Gemma DiCasimirro ’12: From ‘Seventeen’ to NBC

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 15, 2012

By Amanda Card ’12

It was only her senior year of high school when Gemma DiCasimirro ’12 applied and was accepted to be a Seventeen Magazine Reader Reporter, the first of many steps toward a promising future in media and communications.

Once focused on pursuing a career in magazines, DiCasimirro thought the editorial opportunity would be valuable for post-grad interviews. She didn’t realize that her early exposure to professional and creative writing would flourish into a career as a journalist—especially one with NBC Philadelphia, serving one of the largest markets in the nation.

After a year-long internship with the Philadelphia team, DiCasimirro had fallen in love with big city news production.

“Everybody there is so good at what they do. It’s nice to be part of that intel,” says DiCasimirro.

The NBC staff was guiding and encouraging. Unlike the typical intern filling regular coffee orders for mentors, DiCasimirro was part of the team, a colleague to some of the best in the business.

DiCasimirro explains, “When I would write stories, someone would pull me in and say ‘shorten this a little here’ or ‘say this instead.’ It was amazing that not only were they allowing me to complete these tasks, but that they were taking the time to help me be better at them.

During her first day at NBC, DiCasimirro already had web assignments—something she wasn’t expecting. Happy to step up to the plate, she kicked off her journalism career in perfect accord with NBC’s bustling newsroom.

“I remember having my first assignment published on the first day and thinking how crazy that was,” says DiCasimirro.

Crazy because college interns seldom have that media exposure?

“Because it was day one and my name was already a byline. I guess going in, I really never thought I’d be writing my own articles,” explains DiCasimirro.

The tasks wouldn’t stop there. As the newsroom Web Intern, DiCasimirro wrote articles daily, updated photo galleries, cut and uploaded videos and went out with reporters on stories.

Fifty published articles later, with investigative experience and a handful of reporter shadows, whispers of a job offer would open the doors for DiCasimirro’s future.

NBC invited her back for a second internship in the spring semester. DiCasimirro would mentor new interns and take on more shadowing roles.

“I went with a reporter to cover when Chris Christie announced he wasn’t going to run for president. Outside the conference room this journalist kept messing around with the guards because they wouldn’t let him in. He was talking with me and was making jokes about the guards…I soon realized he was Wyatt Cenac from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

On another shadow experience, DiCasimirro met Amanda Knox’s attorney.

“I remember thinking, this job is awesome. You get to talk with some of the most amazing people.”

DiCasimirro has also met and photographed with iconic Tom Brokaw during his recent studio visit.

“That was an incredible experience. It was an honor to spend those few minutes with him— Brokaw is such a legendary journalist.”

Exciting as it was to meet celebrities DiCasimirro says her favorite moment was seeing a story she pitched get filmed and air on television. “I remember thinking there’s no way they’ll actually want to do this, and the next thing I know, I’m working with a reporter and camera man, setting up interviews and driving to shoots.”

Her fellow interns hailed from city universities, namely Drexel, Temple and Penn. “It was great working around students from other universities,” says DiCasimirro.

“I never felt disadvantaged, even though the other students came from big name schools all mostly with broadcast backgrounds. I was learning quickly and gaining valuable insight from working one-on-one with reporters and the news team.”

Perhaps it was her individualized major that prepared her to do the job. “I knew when I started at Arcadia that I was going to be writing or working in the news. So, I worked with Lisa Holderman to develop a major that would fit my career goals.”

Studying media and communications with a public relations and marketing concentration gave DiCasimirro the education and experience she needed to settle into her position with NBC.

“We don’t have broadcast journalism at Arcadia, but that’s okay—the education here, the writing, the focus on media definitely prepared me.

“I am excited to continue learning in this field that I’ve always been so passionate about… and even more excited that it’s with such an amazing company like NBC Philadelphia.”

DiCasimirro was hired by NBC as a Production Assistant on April 16, more than a month before Commencement.