Provided by Anthony Rinaldi of Endicott College
Tuesday, November 18, 2019, started off as just a typical day for women’s tennis student-athlete Emily Licciardi. She woke up, went to class, did some homework, and hung out with friends. Pretty normal stuff for a then college junior. Little did she know that it was going to be a day that totally changed the trajectory of her college experience and life.
It was around 4 o’clock on Tuesday and Emily was watching TV in her room when she got a notification on her phone. It was an email from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She opened the email and the first words she read were “Congratulations!” and that she had been selected for an internship with the Tonight Show.
She was ecstatic, and she couldn’t believe it since she was convinced the day prior that she was not selected for the internship.
“I had completed my final interview with the Tonight Show hiring team on a Wednesday, and they told me I would hear by that upcoming Monday if I got it,” she said. “So, for those who know me know I was an absolute nervous wreck that weekend. Checking my phone every three seconds, refreshing my Gmail application, and then Monday came, but no email. All of my roommates, friends, and family were texting and calling asking if I heard and I was so sad to say I hadn’t heard anything. I had felt like for the past four months this interview process was all I ever thought of, and it had all come down to this. The hours kept going by, and Monday came to an end with no email.”
Emily considers herself a very goal-oriented person, “I plan five years ahead of what I want to accomplish,” she said. So she knew coming into college that immediately after graduating she wanted to work in the entertainment industry in either New York City or Los Angeles.
Emily knew that study abroad was a highly encouraged experience for students at Endicott, but Emily decided to twist it in her own way and “study abroad” through a distance internship, and what a better opportunity than interning at the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in New York City.
Once Emily found out she got the internship, she moved to New York two weeks later since she was due to start the second week of December. Emily moved into Greenwich Village knowing absolutely nobody, a crazy risk for someone her age, but she was prepared to excel both living on her own and at the Tonight Show.
Through the Endicott internship model, Emily was required to do two previous internships before her semester-long internship at the Tonight Show.
During her freshman year, Emily interned with WHDH/CW56 in Boston, Mass. and spent her entire summer working in their creative department under the guidance of Tiffany Middleton.
“Tiffany believed in my hard work and desire to learn about the industry so greatly that she started to invite me to stay late after my shift to help on promo shoots and be her PA [production assistant]. This led me to talk to the anchors and get to ask questions during the breaks,” she said.
This drive also led Emily to other opportunities.
About five months after she finished the internship at WHDH/CW56, Emily got a call from Tiffany telling her that a job opened up and that she wanted her to interview for the role. Her hard work and dedication paid off as she landed the job at the same station just five months later.
“I worked the night shift in Boston, which, yes, was quite overwhelming especially while balancing class, tennis, and a full-time job, but boy was it worth it. It taught me how to think on my feet, act under pressure and stand up for my ideas,” she said.
“There is no better way to learn than in the speed of live television,” Emily said. “I can guarantee that without this experience I never would have managed the high pressure and pace that The Tonight Show is.”
There was no typical day for Emily at the Tonight Show.
Each day was a new show, a different experience that forced her to adapt to many challenges.
“I put myself out there from day one,” she said about the experience.
Everything was going well for Emily, she was having the time of her life, learning so much, and then COVID-19 hit and the course of her internship totally changed.
Emily’s role changed a lot once the pandemic hit. She worked remotely but was able to contribute to more staff members and work on a lot of additional cool and creative projects.
“This internship genuinely changed my life, cliché, I know but it truly did,” Emily said. “It taught me so much not only about the industry but also about myself and my own skills and work ethic,” she added.
When asked about advice to give to students looking to take a chance on a big internship Emily said, “Do it. I moved to New York City in less than two weeks after finding out I got the internship, knowing nobody there.”
She continued, “Trust yourself and believe that taking a big chance like this will pay off! It also is such a time of growth for you as a person because you get to experience what life is like to work and move to an entirely new location, It’s almost like a test for yourself, to see if you like the city and place you’re employed at.”
A test that Emily passed with flying “peacock” colors.
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