Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Where Passion and Fulfillment Collide

My last day with Make-A-Wish Illinois was this week. As they said their farewells to my intern class in a conference room filled with photos of smiling kids, they told us how many wishes had been granted during our time and how much more we had helped prepare to make them come true. Then they asked us what was next. As the only intern who wasn’t about to graduate from college, I paused when the room looked to me. “Well, I have another year at Northwestern, and then I guess… nonprofits?” I shrugged, and we moved on.

As vague as this answer was, six months ago it would have been even less specific. I’ve been warily interested in nonprofit work for a long time. I love the idea of my career being tied to my personal passions and I know I want to feel that my work is making an impact. However, I was shy of the slow advancement and low pay that’s often mentioned in the same sentence as nonprofit work. Amid pre-med, pre-law, and consulting students I questioned if I was dedicated enough to spend my time on something that can be challenging and low-reward. After my five months at Make-A-Wish, I have found a firmly positive answer to that question.

Non-profit work, whether political, medical, or otherwise, gives you an opportunity to make your emotional passion into your job. It gives that sense of fulfillment that many people struggle with as they leave their organizations and hobbies behind as they move into post-grad life. I’m incredibly lucky to have been at Northwestern and I feel compelled to use what I’ve learned here to impact the world positively as so many people have done for me. This doesn’t have to mean working for a non-profit- it could be teaching, discovering new technologies, lobbying for political change, or any other way you can use your talents. But I do believe we have an obligation to take our Northwestern education and pass it on in whatever way we can. I still don’t have all my specifics laid out. Nonprofit work can mean fund-raising, legal work, event planning, marketing, PR, or anything else you enjoy doing.

I’m still searching for how I want to use my skills and what sort of work I want to do. I’m happy that I’ve found a passion for non-profit work and that I have at least that much direction. There will be other internships and opportunities where I can learn where my talents lie. Until then, I can just be happy that I’ve made any contribution possible to the amazing organizations I’ve been a part of.

Olivia Kuncio is a junior Communication Studies student who is interning at The Make-A-Wish Foundation this quarter.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Seven Days Left

Including today, I have seven full work days left at my internship with The Second City. The coolest thing to see is the growth of the company since I started on January 13th. Not only has the building grown, but new people have been hired and new policies were put into play. Projects that were just getting started when I arrived are now on their feet. For example, I had to write a bio on Broadway producer, Elizabeth Williams in February. I sat in on a call with her and two of the three Second City executives regarding investor events for the project.

The main project, and the project closest to my heart, is She the People: Girlfriend’s Guide to Sister’s Doin’ it for Themselves. This concept, previously referred to as “Funny Ladies”, was my first everything. My first written contract was for director Carly Heffernan, who I later met during my first table read and my first audition as videographer and reader with Beth Kligerman. The first time I was asked my creative opinion was during a meeting where we chose the official title. Brian told me he “trusted me to take care of it” for the first time when I created the personal invitations to the show that we will send out to frequent Second City fliers. Now, the art is being created for the show and tickets will go on sale later this afternoon! The pride I feel toward this project may seem a little silly for an intern, but I feel it nonetheless. During my January interview with Brian, I said that I thought the best part of producing is seeing an idea fully come to life and supporting it all the way past the finish line. She the People has definitely been my favorite part of my internship with The Second City and I absolutely can’t wait to come see it on its feet when I get home from my summer experience abroad.

Liz Coin is a sophomore Radio, Television, and Film student who is interning at The Second City this quarter.

 

Adventures of an EPICS intern: Flexibility Is Key

Flexibility.

It’s the thing I can’t seem to tap into at the yoga basics class on weekend mornings or in my daily routine. I’m someone who likes the regular- the same peanut butter-topped Eggo waffle for breakfast, the same route to class, a neatly laid out week in my planner and the next box checked off on my list. However, through my time with Make-A-Wish Illinois I’ve learned that sometimes you have to be willing to bend a little to get the most out of an experience.

I’m not embarrassed to admit (ok, a little, but this is Northwestern and Northwestern internship culture) that I was initially rejected from the internship I currently have. I applied to Make-A-Wish Illinois in October while abroad and was rejected not long after. Ok, fine. No winter internships panned out so I headed into winter quarter looking forward to my four day weekends and abundant free time. Then in January, I got an email saying the position had suddenly opened up again. Was I still interested in interviewing? In one week I went from an unemployed aimless junior to Communications intern. I changed my work study schedule and piled on extra hours wherever I could in my first foray into flexibility, bought some business casual jeans, and headed off to River North on the 8:12 a.m. Purple Line Express on a cloudy Friday morning.

Make-A-Wish is a fantastic organization to work for. It’s a non-profit with a long, respected history that anyone can get behind regardless of political or religious beliefs. Many people don’t realize that Make-A-Wish is not just for terminally ill children, but also for children with any life-threatening condition. This means the children we grant wishes too often grow up to live long, happy, and healthy lives and continue to give back to Make-A-Wish. My primary job is to interview families who have recently experienced a Wish and write their stories. That was my plan. It’s turned out to be much more. I’ve gotten to call families and tell them they will be receiving a wish and then ask for every detail of their lives over the phone. I’ve had to scan page after page of obituaries and faded Polaroids from the early days of the organization, dozens of children who died before I was born and often before they reached their teens. I’ve constructed event pages and written tweets and seen some very sick children made very happy.

Above all, it has required me to be flexible. It’s easy to sit down and engage in busy work until five p.m., but it’s a lot harder to get up and ask who in the office needs an extra set of hands when my supervisor is out. These conversations with families turn intimate and personal with almost no warning and the script I type up and study before every call is suddenly irrelevant. However, I’m glad that Make-A-Wish is the place where I get to do it. Non-profit work can often be frustrating it’s hard to see any immediate results of your actions. Despite knowing that my contribution to the organization is minuscule at best I am privileged to see tangible and positive events unfold every day. It might be another community fundraiser springing up (catch Wish Night in Evanston at Tech on May 14th!), opening a folder to see another beaming kid in a blue Make-A-Wish shirt in front of Walt Disney’s castle, or a box packed full of toys and games for children going through chemotherapy. Whatever it ends up being, I can be flexible.

Olivia Kuncio is a junior Communication Studies student who is interning at The Make-A-Wish Foundation this quarter.

Adventures of an EPICS intern: On to Phase Two!

I can’t believe how different it is now compared to how it was when I started here. I know so many people, I’m confident walking into a room and taking charge. Some days I stay late just because I want to, doing extra work or making people’s lives easier by clearing out a couple of tasks. I didn’t used to understand what it meant to make yourself “indispensable,” but I sure do now. I’m proud to say I am still the intern that the other interns look to for guidance or reassurance. I say “yes” and “no” confidently even when I’m not positive, and I’ve done projects for Brian that require more responsibility than some interns have been asked to give.

One of my first goals was “to fully understand how a Managing Producer at The Second City works with his team of producers to put up multiple live performances in the winter/spring comedy season and beyond.” This goal, I think, will take my career to “fully understand.” I get glimpses of how it all works, but I can also tell a lot more goes into it than I can see by just observing Brian. However, and this is top secret, The Second City has a Broadway show in the works. Brian has really been spearheading it and I’ve helped in small ways. For example, I got to do some research and bio-writing for the big-wig producer Elizabeth Williams who is attached to the Broadway project. Additionally, I’ve helped Brian create a database where he puts all of the new ideas being pitched to him for deliberation.

Throughout this experience I’ve made it a mission to foster strong relationships with my fellow interns and bosses in order to maintain these relationships moving forward professionally. This goal happens little by little, day by day. I would say the intern team and I have a pretty great relationship—we have fun and get work done. Every Wednesday we do “self-presentations” that help everyone get to know us better. Mine is in two weeks, so that is something I should start prepping. As for people around the office, I am working on building friendships. Everyone recognizes me pretty well, and some know me better than others. Just this week I got the chance to get to know our bigshot casting director, Beth Kligerman, because I helped her move offices and organize ALL of her files. She has been here for 24 years and has really, really cool decorative file folders. I admire her so much.

The more I see shows here the more I think I want to perform more than I want to produce. To do this, I plan on talking to more actors and definitely registering for classes. I hope to do the conservatory program my junior year. Approaching this halfway point, I stop to realize that I have learned how to say “yes, and” to everything, stay true to myself, and be a sponge. I’ve learned how to work public transit, how to create your own office attire flare, and how to ask for help in an intelligent way. Time for another quarter of fun!

Liz Coin is a sophomore Radio, Television, and Film student who is interning at The Second City this quarter.

Adventures of an EPICS intern: Hey, Why Not Me?

Today marks my one month of intern-hood at The Second City’s Producer’s Row. What a month! I went from feeling like the new girl who asked way too many questions, to being the veteran who answered everyone’s questions. I can tell you the best place to find dinner or a drink in Old Town and definitely recommend some shows for you to come see! Currently running, “#DateMe: An OKCupid Experiment.” I saw it last night with my friends and laughed SO hard. I also ate some phenomenal pretzel bites, shout out to my friends in the kitchen.

Being an intern is being a sponge. You absorb everything you hear, and slowly, you start to understand it all. Some of my favorite things I’ve absorbed are:

  1. Old traditions that actors keep backstage (no photos allowed!)
  2. The Second City’s plans and ideas for improving their directing program
  3. The nitty gritty rules of The Actor’s Equity Association and how to create appropriate contracts

I’ve definitely gotten more papercuts in the last month than in my entire life, but I don’t mind. Being told to organize files may feel like busy work, but my boss, Brian Loevner (Managing Producer) encourages me to read all of the files and see what they’re about! So, fellow Northwestern interns in an office somewhere, read everything you can get your hands on. You won’t have the same chance forever… plus I once found an old script from when Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch performed in the mainstage cast!

The office feels small, but every person is in charge of so much. From associate producers, to casting directors, to marketing, to the art department, Producer’s Row churns out a lot in a day. A sector I didn’t know much about, Diversity and Inclusion, is the part of The Second City I really want to touch on in my next blog, so check back, because it is all just so cool.

 

Liz Coin is a sophomore Radio, Television, and Film student who is interning at Second City this quarter.

Adventures of an EPICS intern: Learning to Say “Yes, And” in Producer’s Row

I sent in my application to The Second City’s Administrative Internship on October 4th, 2016 with the recommendation of a fellow NU Wildcat. I didn’t hear back until December 13th. I didn’t interview until December 18th. I didn’t get the job until January 8th. I started January 13th. Welcome to the world of live comedy where you hurry up and wait, where nothing is life-or-death until it is, and where everyone is the coolest person you’ve ever met.

Here are some pictures of the intern’s office where we all pile in. I cleaned it just for this picture! By all of us, I mean the four to five interns who are from the previous session (whose last days are January 31st) and yours truly. You might imagine it’s a little strange being the only new person, waiting for your new co-interns to arrive, but I’ve loved it. I know my way around the ever-changing office, I know the names of people who don’t know me yet, and I know how to work our various online systems quite well after having had five days of work.

Within my first five days, I have met with the managing producer, Brian Loevner, to whom I am assigned. I work with him on his projects he has in the works, I manage contracts and any kind of managerial paperwork needed done, and I help wherever assistance is needed within the building. For example, there are small inserts called “table toppers” that tell the audience who will be performing in the show that night. It’s my job to update, print, and place these for the correct theater for the show that night. None of this sounds too exciting, but that’s because the really exciting stuff is all TOP SECRET! Just kidding. Sort of. Some cool things I can tell you about are the shows I’ve seen so far. Yes, ma’am, I do get free tickets to see shows and get a free class just for being an intern! What?!?

I saw the mainstage show “The Winner…of our Discontent,” “Fast, Loud, Funny” at the UP Comedy stage, “Improv All-Stars” and tomorrow I’ll see “Godfrey,” a stand-up show. There are multiple theaters/stages of The Second City along with its training center and film school. The more I learn, the more I’ll post. But I’ll  sum up the last five days the best way any comedian can: “YES, and?”

 

Liz Coin is a sophomore Radio, Television, and Film student who is interning at Second City this quarter.

Adventures of a EPICS Intern: LimeGreen is a cross-cultural, marketing communications agency

I remember sitting on the 14th floor of the 150 N. Michigan Avenue Building the same way I remember my first day of my master’s study at Northwestern University: excited, anxious, and eager to know about those fresh knowledge and people. That’s actually what drew me to applying for an internship of marketing and communication; the opportunity to learn how to provide efficient communication strategies to clients from various industries and create suitable marketing plan to different target customers.

150 N. Michigan Avenue Building
150 N. Michigan Avenue Building

From the very first day with LimeGreen Moroch, everyone welcomed me as a member of the team and genuinely expected me to make a contribution. After the welcome lunch, I took my first step into the marketing field. The first project I participated in was a marketing campaign our team designed for United States Tennis Association, and it aimed to develop a communication plan and tactics for increasing Hispanic, Asian and African American attendance at the 2016 US Open. I hit the ground running, working on a data analysis assignment that illustrated the customer insights of the US Open and other sports. During the analytic process, I faced challenges of arranging and selecting the target data among the messy database. When I asked my supervisor for help, she suggested me to use SQL to deal with those data. Then I expanded upon my knowledge of  coding with SQL by watching YouTube tutorials and reading various textbooks. The experience helped me better understand how to use economics analysis as a tool to explore the big data created by vast amount of customers in order to better understand their unmet need and help brands to design marketing strategies to better serve its customers. Additionally, as the only Asian at LimeGreen Moroch, I participated in a focus group to provide some insights about how Asian people view different sports. It was a wonderful experience that people from different culture share their opinions and communicate with an open mind. It also gave me some reflections about how cultural difference can influence marketing strategies.
Yingwen Zen image 2

The second project I had the opportunity to participate in was our cooperation with Kia Motors. I played the part of making competitive analysis that refers to doing research about Kia’s competitors such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. At first, I just looked through their advertisements and found out that it had nothing new to dig up as we had the same customer insights with the competitors. Then my supervisor led me to think from other perspectives such as going through their social media sites, digging up the marketing campaigns they held. In this way, we did find lots of useful information and it made me have a new understanding of today’s digital markets.

Besides these projects, I also took the responsibility of answering the phone and accounting. As a shy person, this seemingly easy assignment was hard for me at the beginning. Especially because I am not a native speaker. I so appreciate that my colleagues never lost their patience with me and helped me rehearse again and again. And after practicing so many times, now I am quite confident to communicate with our clients.

But the work—meaningful as it was—was only one part of what made my experience so special. Everyone I met, from my project team to internship training program, helped me grow, both as an employee and a person. My supervisors talked with me about my ambitions, hopes, and struggles regularly, not because they felt obligated, but because they truly cared. Their dedication to their jobs and their fellow employees is something I will never forget.

Yingwen Zen image 1

Overall, it’s been amazing to be a part of this marketing agency, and I look forward to the remaining week. I am excited about the contribution I have made so far, and I am thrilled that I am able to share details of my wonderful experience.

Until then just one piece of advice, especially for international students: Step out of your comfort zone, and don’t hesitate to look for something new for your summer internship. It is an efficient way to know about different cultures and build your professional network in a foreign country. This will expand your learning horizons, make you discover something new that you like, and will be absolutely worth it.

Yingwen Zeng is a MS in Communication student who is interning at LimeGreen Moroch over the summer.

Adventures of a EPICS Intern: Resounding Impact

For our last week at the company, my supervisors at Creative Artists Agency, the organizers of the internship program, asked the interns to prepare a presentation with a simple goal: tell us what you did this summer. It’s a concise request, and nonetheless an involved one—what did I do this summer?

LiamFeroliCAAPhoto-(web)
Ice cream scooping with our team!

I learned my first day that no task is too small. I’ve been employed in a plethora of unpaid positions. No-pay/college credit jobs can teach invaluable skills with a well facilitated program, but they also have controversial reputations entrenched in the ethical questions surrounding unpaid labor. If you ask some people about their summer internship experiences, they will say they had a summer full of doing “X” tasks which were, in fact, too small. I, too, had some small tasks. I also had one of the best employment experiences, one which will set the tone and trajectory for my career. CAA treated me like a competent individual, acknowledging my desire to learn, giving me the resources to explore, and instilling in me an attitude which will benefit all work experiences to come.

The difference between my experience—one which was fulfilling, enlightening, inspiring—and hundreds of other internships that do not leave their short-term employees with the same positive sentiment (aside from pay), I believe, is the mental outlook we’re encouraged to have from day one. CAA lives a culture of teamwork, accountability, and the belief that small actions can have resounding impact. I’ve learned that it’s not about the size of the task, as much as it is the attitude you have approaching it. Whether it’s running an errand, toiling on a complex grid, or sharing opinions on art with a supervisor, what you do and say can affect the days and thoughts of other people, contributing to the whole. A company is a community, and for a community to thrive, the individuals must work together. From the arguably menial tasks, to tasks that involved dedicated critical thinking, each intern increased the efficiency of the company in their own way. We felt important because we were given the agency to make ourselves essential.

If I can describe the final presentations in one word, I’d say impactful. The interns shared the tangible effects their work had on the company’s business, ranging from organized file systems to amalgamations of potential new clients which would increase the visibility of multicultural people in the entertainment industry. Beyond witnessing the clear impact from our work, I saw a group of twenty-somethings with fires in their bellies to do more, because we were treated like we could do more. We gained a sense of community, one where we saw how small projects factored into large results.

What did I do this summer? Superficially, I can tell you I worked. I worked with my peers, ambitious and intelligent interns trying to leave a footprint; I worked for hard-working assistants just a few years out of college, people who encouraged me to be curious just as they were in their first post-grad agency experience; and, I worked for agents, tireless advocates for some of the world’s greatest entertainment talents. To go further, I can tell you I worked on myself. I’m more appreciative, I’m more than willing to work harder, and I’m excited for my future. This summer, I learned that being the best means being surrounded by the best, challenging your expectations, and giving energy to something bigger.

This summer, I worked on projects and myself. It would not have been possible without the people from day one, those mentors who encouraged me to think big. When you’re thinking big, no task is too small.

Liam Feroli is a s a rising junior Radio, Television, and Film student who is interning at Creative Artists Agency over the summer.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: To The Future…

This summer, I came to Los Angeles with an internship at Red Hour Films. It was a great internship with great people. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and most of all had a great time. Shortly after I got to LA, I secured a second internship at David Zucker Entertainment as support to a writer’s room, equally rewarding in ways that differed from Red Hour. A few weeks ago, I came to a fork in the road: continue with how I was going or make a slight change.

I learned something really valuable from this decision. I had to choose between working both of my internships for the rest of the summer or go five days a week at one and leave the other. It was a tough decision, because I was benefiting from both of them. And I wasn’t sure what to do. The other option was to work five days in the writer’s room, which sounds like a dream for a writer like me. But I was still conflicted. On one hand, I made a commitment to work at both internships for the entirety of the summer. On the other hand, I had learned something from that internship: it’s important to know when it’s time to move on.

AdamHughesimage001I’m not saying leaving an internship is for everyone. But in that moment, I knew I had to figure out what was going to be best for me. Five days as support to a writer’s room, to see how things start, how they grow, and how they end up. To work with a team of writers, editors, and producers. It seemed like a no brainer. But still, I felt an obligation to my first internship. That’s the funny thing about feelings. Sometimes they keep you from seeing clearly.

I’ve learned that this industry is full of these moments. Sure, right now, it’s just an internship. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is. I came out here to start a solid foundation for a future after graduation. But you can’t move forward if you’re not willing to be honest with yourself. In that moment, I had to put myself on a path. So I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and made my choice.

Though I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had at my first internship, I know it’s not often that good opportunities throw themselves at you. The lesson I learned this summer is not to let things pass you by. Sometimes, you just have to step off the cliff and see where the fall takes you. Especially if you know, deep down, that you’re doing what’s best for you and your future. It’s about your attitude and how you get along with everyone else. Moving forward is the only way to move, so I hope that when others find themselves with decisions like this, they spend time working on the clarity of the situation. You don’t want life to pass you up.

Adam Tyler Hughes is a MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage student who is interning at Red Hour Films and David Zucker Entertainment over the summer.

Adventures of a EPICS Intern: Artist Talk

This summer, I interned at BlackStar Film Festival.  BlackStar is an annual film festival that celebrates the work of the African diaspora and “global indigenous communities, showcasing films by black people from around the world.”  Many films this year also reflect voices beyond the African Diaspora including Native American voices of the Americas, Palestine, and middle eastern.  At this film festival, which has just concluded it’s 5th year, filmmakers participate in panel discussions, enriching workshops and networking opportunities that are birthed out of “family reunion” types of activities.  Some of the most notable voices of the African Diaspora and global indigenous communities are present and they interact freely with the younger generation of filmmakers.  The festival’s tagline is “by indie means necessary,” a logo possibly coined after Malcolm X’s famous charge in support of black liberation “by any means necessary.” It’s logo, the Black Star in reference to Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line, an incorporated shipping line that became symbolic vehicle for black physical and economic empowerment and liberation.

My BlackStar Film festival internship duties ranged between primary duties of interviewing and filming some of the distinguished filmmakers involved in this year’s festival and secondarily creating and presenting an informative talk about my filmmaking process for other filmmakers during the filmmaking symposium.  I performed research for both of my tasks.  In order to prepare myself for the interviews, I familiarized myself with the body of work each filmmaker.  I interviewed a number of up and coming artists as well as some veterans including: Julie Dash, Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams, and Raafi Rivero.

The “ artist talk” was probably one of the most challenging aspects of my experience.  This involved creating a multi-media presentation on my process as an artist.  Myself and three other filmmakers conducted talks curated by the festival in the form of a filmmaker’s symposium and Q&A.  We delved into our filmmaking processes, philosophies, and influences before an audience of our peers.  During my talk, I looked up and noticed that one of my filmmaking heroes happened to be in the audience at the time.

I’d encourage any filmmaker to attend this festival whether part of the African Diasporic and indigenous communities or not.  The festival is founded by the visionary Maori Karmael Holmes, and curated and executed by an incredible multi-racial staff that is passionate about programing and displaying the best works of these communities. The voices of the marginalized are often the most rich and potent and the fresh perspectives offered can enrich any filmmaker.

Iyabo Kwayana is a MFA in Documentary Media student who is interning at BlackStar Film Festival over the summer.