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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

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.


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.


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.

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