It’s a dog-gone good month for Laurenellen McCann ’09.
After spending her entire summer working for an independent television production company, the government major’s work was finally broadcast Oct. 11 on the network, Animal Planet.
As one of three associate producers for the new series Dogs 101, McCann was at the front line of creative thought for each episode. She was responsible for researching the information to be disseminated in every episode, including details about the dog breeds featured and the best stories to make them stand out.
“Now I have the esteemed thrill of telling stories about Chihuahua birthday parties and late night calls to Buckingham Palace for Corgis.” McCann says. “Through many interviews, I learned to really appreciate the deeply historical and personal significance that dogs hold in human lives today, one that they have held for thousands of years.”
Every episode focuses on five different dog breeds and gives details about the breed’s history, physical and behavioral characteristics, and a story of human connection that celebrates the relationships between people and their pups.
The 10-episode Dogs 101, is produced by Powderhouse Productions in Somerville, Mass. The show joins dozens of others produced for clients including The History Channel, National Geographic, PBS and The Discovery Channel.
McCann discovered the Powderhouse opportunity at Wesleyan’s Career Resource Center.
“I have found myself increasingly drawn to political journalism and alternative media, and Powderhouse stood out to me because of its unique emphasis on creativity in non-fiction storytelling,” McCann explains.
Initially, she hoped to find a role with the company’s more serious programs. But on her second day on the job, she was offered a position for Dogs 101, a show “everyone in the office was buzzing about.”
“I was really interested in Powderhouse’s programs on engineering and the Cold War, but the opportunity to work on Dogs sounded both hilarious and really rewarding, so I went for it,” McCann says.
McCann spent “countless hours” sniffing out stories and interviewing dog owners, puppy breeders, canine historians and dog toy designers. She assisted on set and on location for a few shoots, and coordinated the translation of ideas into images.
“Managing and facilitating the filming and editing of the each segment was labor intensive, but very inspiring,” she recalls. “On the one hand, I got to develop a skill set I will surely use in the future. On the other, I was privileged to work with a wonderfully creative group of individuals; the experience of taking a collective creative vision out of thin air and shaping it into a film canister as a team is one that I will not soon forget.”
Michael Sciola, director of the Career Resource Center, says McCann’s story is an example of how an internship can quickly turn into a standout experience for a student’s resume. Sciola advises students to visit the CRC early and often to look into internships, summer jobs, winter break jobs and full-time employment opportunities before graduating.
“Especially for liberal arts students, getting hands-on experience before graduating is a great way to tie intellectual pursuits to skills that make them highly sought after by employers,” Sciola says. “However, just showing up to work is not enough. Laurenellen is an example of where being smart and enthusiastic and willing to on challenges and projects, even as an intern, made her stand out.”
McCann, who grew up with dogs and recalls memorizing a dog encyclopedia in fifth grade in preparation for vet school, says the show not only educated her on journalism, but gave her a new perspective on curiosity.
“Working on this show completely blew my mind, and I get excited thinking about it, even if it is ‘just about dogs,'” she says.