‘No path is the same’: CNN producer Eric Hall gives Elon University communications students advice

Marlena Chertock

FEB. 14

Eric Hall Producer of the 3-5 p.m. show on CNN speaks to communications students. Photo by Marlena Chertock.

Eric Hall, a 2005 alumnus of Elon University and producer at CNN in Atlanta, was ahead of many other classmates when he attended Elon. He had three internships by the time he was a junior.

While at Elon, Hall started working at The Pendulum as the Opinions Editor in his freshman year.

Hall said he considers himself lucky that he got into newspaper early on.

“No story is the same, no path is the same,” he said. “If all of you are going into communications each of your paths are going to be so different.”

Getting internships and making them worthwhile is an important part of the career and learning process.

Hall encouraged communications students to stay extra hours, shadow people in different departments and push themselves in their internships.

“Be aggressive,” he said. “Ask questions. Try different things. See what you like.”

Learning from other people’s work and attempting your own is essential, according to Hall. Doing extra work above your pay grade will show internship coordinators that you are attempting, that you are capable, he said. And more importantly, it will prove to yourself that you can do it, he said.

Internships aren’t always great, Hall said, referring to his internship with a minor league sports team where he had four days off the entire summer and worked 16 hour days.

Hall went after internships “Not necessarily because I wanted it on my resume, but I was hungry,” he said. “I was curious. I was worried. I wanted to see what the real world was like. I was really anxious and wanted to actually learn how it worked.”

Hall warned against feeling entitled in internships and first jobs.

People expect to be in the top jobs right away but that’s not how it happens, Hall said. A sense of entitlement is a big downside of this generation, he said.

“Just always be learning,” Hall said. “If you keep learning, it’ll happen, you’ll get there.”

Graphic by Marlena Chertock.

Hall compared working in TV news to an emergency room.

The TV news industry is open to new ideas. It’s not an industry set in its ways, according to Hall.

“At least in this industry, you have to think outside the box,” he said. “Which is a testament to Twitter. The game changes every day, you’ve got to be a part of the game, know the game and advance the game.”

Writing and being creative are two things that will carry you, he said. The news industry is about having good writing skills but also careful editing.

An e-mail can say so much about a person, according to Hall. If there are grammar or spelling error it speaks volumes.

“If I could do it over again I would probably still do communications but I would also minor in creative writing because I have an interest in that,” Hall said.

Hall never got a job through Monster or other similar sites. It has always been referring, timing, luck, opportunities and networking, he said.

“It’s a lot of talking, more than you’d think,” he said. “The message is always better face-to-face, through verbal means.”

In the newsroom, there is a lot of conversation going on about stories, focuses changing, things changing quickly, Hall said.

Hall got into news because he is a news junkie, he said. If he wasn’t in the news business he’d still be glued to the headlines, he said.

“It’s like a hobby,” Hall said. “I’m fortunate that for me it’s a job and a career. That’s what I love, a lot of people wouldn’t like it, but I love the chaos.”

***

Hall offers internship advice

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About Marlena Chertock

Marlena Chertock's first collection of poetry, On that one-way trip to Mars, is available from Bottlecap Press. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Marketplace, and WTOP. Her poems and fiction has appeared in The Deaf Poets Society, Moonsick Magazine, and Paper Darts.

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