Internships

"I love my job and the people I work with, and my boss treats me wonderfully. I have my own huge cubicle, a comfy chair, my own computer and phone, and my own stapler. I even have a jar full of candy to share with the people who rarely visit my desk."

Program of Study: Communications
Internship: Hallmark Channel intern
Location: Studio City, California

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities as an intern.
I work in the Publicity department at the Hallmark Channel.  When I first arrived, we were taking care of last-minute preparations for the bi-annual Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour, so my responsibilities around that included copyediting endless press materials, developing and formatting talent bios, organizing a gift for talent, and anything else my superiors (i.e. everyone) threw at me. Now that TCA is over (thankfully), my main responsibilities have been developing press kits for screenplays Hallmark is producing currently or in the near future.  I also attend photo shoots and spend time on the sets of any movies we’re shooting.

How did you find your internship?
I got my internship through the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) summer internship program.  My brother was the one who found the program and suggested I apply for one of the 29 internship categories.  The application, including two letters of recommendation, a 300-400 word professional statement, had to be in by mid-March.  I decided to apply for the Public Relations category (you’re only allowed to apply for one), and I wrote my 300-400 word statement as a fake press release, announcing that I was applying and who I was.  I found out once I got here that it was the first time they had ever seen something like that. It wasn’t until the end of April that I found out I was a finalist.  That meant I had twelve days to film an uncut video interview of me answering questions they posed to me in an E-mail.  After a couple tries, and with the help of my friend Adam Tucker (’11), I got the DVD mailed out with only a day to spare. I was one of five finalists chosen for the Public Relations category, and I found out June 9 that I had won for my category.  Actually, from what I have heard, this is the first year they chose two PR interns – but we both have different assignments.  On June 25, I was on a plane out here, and I started my eight-week internship on the 30th.

What resources did you find particularly helpful in your internship search?
This question isn’t really applicable to me.  The past two internships I’ve had have been a result of me going out on a limb and landing it myself. Last year, I wanted to live in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada for the summer (the reason for my wanting to live there is a long story that would be unnecessary to go into).  So when Goucher told me they had nothing out there, and other internship websites were equally fruitless, I turned to the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce website.  From there, I contacted any radio station, newspaper, and television station I could, asking if they had room for an intern.  The editor of The Abbotsford Times responded; they had never had an intern before but were willing to take me on.  However, he couldn’t promise me anything until he interviewed me in person; he had seen my résumé, though, and was pretty sure it would work out.  Needless to say, that internship was more of a leap of faith than anything else.

Why did you choose your internship? What factored into your search and applying?
This was actually the only internship I applied for.  I knew that if I got it, there was no way I would decline it, especially since it pays a $4,000 stipend and gives me the best experience I could ever ask for in “the business,” as it’s called.  Also, ATAS’s internship program is known as one of the best in the country for getting students involved in the entertainment and media industries.

What were you most apprehensive about going into your internship?
After they chose me, all I could worry about was whether or not I would be able to live up to their expectations.  Did I know enough about PR to go head first into doing publicity for a top-ten cable network?  Would the entertainment industry swallow me and spit me out before I even knew I was in Los Angeles?  I was able to put my apprehensions aside, as friends and family convinced me they would not have chosen me for the internship if they didn’t believe I was qualified.

What did you hope to gain from your internship experience?
I’ve learned so much.  I really just wanted a real-world experience of PR, and that’s exactly what I’m getting.  I started my major thinking what I ultimately wanted to do was advertising/PR, and up until now I had gotten industry experience in every aspect of my major other than that.  This internship is so much more than I had expected.

How did your internship experience influence your academic and career interests/goals/plans?
After only a month, I was already planning on moving out here after graduation.  In fact, if Hallmark offers me a job when my internship is over, I will consider graduating a semester early in order to get out here sooner.  Maybe it’s cliché, but I think I really belong out here.  I really love the West Coast.

What were the most challenging aspects of your internship?
I’d say my biggest challenge here has been learning how to professionally interact with celebrities.  For instance, at TCA our talent included stars like Candace Cameron Bure (D.J. from “Full House”), Cheech Marin (of Cheech and Chong), Mark Consuelos (husband of Kelly Ripa, the only celebrity I adore), Florence Henderson (Mrs. Brady), and a bunch of others I couldn’t wait to meet.  However, even though I wanted pictures with all of them and was more than tempted to act like the average star-struck fan, I was at TCA as a Hallmark employee.  I had to contain my excitement and remain professional.  Also, the coffee machine here is really complicated.

What were most rewarding aspects of your internship?
Honestly, I could not have asked for a better internship.  I love my job and the people I work with, and my boss treats me wonderfully.  I have my own huge cubicle, a comfy chair, my own computer and phone, and my own stapler.  I even have a jar full of candy to share with the people who rarely visit my desk.

Any funny/ embarrassing things happen during your internship?
Too many to list.  But I guess I’m just a funny/embarrassing person.
On the set of “Love Takes Wing,” (premiering on Hallmark in April – everyone should watch it), I sat down backstage with former Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson – “Love Takes Wing” is his first film.  We talked a bit about getting into the business and how some day I will be famous… he may or may not have believed me about that.  I asked him about the Backstreet Boys, and, after he answered, I told him I was always more of an NSYNC fan, to which he responded something along the lines of, “Oh, you’ve hurt my feelings so much – I’m so crushed.”  Cute and sarcastic – who would have known? During TCA, I had to escort Mark Consuelos from the green room to meet with photographers from MSNBC.  Now, keep in mind, if I could do anything for a career, I would be Kelly Ripa (or, I guess, have Regis’s job on “Live!” – then I could work with Kelly).  All I wanted to tell Mark was “I want to be your wife” (because I do, but it has nothing to do with marrying him) – but that seemed a bit too forward for having only just introduced myself.  Instead, I went with “By the way, if your wife ever decides to take a vacation, I am totally down to fill in for her.”  He laughed.  What’s with these celebrities not taking me seriously?

How do you feel your internship prepared you for the real world?
Well, if Hallmark offers me a job in a few weeks, I’d say it’s prepared me really well.

What advice would you give to students to help them make the most of their internship experience?
If you’re going somewhere you’re not familiar with, either buy a GPS or learn the main streets like the back of your hand (unless you are not familiar with your hand or do not have hands, in which case, choose something you are extremely familiar with and use that as your simile). Also, insert here whatever cliché advice everybody gives: be early, overdress, ask questions, keep busy, and consider no job to be below you (after all, you’re the intern – you’re lucky people even remember your name)… those are all really good ideas.

How do you utilize the skills you developed in your internship experience in your job now?
I’ll let you know when all of Hollywood’s stars are asking me to be their publicist!

Aliza Rosen

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