Getting the Most Out of Your Internship
by Justin Swope
Like many East Coast natives, I did not know what LA was truly like until I got here. Being immersed in the entertainment industry has not only helped me to understand how this fascinating business really works and how to find my place in its sprawling environment, but it’s also taught me that the business is largely based on relationships. On the first day of my internship, I was introduced to everyone in the office and as the weeks went on, these executives and their assistants became more to me than simply work associates. They became my friends. One of the most important pieces of advice I can give to someone looking to pursue a career in this industry is that personality matters just as much as merit. Sure, you can complete your assignments and be good at what you do, but, at the end of the day, what really matters is how you present yourself.
Instead of sticking with the basic assignments that came with my job description as an intern, I ventured around the office, finding other opportunities to contribute and getting to know everyone on a personal level. Sometimes dropping by a development executive’s office could lead to an opportunity to discuss ideas for a new TV show. Other times it could lead to a personal discussion about how they got to where they are now and what advice they would give me based on my aspirations. In addition, being proactive allowed me to take on more responsibility and prove myself as a creative asset. Thus, I was able to build strong relationships on both a professional and social level.
Ultimately, contacts are the absolute most important thing you can gain from the LA Semester. As the semester winds down, I will be sure not only to keep in touch with all the executives and assistants who have helped me to focus my career goals, but I will also make sure to grab lunch or even a drink with them once I’m back in LA. Spending the past few months in the City of Angels has easily been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Of course, I anticipate that I’ll be returning very, very soon.
Justin Swope at one of his internships at Showtime.