Internships weren’t something I thought about as a high school student. In fact, I didn’t start thinking about jobs or postgrad life until my sophomore year. That’s when I started learning about internships and quickly realized that I needed to figure out how to prepare myself for life after college.
Fast forward four years, I’m a senior Dramatic Writing major with two internships under my belt (and hopefully more to come!). Everything I’ve learned about the internship process has been through a lot of trial and error. So I’m here to share some of my tips for securing an internship in entertainment.
Tip #1: Anything Counts as Experience
Sometimes applying for internships can be a chicken-and-egg situation. I want an internship to get experience, but I need experience to get an internship. This was the first big hurdle I had to jump over as a sophomore.
But anything can count as experience!
Clubs and organizations are a great way to build up your résumé. If I could go back in time, I would’ve told myself to get more involved in the clubs on campus! NYU has so many clubs for students interested in entertainment. We have several newspapers, magazines, radio stations, play and film festivals, and more. And if you hold a leadership position in a club, you can easily transfer a lot of those skills to a job or internship.
On-campus jobs are another way to enhance your résumé. I’ve been working on campus since my first year, so I’ve been able to use those experiences on my résumé. I was a teacher’s assistant for Future Dramatic Writers, which is a spring high school program for students interested in dramatic writing. Currently, I’m an Admissions Ambassador and digital ambassador, where I get to help prospective students navigate NYU (and write articles like this one)!
Projects are also a great way to showcase your skills and talent to recruiters. Projects can be really important if you’re applying for internships that require the use of any software, equipment, or programming language!
I love taking project-based classes because I get to learn a new skill and receive feedback on my work before recruiters review it. Through my major, I’ve developed a portfolio of screenplays and TV episodes that I’m proud of. I’ve also taken classes outside of my major, like Introduction to Editing, Visual Foundation Studio, and Motion Graphics Studio, that taught me how to use video editing and graphic design software!
Tip #2: Do Your Research First
Research is my favorite part of the process because it requires a bit of reflection. Internships are mini-jobs (and some internships can feel like full-time jobs). You’ll be spending a lot of time working on the same tasks and with the same team. So it’s important to think about what you want out of that experience. I like to think about what I want to learn, whom I want to meet, and what experience I need to get my dream job in the future.
Once you have the answer to these questions, research companies and positions you want to apply for. There are more job titles in entertainment than you’d think! It took me a while to realize that I should be searching for “creative development” or “scripted development” roles instead of “TV writing.”
The easiest way to learn about what’s out there is to check it out for yourself. What’s great about being an NYU Tisch School of the Arts student is that I have access to Handshake and College Central Network. Handshake is a platform open to all NYU students to find internships and job opportunities across various industries. College Central is a platform specifically for Tisch students to find opportunities in creative industries. Both of these platforms make researching opportunities way easier!
Tip #3: Use Your Network
You found the internship of your dreams. How do you put your best self forward in the application process? Most internships require a résumé and cover letter. I highly recommend checking out the Wasserman Center for Career Development and the Tisch Office of Career Development for any help preparing your materials!
Also, I like to find past interns on campus (or on LinkedIn) who have worked for the company or had a similar role and ask them questions. This allows me to learn about the daily experiences of an intern and the company culture, which also helps me craft a more specific résumé and cover letter.
Preprofessional clubs at NYU are a great place to meet students who have interned in the entertainment and media industries. I’ve met a lot of great people through clubs like STEBA (Stern andTisch Entertainment Business Association) and CommClub. Both clubs are open to anyone, and you don’t need to attend all the meetings to be a part of them.
Tip #4: Practice Makes Perfect
Whether you’re preparing for an in-person or virtual interview, practice, practice, practice!
Research common interview questions and prepare your answers for those. Sometimes I’ll research the company or industry and create questions based on what I learn. Then I’ll write my responses and time myself. The goal isn’t to memorize but to feel comfortable with your answer.
But, remember, you’re also interviewing the company! Is this company or role a good fit for you? Will this position help you in future roles you want to have? How can you learn through this position? Applying to jobs is kind of like the college application process in that way! So prepare a couple of questions and write down the interviewer’s answers.
Tip #5: Keep Going!
Unfortunately, you’ll get more noes than yeses. I was rejected from 90 percent of the internships I applied to my sophomore year. I ended up receiving an internship offer from the last company I applied to. Rejection is redirection (as cheesy as it sounds), so don’t be discouraged. Keep applying to internships, keep making connections, and keep learning about the opportunities that are out there!