The hours are long and unpredictable, but Maureen Kuhl (THE ’15) can’t stop smiling. After all, she made it through an arduous and competitive application process to score one of the most coveted media positions for recent graduates: serving as a Page for NBCUniversal. Iconic 30 Rockefeller Plaza is now Kuhl’s home base as she assists on shows like “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “TODAY.” Read on to learn about Kuhl’s busy schedule, her favorite surprise guest and the number one way DePaul prepared her for this job.
Why did you want to be an NBCUniversal Page, and what did the application process entail?
As graduation approached, I was thinking of what I could do in terms of dipping my toes into the television world, ideally in a nurturing environment. The NBCUniversal Page program is very well known, so I knew it was a long shot. But I decided to go for it anyway. What did I have to lose? The application process is fairly extensive—a few essays, then I had a virtual interview and finally they brought me to New York City for the panel interview. That was a three-hour interview with several NBCUniversal staff and half a dozen other candidates. There’s a group interview and an individual interview, and at the end, you have to give a two-minute presentation.
You’ve been in the program for about six months now. Tell us about the experience so far.
Right, so it’s a 12-month program, and it’s divided into four different assignments. For the first three months, I worked with the general public in various roles. I did audience services for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “Maya & Marty,” which meant that I helped check people in and escort them to their seats. It was really wonderful because I love interacting with people. That’s why I also absolutely loved leading The Tour at NBC Studios. The tour gives the general public a chance to go behind the scenes and see two of the studios. 30 Rockefeller Plaza has such an amazing history, so everyone is always really excited.
In between the tours and working audience services, I also worked in NBC News Marketing. Over the summer, I was working a lot with the Democratic and Republican national conventions, as well as with the Olympics. It was a completely different experience than working on the shows, but that’s sort of the spirit of the program. They want you to try all these different roles so you can narrow in on what’s most interesting to you.
Now you’re working on “Saturday Night Live” for your content/production assignment. What has that experience been like? What are your responsibilities?
It’s absolutely amazing. Along with two other Pages, I sit right outside the studio at the Page desk, which is sort of the hub for everything for the show. Technically, we work with the talent department, but we help out anybody who might need something during the show—producers, crew members, etc. For example, if someone needs to know where we are in the schedule or where a certain cast member is, we provide that information.
What kind of hours do you keep?
It depends on the assignment, but it ranges wildly. When I was a Plaza ambassador for the “TODAY” show, I was waking up at 4 a.m. to get there by 5 a.m. My job was to welcome the general public and let them know what topics would be on the show that day. It was nuts to be up so early, but it was a phenomenal experience to interact with all those people. Now that I’m working on SNL, it’s not uncommon to work 12-15 hours each on Thursday and Friday. Then on Saturday, I’m in at 9 a.m. and don’t leave until the wee hours of the morning. So yes, the hours are definitely long, but it’s worth it!
What has been the most surprising aspect of the program?
I didn’t think I would love the NBC News Marketing assignment as much as I did. I really enjoyed it. Also, you always hear that it’s so hard to break into this business, so I was surprised to find out how supportive everyone is. Nobody has their nose in the air. When staff members see a Page in uniform, they want to help. They want to answer questions and get coffee with you, and it shouldn’t be surprising, but it really was. Everyone has been so nice and welcoming.
You were a theatre arts major at DePaul. Did your undergraduate training prepare you in any way for your diverse responsibilities as a Page?
One hundred percent. This might sound cheesy, but we were always taught at The Theatre School that it’s all about storytelling. So whether I’m giving a tour or making a news promo or just helping somebody out on SNL, I always think about that. If you can make people feel like they’re part of something—I think that’s invaluable. When people are touring the studio for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and you can connect them to years and years of history, it’s just amazing to see their faces and know that they feel something. I learned how to do that in The Theatre School. It all comes back to storytelling.
What are a few other highlights of your experience so far?
One of my favorite moments was working “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” the day that President Obama went on the show. That was absolutely phenomenal. The audience didn’t know that he was going to be there, so they were all so shocked.
Working in NBC News Marketing was also fantastic. Who doesn’t love the Olympics? It was so cool to be watching TV and then all of a sudden see a promo for the “TODAY” show that featured a shot that I found.
I’m sure you can tell by now that I absolutely love this job, and I definitely feel like my experience at DePaul and in Chicago has prepared me for this experience. Actually, Alex Moffat, one of the new cast members on SNL, has performed in comedy shows all over Chicago, so we bonded over that, which was very cool.
Lastly, I am just so lucky to be spending the year with this group of people. They are amazing young professionals and have become some of my best friends, even though I moved here not really knowing anybody. We’re all very energetic and so excited to be here. It’s been an incredible experience.