opportunity!  I was able to meet Joy and Rebecca at NBC Studios in Rockefeller Plaza, see her prepare for the segment, and then watch the segment live in person.  Being present in the studio was a surreal experience with the lights, the cameras, and the crowd outside!  Being able to meet the people I worked with all semester was such a treat, and seeing Joy do her thing live in New York City was an experience I will forever be grateful for.   This was a day that the 12-year-old Molly could never have imagined happening.  But now, I have the experience, memories and photos to prove it!

Molly Knudsen, RDN is a first year Nutrition Interventions Communication and Behavior Change student.  She is an avid viewer of Today Show viewer, who tried not to fan-girl too hard when she saw Hoda, a co-anchor of the show, on set.  She was only slightly overwhelmed when visiting NYC, but enjoyed the 20 hours she was able to spend there.

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