Well, the time has come. My last blog post. I really cannot believe that my time in LA has already finished. My internships were truly remarkable experiences. I learned incredible amount about the industry, living in LA, how to be an adult(ish), and how I want to shape my career after graduation. I discovered that the value of an internship is twofold; learning what kind of career interests you, and what kind of career disinterests you. It’s much easier to realize that you hate sitting at a desk for 14 hours when your livelihood and career doesn’t yet depend on you keeping that office job which makes you miserable. I discovered that I much rather prefer to work in film development than in casting or management. Granted, I did go into the internships with a strong idea of what I want to pursue (screenwriting), but it was comforting to have that aspiration fortified by hands-on experience.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my time in LA was anything but straightforward. One of production companies I was originally interning at dissolved at the end of Winter Quarter, and I had to find a replacement position. In many ways this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it led me to Vertigo Entertainment (Lego Movie, The Departed). Working at Vertigo allowed me to diversify my work experience and see aspects of the industry I would not have been exposed to otherwise. At Vertigo I was able to continue doing script coverage, while also covering as an assistant for executives, and tracking trending e-books and video games. I was also able witness the ongoing development of films in the pre-production stage that will one day be seen on screens across the world. A very cool experience indeed.
Throughout my time in LA, I’ve been compiling a mental list of intern suggestions. First on the list: GO GET AN INTERNSHIP!! Seriously though, classes are extremely important for your career, but internships are invaluable. It will basically be impossible to find employment in the entertainment industry (or any industry, for that matter) without having previous experience in the field. You’ll also meet people who will most likely be incredibly helpful when you are searching for jobs down the road; I have a handful of people I will feel comfortable reaching out to when I begin my job search. It sucks to do unpaid internships (many, if not most, in Hollywood are unpaid) but I guarantee it will pay off when it leads to steady employment later on. And if you don’t have the means to make it through a few months of fiscal drought, apply for internship grants that Northwestern offers. I guarantee it’s a better move than nabbing a summer job at a retail store, even if that job pays better.
If I could go back in time and change something, I would have tried to get my internships for the Fall Quarter. Let me explain. Most internship programs have Fall/Spring Semester and Summer Break internship sessions. However the Fall Semester is the only one that lines up with our whacky quarter system (same reason people usually go abroad in Fall). I technically had to take a leave of absence for the Spring Quarter this year because of the dates of my internship. Similarly, many Summer internships begin at the tail end of Spring Quarter. I know it sucks to miss tailgate season, but it might be worth it.
Lastly, get to know your employers. It is very easy to sit in the back of the room, keep your head glued to your computer, and get by with minimal interaction with your superiors. Don’t be like that. This was actually something I personally found very difficult. You won’t be fired for saying good morning or for introducing yourself to someone in the break room. Worst that can happen is someone awkwardly tells you not to talk to that person again, best (and most likely) thing that will happen is that you’ll form the basis of a networkable connection. You never know what one conversation will lead to. Speaking with people who have found success in various areas of the industry, one common thing I kept on hearing was that oftentimes the most unexpected encounters are also the most fortuitous. In other words, opportunities can come from anyone, so make sure you open yourself up to the possibilities.
It’s weird for me to think back to my first couple meetings at the EPICS office, when I had no marketable experience and no clue how to get ready for a post-grad career. Comparing my resume from November with my current one seems like the before/after photos from an episode of Extreme Makeover: Resume Edition (New show idea?). Whatever the future has in store for me, I know I can approach it with a professional confidence that I wouldn’t have had before.
So that’s all for me! I’ve really enjoyed writing these blogs, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them (despite my grammatical errors). Enjoy your summer!
Daniel Goldberg is a senior Radio/Television/Film major who is interning at Vertigo Entertainment & Avalon Management during spring quarter. Follow him throughout the quarter to get the scoop on his internship experiences and life in LA!