“If you work hard, and you’re nice to people, good things will happen to you”

Suzanna McKinney at Warner Brother Studion in Burbank, Calif. This is the motto that stood out to Suzanna McKinney during her internship with Conan O’Brien last summer. But this isn’t the story of a girl who has

always dreamed of traveling to California with a suitcase and $100 in her pocket; in fact, she never dreamed of being in the entertainment industy. Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Suzanna, now a junior at Wheaton College (Ill.), had never lived outside of her hometown. She grew up in the same home her entire life and even going to college in the “north” was a leap of faith.

But in the summer of 2012, she left for Pasadena, Calif., in the middle of May to work at Warner Bros., for the man with the iconic orange hair. An English lit major from a small liberal arts college, Suzanna developed a simple passion for the entertainment industry. Through a family connection, McKinney was able to land the internship and embark on her journey to Burbank, Calif. This was her first time living on the west coast and she chose to make her temporary home in Pasadena.

eli-manning-peyton-manningNo day was the same, but usually Suzanna was in charge of the talent that were coming in for the show that day as the talent and production intern. She would make sure they made it to the makeup on time, that they had the amount of water and room amenities requested and anything that they needed, Suzanna was there with their script. Some days, Suzanna would have the most quirky tasks imaginable like handling the office popcorn machine, an art that she had to learn because of of its finnecky features.

Joseph-Gordon-LevittWhen she wasn’t in the office however, she was contracted out to award shows to handle the talent there. Suzanna got to handle the likes of football icons Eli and Peyton Manning at the Espys, pop stars like Carly Rae Jepsen at the Teen Choice awards, Victoria Justice down the red carpet, and actors, such as every young

girl’s crush, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

This was the experience of her life and one she says she will never forget. But she also learned a number of lessons that will stick with her.

  • People are people no matter where they are. No matter if a person is a Hollywood star or a college student from Wheaton College.
  • People are craving human interaction and intimacy
  • Everyone wants to be loved
  • We share a lot more similarities than differences
  • “If you work hard, and you’re nice to people, good things will happen to you”

This summer, Suzanna will be heading to Ryman Auditorium to do a production internship and is ready to see where she goes after she leaves Wheaton.