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: 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 an EPICS Intern: Relating to Co-Workers

As I have spent more time at the office, I feel like I am getting closer to my co-workers and superiors. Where as weeks ago I felt like another body moving in the office, I’m starting to notice quirks and personality traits in the people working around me. In the same vein, I think people are starting to notice things about me—like I’m the “hat” guy in the office. We discussed some award predictions regarding the Oscar’s this Wednesday. It got a little heated—people were calling each other stupid, deprecating jokes casually being thrown around the office. The other intern, Nick, and I joined in on the fun, stating our own opinions while also occasionally defending our own with a clever retort.

We then started to get into deeper opinions: examining how race and gender plays a role in these decisions. It was incredibly enlightening, not just to hear other opinions, but to also get a different side from my co-workers than usual. It felt like I could relate to agents—not that I thought they were robots—but, we had never really connected on a personal level other than a series of morning hellos and afternoon goodbyes. I just think it’s interesting to get to know people beyond their cubicles, having things to talk about other than what phone calls need to be made to which talent.

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I graduate in two years and that leaves quite a bit of time to add, delete, and revise my future plans. Yet, I would not be in this position without the guidance I received at Lily’s Talent Agency. I plan to thank each agent with a takeout box. Lily once told a story about her managing her children when they first entered modeling. She would leave casting directors a takeout box full of fortune cookies and a note after an audition or casting, thanking the directors for their time. I do not know if my takeout box will include fortune cookies, but it will include something that reflects my gratitude for allowing me the opportunity to experience a real, talent agency experience.

Liam Feroli is a Sophomore in the School of Communication Majoring in Radio/Television/Film.

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Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Moments of Tranquility

Lily's LogoFor an office with 2000 clients being represented, Lily’s Talent doesn’t feel like it. There are moments when the office is wild: people trying to make appointments, phone ringing off the hook, and instant messages bombarding my computer screen as each of the agents designates a task they need me to do to make their day easier. However, there are also slow moments. The phone won’t ring for ten minutes, the talent does not act like savage animals, and the agents live in a stage of carefree bliss.

It is these moments of tranquility that I appreciate most in the office. They give me time to ask my bosses questions, meet the other interns, or simply take a couple of minutes to use the bathroom. At Northwestern, life is hectic. Yet, I find myself with so much more time to myself—periods of reflection where I can think about my day. I haven’t found many of those pearls in the nine to five grind, but I know they exist. Right now, the biggest challenge is balancing my sanity with working. Bathroom breaks help.

I wonder what life will be like when I don’t have time to myself. That sounds like a very peculiar existence, when at a certain time every weekday, I transition from the person I am at work to the person I am at home. My journals serve a great purpose here: I can compare the version of myself at work to the version of myself at home. The astute hard-worker versus the one that sleeps for fourteen hours if you give him the chance—it’s amazing how real work brings out a different side of you.

Liam Feroli is a Sophomore in the School of Communication Majoring in Radio/Television/Film.

Did you find this blog helpful in your research of this company? Let us know on social media by using #EPICSoC for your chance to win great prizes!

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Overcoming First Day Nerves!

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When I arrived at Lily’s Talent Agency after the hour and fifteen-minute CTA ride, I could not help but feel shivers. A combination of Chicago’s frigid weather and the fresh nest of butterflies flapping in my stomach unsettled me. I have performed some administrative work, and I’ve most certainly had a job. Yet, I’ve never worked at a talent agency. As someone who wants to later work in the entertainment industry, I blew the potential ramifications of doing a poor job out of proportion. Self-defeating questions popped up one by one in my mind as the elevator ascended slowly to the destination, room 4F. What if I don’t like the job, the people, or simply just am not good at the work? I want to be an agent, but if I perform poorly, what does that say about my future?

My first day on the job was supposed to be a training day. In essence, learn the ins and outs of the office: how to put someone on hold, scan and edit headshots and comp cards, where to find the Windex to wipe down the tables at the end of the day. It’s not booking clients, but everyone starts somewhere, and I’m grateful for it. At first, I watched everything happen, absorbing information as the day went along. When the only other intern received the task of alerting over eighty clients about an audition, I was left to answer the phones, alert the agents about client calls, and handle any other extraneous work. From 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, I did just that. And it was easy. I picked up everything quickly—or, more quickly than I thought I would.

When I think about the nerves I let fester that day, I can’t help but chuckle at my own silliness. I expected a fast-paced, cutthroat environment where even a second of daydreaming could get you fired. While the work is quick and perpetually present, and my bosses are very serious about their work, it is anything but aggressive. In fact, my superiors demonstrate supreme concern for my internship experience and education, constantly encouraging me to ask questions and challenge myself. I find myself forging connections with the interns and employees around me. In a way, it doesn’t feel like I’m an intern.

While I’ve learned a great amount, I hope to keep learning more. In fact, my boss plans to put me under one of the senior agents, so I can supervise and assist her. I am taking my job just as seriously as I did when I stepped off that elevator. Yet, I now look at the experience with significantly more optimism, and a little more faith in my own abilities. I’m excited for all of the tidbits of knowledge that will fall in my lap in the days to come. Until then, it’s more mornings of arctic CTA rides, improving my typing speed, and grabbing the phones by the horns.

 

Liam Feroli is a Sophomore in the School of Communication Majoring in Radio/Television/Film.

Student Spotlight: My Internship with Optimus Inc.

NEW_Optimus_LogoThis quarter i am interning with Optimus Inc. through the SoC Internship Program. EPICS has been fantastic in working with me for this opportunity.  To begin, the program has been incredibly flexible with my work life considering I am a student-athlete.  I am able to take a 2 credit internship with 2 classes, and have successfully balanced this along with playing on the Northwestern Baseball team.

Optimus Inc. has been great.  The first half of my day deals mostly with client services. I work alongside 4 or 5 other interns, working hard to make sure our employees and clients are happy and have everything they need.  The second half of my day is when I am able to reach out and shadow our employees, and get some hands on experience.  I have met incredible, hard-working people at Optimus Inc., and have made connections I may have the rest of my life.

For those interested in an internship for credit, I would highly recommend it.  The work experience and people you meet will definitely help you when you finally enter the work world.

Walker Moses is a Junior in the School of Communication majoring in Radio, TV, and Film.  He is currently interning at Optimus Inc.

Life After NU: The End of the Beginning

I’ve been out in perpetually sunny LA for nine weeks now. The time has certainly flown by! Now that I’ve passed the two-month mark—I think I got an A+ for this quarter (oh wait, I’ve graduated, no more grades!)—I can stop counting. Because I’m here to stay. And I haven’t taken a math course in five years, so I’m a little rusty…

In the past month since my last post, nothing has radically changed. Work is consistently great, the sun is dependably out (except when it reluctantly retreats for nighttime), and the ground hasn’t shifted yet (i.e., I still haven’t experienced my first earthquake). Everything has continued to settle down as I’ve settled in. And that’s a good thing. Although there will always be more things to see and do, and my list is still growing, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable in this new city that I can now call home.

My job as a Post PA at Abominable Pictures has continued to be fantastic! Several episodes of Childrens Hospital are approaching picture lock, and multiple other shows are in the delivery pipeline. For the approaching second season of Newsreaders, I’ve been able to sit in on, and take rapid-fire notes for, a few ADR and voiceover sessions. It was a great learning opportunity to see how a professional sound mixer works (with an impressive setup) and listen to the executive producer’s detailed feedback. Plus, I got to meet some big-name actors!

Hanging with my cousin at the beautiful Getty Villa.
Hanging with my cousin at the beautiful Getty Villa.

In addition to my main PA work, I’ve been given new tasks that have utilized my tech skills. I’m still hard at work on that poster, though I’m afraid I’m slowly killing my computer with the humongous file size…I’ve also been using Photoshop to make DVD cases. I’ve enjoyed having the creative freedom to come up with my own ideas while also receiving notes to refine each image. It’s important to be able to collaborate to create a final product, and it almost always turns out better for it!

Even more exciting, I’ve had a lead role in researching and making proposals for a complete post production upgrade. We do all of our editing in-house, which means we have to keep on top of the current technology. It’s been my job to decide which computers and peripherals to purchase, how to upgrade Avid, and to help orchestrate the whole operation. Between this and the multiple shows we’re juggling, work has continued to be perfectly busy. So busy, in fact, that I’ll be staying on at Abominable! I couldn’t be more enthusiastic to continue working at such a phenomenal company!

In my first post, I made some initial observations after just a few days here, so to conclude this blogging series, here are some additional stray observations made over the past two months:

Valet parking companies, not the films studios, run the city.

There are countless donut shops here. Not the fancy artisan donut shops that have invaded Chicago, but shops that are neighborhood institutions. Interestingly, there are several that also serve Chinese food. Whatever floats people’s taste buds!

Ikea is a frightening place.

Lots of movie theaters have assigned seating. I can’t decide what I think about this practice. You have to plan in advance to reserve prime middle seats, but this method means you don’t have to show up to the theater inhumanely early. LA certainly is a city that revolves around movies.

Everywhere is “far.” In this sentence, “far” means twenty minutes away.

After two months of real world experience, I surely must have some overarching bit of wisdom to impart on those still in college, right? I’ve racked my brain for the best thing you can do to prepare for a long-hour job in the entertainment industry, and I’ve settled on one final piece of advice: Eat Your Vegetables.

Robbie Stern is a recent graduate of the School of Communication and majored in RTVF. He now works for Abominable Pictures.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: A Place for Collaboration

Prologue Logo I have had a great summer working with Prologue!  In my most recent blog post I discussed the process of general auditions, which I had a blast working on.  This month I was able to help out with another set of auditions.  These were for but I cd only whisper, a play in Prologue’s main stage season by Chicago playwright Kristiana Colón.  Like at season generals, these auditions took place at Chicago Dramatists.  I checked actors in for their audition slots and helped to run auditions outside of the room, but was still able to watch some of the auditions.

I have loved helping Prologue with casting because I have discovered so much about auditioning that I would not learn from a class or even from doing an audition myself.  In addition to assisting with auditions for whisper, I have been doing research on grants and rehearsal/performance spaces for Prologue.  Chicago Spaces is a great resource.  The site allows Chicago rehearsal and performance venues to post information about their space rental.  Using information from Chicago Spaces and from various theatre website I made a spreadsheet of different rehearsal and performance venues that fit Prologue’s needs.  Resources for Chicago theatre artists spread far and wide across the city.  Through this internship I’ve seen time and time again examples of how Chicago is truly a collaborative and supportive community for growing artists.

Sophie Neff is a rising junior Theatre major interning at Prologue Theatre Company in Chicago, IL.

 

 

Life After NU: A Month of Changes

The days of ten years at a company have passed, I’ve been told by multiple people over the past month. Things change rapidly in the working world, especially if you’re in the tech industry. Although change can be stressful it also opens up opportunities to demonstrate what a valuable asset you are to a business, and explore skills you may not have even known you had.

The Duo Marketing Team, despite all of the changes, I still feel like I have a lot to learn here.
The Duo Marketing Team, despite all of the changes, I still feel like I have a lot to learn at Duo.

It’s been a month of changes here at Duo. We’ve seen a new Outbound Salesman join the team, as well as a new UX intern, and we’re looking forward to a few new faces in different areas of the company. We’ve also seen a Business Developer, Project Manager and, my supervisor, our Marketing Manager Ariel leave. With several years at Duo and even more in the marketing industry she is one to new challenges at a larger company, unlike anywhere she’s worked before.

What has all of this meant for me? What was supposed to be my twelve-week training plan was shortened to six. I’ve spent the last two weeks finalizing a marketing strategy for one of our clients, laying the groundwork for a Marketing summit that we plan on hosting in the winter or spring, and preparing myself to take on all new responsibility.  As of August 18th I’m responsible for all things marketing (two clients and all inhouse marketing) at Duo.

All in all there have been some stressful moments. I’ve taught myself several of our media management and web analytics softwares. I’ve had make calls asking for help when I’ve been in over my head. But I’ve also become much more resourceful and confident in what I do and how I do it. That’s the benefit of doing things on your own, of learning as you go, you develop a holistic understanding of your job, rather than the easily digestible bits and pieces someone feeds you.

It’s hard to go from training, with someone constantly reading over your shoulder, or holding your hand through the whole process, to making decision for yourself about a company, with little guidance except your own intuition. But more than anything else I’m excited for a new, unexpected challenge. I’m looking forward to making my mark on this company, to making decisions with an appreciable impact, and seeing what other opportunities open up because of this change.

I’m looking forward to managing a client’s account on my own, to putting on my first summit for people in the industry, I’m even excited just to be in charge of the day to day aspects of the job from Social Media posts to Blog Writing.

When I first met Ariel she said that everyday you should be learning something new at your job. And if you ever stop learning that’s your signal to leave. If that’s true I imagine I will have several years and a lot to learn here at Duo.

Jon Gleason is a recent graduate of the School of Communication, and majored in RTVF and English (Creative Writing). He now works for Duo Consulting in Chicago.