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Doing It Right: An LA Semester

Doing It Right: An LA Semester

Tips, tricks, and tribulations from a Cinema and Photography student's semester in Los Angeles

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Written by Colleen Cunha      Add a comment

The Morning After on Hulu

Woah. It's hard to imagine that the semester is pretty much over... but I guess the fact that my stuff is packed up and my finals are over means it's true! So it must be time for grades then, yeah? Here we go!

The Pendleton Center: A-

The Pendleton Center is a cool place. It's near the apartments, it has a tiny kitchen with a coffee maker and vending machines, there's a DVD library, a media lab, a screening room, and all the teachers can be found there. It's a nice place to do work too if your apartment is too loud or anything. The minus though is for parking. You usually have to pay to park there and during the rainy season (which is pretty much all of November and December) it's a bit of a ways to walk without breaking the law and jaywalking. But overall, a pretty good job!


The walk from the Oakwoods to Pendleton on a cloudy morning.

The Oakwoods: B

The Oakwoods get a B, because they're average. It feels weird to live in such a big apartment building and I guess I've been spoiled living in the IC Circles for the past two years. The Oakwoods are exactly what you would expect from a Hollywood temporary apartment complex -- child actors running around, neighbors who are used to quiet, and creepy dudes outside your window on the balcony across from yours. It's a fine place to live but watch out: the garbage disposals tend to clog up.


Finally checking out of the Oakwood Apartments.

My Internship: A+

Maybe it was just me, but my internship experience was better than I could have ever imagined. And your future internship can be this good too! Keep in mind that the people you meet in college are going to be your friends out here. It was a recent alum who got me my internship and he's since been hired there too. But any internship can be good if you work your butt off. You're going to get exactly as much out of it as you put into it.


There were some very memorable moments at my internship...

The City of Los Angeles: B+

Now I'm not a city person at all. I come from a town with no stop lights and a brand new Dunkin' Donuts is the first chain store in the town ever. But LA isn't half bad. There's got plenty to do, from cool restaurants to scenic hikes and drives, but the downside is getting places. I guess, relatively, stuff is close together in LA. There are three grocery stores within 10 miles... but those drives can take you forever if you go when there's even a little traffic. My commute isn't long (luckily) but my roommates sometimes spend hours in the car on the way back from Santa Monica. Just keep in mind that travel isn't fun, but enjoy the rest of the city -- it's here for your enjoyment!

The ICLA Program's Total GPA for the semester: 3.5

Not bad for a program that's lead to plenty of successful careers (which you'll get to hear all about during Media Industries class) and was overall a fantastic experience. I wouldn't have traded any of it for anything else, and I'm sure future members of the program will be just as pleased with their time here if they know what they're looking for.

But that's all folks, thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures in California... I can't wait to be back out here in (hopefully) just a few short months!

 

Written by Colleen Cunha      Add a comment

My phone contacts list where everyone from my internship is listed under HD Films

One of the things you'll hear a million times before and while you're out here, is that "it's who you know." Being a part of the Ithaca College community is a fantastic starting point, if you know alums, or sometimes relatives or even family friends can get you ahead in the game. Here's how to use these connections to your advantage without taking advantage.

1. Use your closest contacts first.

By this I mean if you have a friend who's an intern and a brother's girlfriend's neighbor's wife's dog-sitter who's an executive, go for the friend. Having a personal connection with someone who has pull in the industry is going to make them want to help you! If they get to give you a legitimate recommendation, it will make them feel good, it will make the company more likely to hire you, and it will make you look like you're really someone that they want. This is how I got my internship and it turned out great! Because the person who recommended me was a friend, he had real reasons to think I should be hired at the company.

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I got my internship through a friend who had interned there before.

2. Be professional.

If you're looking for a loophole in the internship-getting process, people are going to be able to tell. Knowing someone up high can be great for your career, but knowing people will only help you, it won't make you. You have to also be able to stand on your own and look good -- you're representing the person who recommended you! If you end up making a fool of yourself because you're late or you don't try it'll reflect poorly on you and your contact, and they won't be likely to help you again. So be smart, and if you're given an opportunity, don't screw it up.

3. Be open to whatever your contacts can give you.

I had an interesting contact experience since I've been out here. My father, who's a plumber, recently did some work for the son of a couple that lived in the neighborhood I grew up in. They got to talking and, lo and behold, their son is now very much "in" with the Hollywood folk. He wanted to help me out so he shot me an email asking about my interests and decided to set me up with a friend of his who works on a new Disney show. I talked to her and she offered to give me a tour of the lot. Although kids shows aren't really where I hope to end up, I figured it would still be great to get a feel for the atmosphere. A week later we met up and she took me on stage, introduced me to the writers, (one of whom happens to be an Ithaca alum!) and gave me some solid advice. I presented myself professionally and she responded well! I couldn't have hoped for more out of a quick tour.

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I got to take some photos behind the scenes of a new Disney Channel show during shooting!

4. Stay in contact with people.

After my tour at the Disney lot the woman I met with said that we should stay in touch, and we absolutely will. She's someone who can have my back in the industry and who's willing to help me go places, so I'm going to be sure to stay in touch with her while I go back to Ithaca for my final semester. If I never speak to her again until I need help with something that's not going to make her want to work with me. Personal interactions make professional contacts all the more easy to keep.

There's not a lot to it, but overall you just have to be smart when it comes to interacting with people who are higher up. Use the situations to your advantage while still holding your own. "Knowing a guy" is a stepping stone, not the key to a career.

 

Written by Colleen Cunha      Add a comment

Coffee Beans are everywhere, embrace it!

If you're in LA and you're still a little lost, here are a few comparisons to Ithaca that might make living in LA feel a bit more familiar.

LA Eats!

There are a lot of restaurants in LA, but here are a few that I've tried out that remind me of places back at school.

  • Poquito Mas = Moes. Poquito Mas is essentially a super chill Mexican place. They've got all kinds of stuff from tacos to burritos to tostadas. If you're feeling quick sit-down Mexican food, absolutely try it out.
  • Chipotle = Chipotle. For all you die-hard fans of the new Chipotle downtown in Ithaca, knock yourselves out with this exact same restaurant not even five minutes away from The Oakwoods.
  • Gala Thai = Taste of Thai. If you're looking for quick nearby delicious Thai food that can be delivered to your door, try gala thai. Their menu is straight forward and you can find them on GrubHub! It's less than 5 minutes from the apartments so it's not hard to swing in and pick food up either.
  • In 'N' Out = Five Guys. It's a fast food burger joint but it's a favorite fast food burger joint of many Californians. Although their fries are not as fantastic as those that come from Five Guys, the burgers themselves are quite fantastic. (There's also Big Boy, if you're into that)
  • Coffee Bean = Starbucks. Even though there are Starbucks around LA, you're more likely to stumble upon a Coffee Bean, and you should embrace it! The people that I've seen that work at Coffee Beans are far nicer and less pretentious than those at Starbucks (and their drink sizes are in English!)
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LA Shopping!

  • Target = Walmart. This might sound obvious, but take my advice- don't go looking for an easier place to shop than Target. It's cheap and nearby, so don't fight it, as much as you may miss Ithaca's own Walmart.
  • AMC = Cinemapolis/Regal. If you want to see a movie while you're in LA, and I'm sure you will, I recommend going to one of the many nearby AMCs. The faculty at the LA Center usually have discount passes that you can buy from them and the early shows at the theater can be as low as $6- take advantage of the cheap tickets! Go see a bunch of movies!
  • _________ = Wegmans. I'll admit it right now. Nothing in LA is as fantastic and wonderful as Wegmans- the all-encompasing grocery story/restaurant that you can tweet at and who at-replies you telling you what isle you should look in for taco seasoning. If you want something organic in LA, go Trader Joes. If you want EVERYTHING organic, go to Whole Foods. And if you want food and don't really care about how good it is for you, go to Ralph's.
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LA Campus!

  • Clubhouses = Fitness Center. Each end of the Oakwoods has a clubhouse, North or South, and inside there's a gym... but I use the term gym very loosely. There are a few machines and a couple TVs, but I recommend for exercise using the pools that are outside the clubhouses- swimming is the best form of west coast exercise.
  • Your Kitchen = Dining Hall. We have to learn to cook on your own sometime. Take advantage of living in an apartment if you've been on campus all your previous semesters! (Plus on Sunday's there is brunch in the clubhouse, so I guess that's kind of like the dining hall too.)
  • Pendleton = All The Classrooms. All the classrooms are in one place on the LA campus, which is convenient and close by. It's actually pretty nice, so enjoy it!
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  • Pendleton DVD Library = Library. Because come on, are you really going to rent books while you're in LA? Nope, you're gonna get DVDs. The center is in walking distance and has a ton of movies you can take out for a week at a time. It's one of the last physical renting places around! And it's free!
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That's all folks!  I hope that made it a bit clearer for you what it's like to live in LA after living in Ithaca for a few years. Although it's nothing alike at all, there's still a few places that bring fond memories of home (or, school I guess.)

 

Written by Colleen Cunha      Add a comment

Behind the Hollywood sign

So now you've been living in LA for a few weeks, you're taking classes and working hard at your internship--you deserve to have some fun. If, like me, you have never lived anywhere like LA before, here are some cool things you can do while you're here and have free time.

1. Go on some of the RA planned trips.

These RA planned trips are probably way cooler than the ones your RA planned at Ithaca, trust me. The RAs this semester have put together a lot of stuff, from beach day trips to people going to see The Book Of Mormon. With big groups like this you can usually get discount prices and things are always more fun with friends.

2. The teacher-planned trips aren't bad either.

The professors out here want you to have fun! During the first week almost all the ICLA students went to a taping of the sitcom Guys With Kids on a nearby lot (we were the laugh track for the first and fourth episodes!) We got to go to a The Price Is Right special Halloween taping and had reserved seats for us front and center. So you should really check those daily emails that the teachers send out for events like this!

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Ithaca College group at a The Price Is Right taping!

3. Late Night TV tapings.

Keep an eye out for free concerts and tapings for late night TV shows; they happen quite often and some big name bands perform a lot. A friend and I got to see the Avett Brothers for free when they were on Jimmy Kimmel's show. We waited in line for only about an hour and ended up in the very front row. And the best part was that it was free! No money? No problem!

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Front row at a free concert thanks to a nearby Jimmy Kimmel show taping.

4. Hiking rocks.

It really does. There are a lot of hiking trails nearby, especially in and around Griffith Park which is very close. Some friends and I drove up to the Sequoia National Forest as well. The drive was gorgeous and the hike itself wasn't half bad either. (It's a long drive but the places you drive through are breathtaking.)

5. Baseball games!

If you're a fan of sports at all, LA is a really cool city to go to a baseball game in. For less than $10 I was able to get my roommate and I tickets to see the Red Sox play against the A's. Though we were in the nosebleeds, the stadium was huge and really cool, and there were PLENTY of other Sox fans there. If baseball is your sport than I highly recommend it.

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Went to a very inexpensive Red Sox game with my roommate Lindsay Harrop! (Cinema and Photography '13)

6. Shakespeare in the park.

Also at Griffith Park is a Shakespeare in the Park group that performs quite often and presents a wide variety of Shakespeare's works. We saw A Comedy Of Errors and it was great, it doesn't cost anything, we were able to pack our dinner and have a picnic, and the actors are sincerely talented. If you like it you can go back as often as you like, it's always in the same place and if you get there early enough you can get a fantastic seat.

7. Amusement parks (duh)

Of course, you'll likely go to some amusement parts when you're here (teachers can usually get you discount tickets for these too!) Passes give you a whole two-days at the Universal Studios theme park and if you get a Six Flags ticket for the month of October you'll get to stay at the park after dark (until midnight) for "Fright Fest," where everything runs in the dark and haunted houses and mazes open up. I highly, highly recommend the October Six Flags Adventure -- it's fun, not terribly expensive if you get a pass through the school, and the only downside is that your legs might not love standing around all day... but it's worth it!

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Universal Studios tour!

 

Now if you say that you have nothing to do in LA, I'll know you're lying. There is plenty to do and the Facebook ICLA group generally has new daily invitations to comedy shows and big group events. There are a million ways to fill your time... enjoy!

 

Written by Colleen Cunha      Add a comment

Office worker shenenigans

No matter what kind of internship you're looking for, it's likely that you'll be in some kind of office environment at least a couple days a week. If you want to get far in the industry, you'll need to do your best to fill the responsibilities that are given to you as an intern. Here are some tips about how to stay on everyone's good side.

1. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.

If you want to be remembered and liked at your internship, when something needs to be done, volunteer to do it. Whether it's getting coffee, sending an email, proof reading something- always offer (unless you really think you're under-qualified, like don't offer to Photoshop something if you've never heard of Adobe.) But the more menial tasks you do without having to be asked, the more likely people are to trust you with bigger responsibilities.

Scheduling whiteboard in the production office

We create a schedule for the week every Sunday and divide up responsibilities- I volunteer for whatever I can!

2. Stand on your own.

If you're not the only intern at your place of internship, be careful to remember that the other interns don't have to be your equals. Your internship isn't a popularity contest, it's about getting work done, learning, and making a good impression on those above you (so I guess it might kind of be a popularity contest...) If other interns are slacking off or not working up to par, don't consider this an invitation to work to a lower standard- volunteer to pick up their slack, be the first to offer to do something that you know other aren't likely to do. Be the most eager! Your superiors will notice!

3. Be professional first.

My first day at my internship I went in dressed well, standing up straight, and referring to people very professionally. I met everyone in the office and I felt like I made a good first impression. The producer I spoke with first told me I could feel free to dress casually and pointed out that the office is a very low-key place. Since then I have taken to referring to people by whatever nickname they prefer, dressing a bit less formally, and participating in office shenanigans (only when I'm asked, of course.) If I had come in my first day assuming that the place was casual or acting too relaxed, I don't think the people I work with would have respected how serious I am about my experience. (Although how serious can you really be, working for a comedy web series, am I right?) I also did not jump right into adding my coworkers on Facebook or Twitter, even though some of them are people who under any other circumstances I might have. Some have since added me on their own accord and I've begun to develop friendships with those around me but as the intern, I didn't feel it was my place to try and initiate a friendship. I would recommend being professional until you get an idea of the office atmosphere, then be sure to be as appropriate as possible.

4. Talk to the people around you.

Everyone I work with knows that I'm new in town and interested in the entertainment industry. I've had movies and restaurants recommended to me from all over the place. And I've taken the recommendations! You want to be on good terms with those around you for sure. And these all came out of me asking their opinions. When someone asks me a question, I'll give them an answer. No one remembers a silent intern... (at least not fondly, unless you're interning at The Milford Academy

the Operation boardgame

Because I can talk to everyone that I work with, I was able to pitch an idea for a recent interview. We ended up using the questions I wrote and playing Operation, which was my idea!

5. Have opinions... but not bad ones.

If you're working in an environment like I am, where pitches are going on all the time for jokes or for projects or sketches, you need to have an opinion, because people will ask for it. Remember this when expressing your thoughts: constructive criticism is your friend and "I like it" is not a helpful critique. Try and point out what you find to be the strongest aspect of the thing and the weakest aspect; someone will thank you later if you point out a serious flaw in a project or plan (if they ask your opinion. Try not to be a brat about it or anything.)

6. Be accessible.

You might only intern three or so days a week but if you're the first to response to an email, phone call, or emergency text from your boss, he will notice! My number was added to a list of contacts when I first arrived and since then I've gotten a couple texts from my coworkers asking about meeting times or other people's phone numbers, and I pride myself on my ability to respond to texts quickly. This is when that talent comes in handy. Same thing with emails, if you have a smart phone, check your email regularly. You might be asked to volunteer for something and (see hint number one) if you can, you should! (If for some reason, like class, you can't help, be sure to reply saying that you're unavailable. It's responsible!) Going along these lines, if you're asked to go in early or stay late, do it. You're at the bottom of the totem pole but stuff like this is what's going to help you climb. Your boss didn't become your boss by ignoring company emails and strolling in late every day.

With all this in mind, still try to have fun at your internship. I am very luck that my work place is exactly my kind of atmosphere and I get along well with those around me. If you can do that, even if the company you intern at goes out of business tomorrow, you've made contacts who know your work ethic and your passion. Impress people and make a difference- if they miss you when you leave, they just might try and hire you some day.

 

 

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