Landing a Dream Internship
In partnership with Dream Careers, Santa Fe University of Art and Design students traveled to top companies and organizations around the world as interns this summer to begin making their mark as professionals in the art, design, communications and film industries.
August 2016—As an undergraduate student on a first-time internship, your world shifts. You apply what you’ve learned in class to your work. You begin to make professional connections. With each conversation, you discover that coworkers view life differently, which creates new sources of creative possibilities and problem solving. Learning about other people, and possibly another culture, also helps you learn about yourself, which continues to shape who you will be as a professional.
This summer, Santa Fe University of Art and Design partnered with Dream Careers to send more than a dozen students from all majors on internships—to Barcelona, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, and Paris. Our faculty and staff knew that they’d return energized to complete their programs—and with a better awareness of who they want to become as professionals.
Read their stories to witness their personal transformations:
Film Intern, Kids at Play, Los Angeles, California
What I thought going in: I really wanted to get experience in the film industry. Although my classes gave me a lot of knowledge, I’ve never had the opportunity to test it out in the real world.
What the process was like: Once I was fully enrolled in the program, things happened fast. I found myself scheduled for interviews three times a week! Dream Careers was extremely helpful in preparing me and helped me revamp my résumé.
What I learned: Before starting my internship, I was hoping I would be given opportunities to do a variety of work within the film industry. My more logical side told me I would only be doing hands-on work once in a while. This internship proved me wrong! I got to work on set all day, which kept me on my toes. Before I knew it, I was on the set of a pilot TV show running around cuing actors and shouting “we’re rolling, people!” at the top of my lungs. Lately, we’ve been developing TV show concepts. We pitched our ideas to the Kids at Play team. This internship let me experience everything I possibly could, from the beginning of a project to the end.
Advice for current students: Take your career into your own hands. This experience made me realize I need to decide what I want with my own life and make it happen, because no one else is going to do it for me. If an opportunity comes for me to do another internship, I would take it without hesitation.
Creative Writing and Literature
Publishing Intern, Jill Grinberg Literary Management, Brooklyn, New York
What I thought going in: After telling everyone for years that I want to make books, I needed to discover what that actually means in the market today. I want to have as much experience as possible before venturing out into the job market.
What the process was like: The placement process began with internship and scholarship applications. My internship coordinator and I discussed my dream internship, and after submitting my revamped résumé, one of my top companies, Jill Grinberg Literary Management, requested an interview. The boutique literary agency represents authors like Marissa Meyer, Scott Westerfield, and Garth Nix. The internship is beyond anything I could have imagined. There’s so much about this industry I didn’t even know existed. I learned so much by working alongside people who know this business, collaborating on projects, and listening. It’s so rewarding.
What I learned: A large part of my job entailed reading unsolicited manuscripts, which included writing a reader’s report. This internship taught me to look at the bigger picture. When reading manuscripts, I focus so hard on the craft of it that I sometimes forget to consider how this story might fit in the market. Sometimes a story can be well written, but the concept is not original enough to stand out. Other times, a concept is great, but the writing isn’t there. For the most part, we read manuscripts on our own, but there are some that we read together. What’s been most helpful is hearing how other people approach assessing a manuscript’s potential. Three months ago I was confident I wanted to be an editor. Now that I’ve met so many people working in different corners of the industry—literary agents, publicists, and foreign rights directors—I don’t quite know what I want to be, but it would be amazing to do more internships to further explore this field.
Advice for current students: Chase after career opportunities and try absolutely everything. Leave your comfort zone. Up until the night before my internship began, I couldn’t believe I was really doing this. I’m not particularly brave, and definitely not brave enough to live in a huge city for two months, without a car, travelling only by subway, learning to network, getting to know my managers. It turns out that bravery isn’t needed, just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. If you’re passionate about your field, go for it. Surround yourself with people whose experience surpasses your own.
VERONICA “RONNIE” GARCIA
Comic Editing Intern, EMET Entertainment, Los Angeles, California
What I thought going in: My biggest goal for this summer was to be pushed out of my comfort zone and participate in projects that I normally would avoid out of fear of being inadequate.
What I learned: Although I’ve taken a few comics-related classes at SFUAD, I’ve never worked on a project this big before. Since “Spoilerland” was already printed and had gone through a few revisions, my job was to come in with fresh eyes and help point out things that could be improved. Having a background in visual and story development has definitely worked to my advantage, but I’ve also learned how to construct my ideas and proposals in new ways that make sense to the current creative team. Working on an expansive story and concept with room to explore diverse characters has been incredibly rewarding, and working with a team has allowed me to have a voice in the creative process of developing the comic. The most surprising thing that’s happened is how much agency and creative freedom I’ve had working on this project. Being trusted by mentors who respect my knowledge and opinions on a project as big as “Spoilerland” is exhilarating.
Advice for current students: Be prepared for anything and everything. Be proactive. Do your research and have several options to fall back on in case your first choices don’t pan out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your professors, peers, and coordinators are valuable resources; ask tons of questions early to avoid confusion and stress later.
Photo Department Intern, Esquire Magazine, New York, New York
What I thought going in: I was hoping to get an idea of how my industry of interest really works and how to get my foot in the door.
What the process was like: I’ve learned a lot at the internship and the Dream Careers team has been nothing but helpful and encouraging. They’re eager and ready to help with any questions I may have.
What I learned: I thought working for a magazine would be a stable alternative to freelance photography, but what I’ve learned is that’s not what I want at all. I think I want to work behind the scenes where the pictures are actually being made. I was on a photoshoot when there was some downtime and got to talk to the photographer’s assistant, who gave me a lot of great advice about what and who you really need to know to get in. That day refueled my passion for photography and made me realize where I really wanted to be. If anything, this experience has clarified what I really want. I definitely want to come back to New York. The most surprising thing about my internship has been the level of respect in the office. They treat me like I really work here.
Advice for current students: Give Dream Careers a chance. They create so many great opportunities that you may not otherwise have available.
ANDI PAIGE STEVENSON
Casting Intern, Liz Lewis Casting Partners, New York, New York
What I thought going in: That I would gain some experience and insight into a part of the entertainment industry that fascinates me, as well as a trial run of living and working in my favorite city.
What the process was like: I have had an incredible experience with Dream Careers. The interviews and placement process went very smoothly and all of the staff in NYC are extremely helpful. I am enjoying my internship immensely and learning so much both from work and from the educational programs that Dream Careers produces for us.
What I learned: I have learned so much about casting and the entertainment industry through office days as well as casting call days. The Dream Careers workshops and seminars have taught me a lot about networking and making the most of this experience. It has changed the path of my career greatly; I am now thinking I would like to go into something like casting or press. I have learned that I still want to be working for primarily theatre projects, but on the agency side. I have also made many connections that will help me further my career, and I hope to pursue more opportunities in casting both as internships and a career.
Advice for current students: Networking is the main way to launch yourself into any arts-based career, so be sure not only to make connections, but also to stay in touch and cultivate those business relationships. Don’t limit your learning experience to industry-exclusive opportunities; every experience is a chance to learn something that will set you apart in the long run. Finally, communication and body language are everything. A positive attitude, strong communication skills, and a bright smile will take you far.
Assistant to the Distribution and Delivery Department, Adler and Associates Entertainment, Inc., Los Angeles, California
What I thought going in: I wanted to learn more about the business aspects of film and at the same time have the opportunity to be creative with my work.
What I learned: I have been working on trailers for indie films and creating posters for films from all over the world, which has helped me improve at editing and layout. It is exciting because I never know what project is coming next. I have worked on projects from México, Argentina, France, Australia, and the U.S. I still want to write and direct films, but this internship has expanded my mind regarding which path to take once I graduate. Knowing the industry and understanding what you can offer is very valuable. Being in Hollywood and working with real producers who are willing to share their knowledge with you is a really big deal.
Advice for current students: Go out there and find an internship that will allow you to practice what you have learned in class. Apply it to the real world and be willing to take criticism. Get to know your capabilities and work as hard as possible to meet the professional standards.