“There’s finding one and there’s getting one,” says first-year student Emily Doll about landing just the right summer internship. Doll is a freshman in the Scripps School of Media Arts and Studies, taking 16.5 credit hours and double-majoring in screenwriting and producing and Spanish. She spends a bulk of her time shooting and editing with the on-campus organization films and stuff, organizing events as an active member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and writing as a culture reporter for The Post. Doll explains that participating in organizations that want members to do project-based work can be challenging when many of her classes also have project requirements, but the effort is well worth the experience.
“A lot of us came in with zero experience,” Doll says, “I had no experience. It was kind of a shot in the dirt, majoring in media.”
Doll had always enjoyed both movies and writing. She wanted to become a novelist, but later decided her abiding love for film could turn into a potential career if she combined her two hobbies. Doll wasn’t sure what exact road her major might lead her to, but she felt that landing an internship was the best way to figure it out.
“I always knew you [have to] get an internship as early as possible,” Doll states.
Her ideal internship would be with Indian Paintbrush Productions LLC, a production company founded in 2006, based in Santa Monica, CA. Indian Paintbrush has produced movies such as The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015). Doll’s interest in the production company stems from its frequent collaboration with Wes Anderson, a film director who Doll regards as a “visionary”. Doll believes the relatively small size of Indian Paintbrush might allow for a more intimate experience than would a larger company, such as Warner Bros. Pictures. Doll opted not to apply to her dream company this year, but she did apply to a few others she noticed on one of the Scripps Internship Newsletters which Scripps students receive biweekly via email.
Reynolds and Reynolds, a company that provides automotive retailing solutions for car dealers and automakers in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Europe, according to the company website, offered Doll a summer internship at their World Headquarters in Dayton, OH. Doll will start interning for the company’s multimedia department in the beginning of May.
She will work Monday through Friday, around 40 hours a week, for about $10 an hour. The application process was a few weeks long and included several aptitude tests, phone calls, and Skype interviews.
“I never expected to actually get the [internship],” says Doll, who was completely taken aback when she was asked during an interview what her preferred salary might be. “They could have said $2 and I would have been excited.”
Unfortunately for other students, stories like Doll’s seem to be few and far between. Beth Miller, another freshman majoring in Screenwriting and Producing, has had a more difficult time finding and applying for internships. The first thing Miller did when she began her internship search was type “Columbus media companies” into Google. She has since started talking to friends of her parents, searching for and trying to build connections in the media industry. She has found that building connections, a crucial part of the obtaining an internship, according to Doll, can be challenging as a first-year student.
“My classes are still really big, I am still in giant lectures and not getting close to my professors. It is hard to stand out to someone if you’re just one [in] their 300-person class,” she explains. Miller also notes that it is obvious that most companies want interns with more than just one year of college under their belt.
“A lot of [applications] online just say that ‘unless you’re a junior or senior […] don’t even apply.'” Miller is currently working on a demo-reel to strengthen her applications and plans to apply for summer internships this semester.
Karen Peters, Internships and Student Services Specialist in the Scripps College of Communication, supports Miller’s claim that most companies are looking for students with more experience.
She says that “employers generally want students with more developed skill-sets such as with juniors and seniors.”
Peters notes that many freshmen who do find internships might have found them through the utilization of the defined networks they already have, or through Scripps’ internship postings, such as in Doll’s experience. Though Doll also applied to Turner, a global media company based in Atlanta, GA with brands including CNN and TNT, she understood that the odds of landing such a huge internship were slim. She states that starting with a smaller internship could (one day) be critical to landing the internship of your dreams at a huge company in Los Angeles.
According to Peters, one of the most important ways to get to that point is to create a portfolio, such as what Miller has begun to build with her demo reel. Peters also advises developing “a college level resume noting activities in college,” as a student’s high school information should fall off after sophomore year. Doll echoes the importance of a good resume and cover letter. “What you’re doing essentially is selling yourself,” Doll explains. To market yourself to companies as a freshman, your creative and organizational abilities should be present within the application alone. “You want to say, ‘look, I am impressive.’”
Photo courtesy of the author.