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trying to get internship

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trying to get internship
on May 13, 2006 at 8:26:09 pm

I live around philadelphia and am looking to get an internship with motion graphics. I'm in my sophmore year of college and have a short demo reel (1:30ish) and a resume together.

I was wondering what people's advice was on just sending that to the studios in the area and asking for internships.

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Mark Suszko
Re: trying to get internship
on May 15, 2006 at 4:20:41 pm

In my day, the colleges all had special arrangements with the TV stations and ad agencies for internships. Have you tried the school's department head putting in a word for you? Or their vocational counseling department? If the internship is not for pay, it should at least be worth academic credit.

When I was in college, the ONLY interns the agencies and stations would take were from the colleges and university video/media programs; the school weeded out the weak and undisciplined, and sent you to your internship job with at least some rudimentary skills and knowledge, and then it was up to the student to get as much real-world education out of the experience as he or she could.

I tell this story a lot, so those who've heard it, forgive me.

I interned in Chicago, and our TV class had internship openings at the big O&O network flagship stations and also ad agencies like J.Walter Thompson.

I didn't get one of those, I got an internship out in the suburbs at a Continental Cablevision studio not far from home. Turned out to be the best possible choice.

Comes the end of the year, we're all gathered around to share out internship experiences. The other kids that had gone to work at the prestige places all had the same story. They were so proud they got to work with Bill Kurtis or Walter Jacobsen or whomever, and had a nice letter of recommendation and maybe even a scheduled interview somewhere for a job. But when the teacher asked about their portfolio or reels, the answers all boiled down to the same thing: due to union regs, they had never touched any gear all summer, hadn't shot anything, edited anything. They were experts at xeroxing, handling phones, making a damn fine cup of coffee. They had impressive contacts and no marktable skills. The ad agency interns were much the same story: they were always name dropping famous people they were working next to, but none of them ever actually did anything meaningful on any accounts. They were pure observers.

Comes my turn for show and tell. I was a line producer handling everything for the Wednesday edition of a daily PM Magazine type show on the cable outlet. I was finding, interviewing and shooting tape of my own guests, writing scripts and prompter copy, assistant directing and producing during the live tapings, editing segments, driving and working on the remote truck, shooting live sports and entertainment, all while performing reporting and on-camera stand-up segment presenter duties for other producers. I basically got to try or do every video job except touch the holy head-end dish controls. I had a reel with several hours worth of examples of my work. I had a list of gear I was qualified to operate as long as my arm. I knew how to improvise in the field and get the shot. I was a point-and-shoot missile, ready to launch at anything you needed done right and on time, and I was 21. It was a very good year:-)

I had no fancy reference letters. I could not name-drop companies or personalities. I still can't make a decent cup of coffee. But I have made a living making television of some sort for about 25 years now, got a wife and three kids, house, car, too many bills, not enough pay, a few minor local awards, but I have made what I consider a successful career out of this. And I feel a lot of it I owe to that no-status but very useful internship.

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John Cuevas
Re: trying to get internship
on May 17, 2006 at 4:59:22 pm

Go ahead and do it. That's exactly what I did when I started out, minus the actual reel. Just contacted every post-production house, told them of the nature of my interest and let them know I wanted to intern for them. Got a couple of offers, selected one and made a lucky choice.

Really was a big break, not only did the owner/editor and I get along, but I got more experience in a month then I did in 4 years of college.

Since then I have worked with many interns, last one after 6 months we hired into a full time position. Right now we are on day 8 of our newest one, see how she works out.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor

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