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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

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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