Landing a Creative Internship- Advice from Two FIDM Digital Media Students

Like many design and film students, as we begin the Fall Quarter here at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, many students find themselves on the hunt for open internship positions in the design and entertainment industries.

Two FIDM Digital Media Students shared with FIDMDigitalArts.com advice about how they got hired as digital media interns at high profile companies (Warner Bros. Studios and NBC Universal) and about the exciting experiences they gained.

FIDM Digital Media Students share their internship advice.

Rebecca Kerzer is a current FIDM Digital Media Student who recently started a film internship with NBC Universal. Prior to attending FIDM, she earned a degree in Communications and Public Relations, and had experience producing web videos, commercials, music videos and films at a production company, Disposable Television in New York.

Kerzer was hired to be a film intern in NBC Universal’s custom content marketing department, which produces packages with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with actors for video marketing, and electronic press kits and supply clips. As an intern, she will be editing video footage, tape logging, office work and other tasks to support the department this Fall.

“I am excited to work at a big studio, I’ve only worked at smaller companies until now,” she says. “I’ll get a chance to see how things work at NBC Universal, gain experience and contacts, and hopefully see some celebrities.”

It’s clear that sometimes there can be many hurdles to overcome during the interview process, as demonstrated by Kerzer’s experience.

“It took a few months from when I first applied, to when I found out I got the position,” she says.

To begin the application process, Kerzer applied for the film internship online through NBC Universal’s website. Next, she filled out a questionnaire via email, which was followed by a mini phone interview. Finally, Kerzer was scheduled for an in-person interview. It’s clear that her patience paid off, however, when she was selected to participate in the intern program.

“Hopefully an internship like this will open a lot of doors for me in the future,” says Kerzer. “Even if I don’t end up working in the department I intern for, or for NBC, it will look really good on my resume and allow me to meet people and connect with others who could help me in the future.”

NBC Universal Website Home Page

(Above: NBC Universal Website. FIDM Digital Media Student, Rebecca Kerzer, shares her experience as an intern at NBC Universal.)

FIDM Digital Media Student and Warner Bros. intern, Marielle Pasco.

(Above: FIDM Digital Media Student and Warner Bros. Studios inern, Marielle Pasco.)

Marielle Pasco is also a current FIDM Digital Media Student who served as a paid digital media intern at Warner Bros. Studios during the Summer quarter.

“My advice for other students seeking internships in the entertainment industry is to just never give up and keep trying,” says Pasco, who applied for the Digital Media internship through Warner Bros.’ career website.

“Always try to aim higher than what you can achieve and do more than what is expected of you.”

Pasco emphasizes the importance of expressing your enthusiasm during the interview process.

“I think I landed this internship because I was very determined and eager to not only gain experience by working for such a great studio, but I was really looking forward to learning a lot from them,” she says.

Working in the Digital Media department in Television Marketing’s services team, and for the design team, Pasco was exposed to various creative roles. While the servicing team works with Warner Bros.’ international clients to preview and purchase footage for international television networks, the design team develops graphics for Warner Bros. affiliated websites such as CWTV.com.

“The best part about my internship is just working with the people,” she says. “I also love the fact that I have access to the Warner Bros. studios lot so I am able to go there on my lunch break and walk around and explore.”

Since the internship ended, Pasco has been offered a part-time position as a designer, assisting in web administration, and supporting the servicing team as well.

“My education at FIDM has definitely taught me how to be professional out in the real world,” she says. “All the deadlines and persistence to do better in all my projects have helped my work ethic a lot.”

Internship guidelines for employers
At FIDM, Graphic Design or Digital Media Students are encouraged to pursue internships while completing their degree to enhance their education and gain real-world design industry experience. Many times internships can lead to job opportunities and expose students to challenges and achievements that they can anticipate as future creative professionals.

While a creative internship can be a valuable learning experience and networking opportunity, it’s important for both employers and students to understand federal and state regulations that define the structure of an internship to avoid mistreatment. FIDM’s Career Center works meticulously to ensure that all intern employers follow the California state laws for universities, which protect students from unjust internships and volunteer opportunities.

For example, FIDM Interns must work at a professional place of business, and cannot work remotely or in home offices, and they may work only eight or 10 hours per week. Further, the federal government establishes six guidelines, which are supported by the state of California, to determine when internships may be unpaid.

1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

But wait, there’s more. To download the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division guidelines, click here.

As reported by the New York Times in 2010, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has stated that for “internships to be unpaid, they must be educational and predominantly for the benefit of the intern, not the employer.” Furthermore, if an intern is not receiving college credit, they must be paid at least minimum wage.

In other words, the internship must resemble training given in an academic institution (not just coffee-ordering and mail-fetching), an intern should not replace the work that another employer would be doing (an internship should not feel like a full-time job.

For more information about creative internships, read our article Internships in the Creative Design Industry: What you Need to Know (click here).

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Questions/comments? Email the editor, Mani O’Brien at mo’brien@fidm.edu.

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Author: Mani

Mani O’Brien is the Online Editor for the FIDMDigitalArts Blog and the Social Media Marketing Manager for FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in print journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications at Arizona State University in 2006, and Associate of Arts degree in Graphic Design (Professional Designation) at FIDM in 2010. When she’s not brainstorming social media marketing ideas or writing about the graphic design and digital media, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading magazines, and hanging out with friends and family in Los Angeles.

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