Here’s a question about applying to summer internships:
“Do you know how I would apply to any summer internships? And where I can get more information on what a summer term internship entails?
My entertainment interests include filmmaking in general and more specifically, screenwriting. Of course, I haven’t yet been involved in the industry so my interests might change! Right now, I am studying English and Creative Writing, and I’m a sophomore.”
This is a packed question, so I’ll break it down into three separate posts:
- How do you apply for summer internships?
- How do you land an internship?
- What’s the day to day of an internship entail?
Part 1: How do you apply for summer internships?
The summer internship. A rite of passage for many students, but you decided you didn’t want any old internship. You want one in HOLLYWOOD, in the film and television industry.
We’ll cover how to apply and land an internship over these next few days (and these tactics and strategies work even if you’re not a student.)
First: Unless you’re coming in through your university, you NEED to be in LA to get an internship in the film and television industry.
Yes, you can intern at a local affiliate TV station. Yes, there are productions happening all over the United States of ‘Merica (Baton Rouge, Detroit, New York City, etc.)
If you want to work at the center of the film and television industry, live in Los Angeles. No telecommuting. No remote work. No excuses.
3 Ways To Become an Irresistible, Must-Hire Candidate Before You Move
Hollywood is a machine that churns 11 out of 12 months a year, so there are always internship opportunities (save for the end of December and start of January. The agencies close for an extended break, and in turn, the studios and production companies close).
If you’re specifically looking for a summer internship, those start circulating in late April.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do if you’re eager to get started:
#1: Research What Companies Want
Start with getting the widely circulated UTA job list.
With this list, you’ll build up access to dozens of companies and job descriptions. Start researching these companies — you already know they hire and what they’re looking for:
- Has the CEO been interviewed?
- What films or television shows did they produce in the past?
- What’s on their slate currently?
Armed with your research, start querying these companies and pointedly ask about summer internships. Incorporate your research so they know you did your homework, and DON’T mention you don’t live in Los Angeles yet unless they directly ask.
You don’t want to disqualify yourself before your foot is in the door.
#2: Make Your Resume Powerful
That means you:
- Have a narrative. Craft your story around the position and company you’re applying for. Use your research and include relevant experience only (which means leaving out the summer you spent at Starbucks). Your resume is not your job history, it’s the narrative of how and why you can help the person reading it.
- Show, don’t tell. Which is more powerful: “Excellent communicator with extraordinary interpersonal skills, willing to take on any challenge” or “Coordinated publication of 63-page magazine between Editorial, Advertising, and Business Affairs teams in a one-month timeline to a circulation of 150,000 readers”? Which one is telling and which one is showing?
- Keep the language simple. There’s a temptation to be overly verbose in your resume (“Acquired stimulants at accelerated timelines to ensure delivery of product within deadline.”) Don’t. Hiring managers know how to read between the lines (“Delivered coffee.”) If it’s compelling in normal language, leave it in. If it’s not, take it out.
- Don’t waste time fussing over format. Yes, the resume must look presentable and there can’t be any typos. Beyond that, don’t spend time fussing over the format. It doesn’t matter.
- Don’t worry about the “weight” of the paper. Same as above. No one cares if you used card stock or 75% recycled from OfficeMax — what matters is the value you bring to the company.
- Don’t skimp on the cover letter. Think of your cover letter as the “tip of your spear”: A cover letter gets your resume read… which gets you an interview… which gets you a second interview… which gets you the job. But if you clumsily hack through a cover letter (or worse, copy and paste from a template) you can’t advance to the next stage.
#3: Start saving that cash money
About 90 percent of the internships out here in LaLa land are unpaid.
The other 10 percent pay minimum wage, which may put a dent on the rent of your one-bedroom apartment (a small dent. Let’s just say you won’t be ordering bottle service at Hakasan anytime soon).
Start saving that cash money now. There’s nothing more demoralizing than watching your bank account plummet closer and closer to zero while working for free.
You can find posts on how to earn more and save more here.
Plus, if you subscribe to the blog, you can download the Moving to Los Angeles calculator, which calculates exactly how much you should save before moving to LA.
Don’t Count On It — Any Of It
I’ll be totally candid with you:
Don’t bank on landing any of these internship opportunities in your first go-around.
Definitely not any from the UTA job list.
A friend explained to me how difficult it was to pick candidates for two internship spots at his company:
“For a job post on UTA, we got about 50 replies from students around the nation for one or two spots. Unpaid. I had to pick out 5 resumes to send to the CE, who chose 3 to interview. That means, cold applying, statistically, you might have to apply to 25-50 of these to get an internship!
Yes, you really do spend about 10 seconds per resume. There are some atrocious resumes. But there are enough good ones, too, that I decided who to pass up with admittedly biased metrics: who studied abroad in the same place I did? Who goes to a school I like? Who studied the major I did?”
No idea if his math is right (I know: Worst Asian ever). But you get the idea: Your chances of landing an internship when you come in through the front door on a cold application is low.
So how can you improve those chances?
You’ll learn more about how to land the internship and what it might entail in parts 2 and 3. Coming soon — subscribe so you don’t miss it.
Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker