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My Internship in Hollywood

Written by Meghan Swope

As I left the Ellen studios on the last day of my internship, I almost expected sad music to start playing in the background like some cliché reality show about a group of young twenty-somethings who move to L.A. to jump-start their careers.

But since MTV’s The Hills beat my classmates and me to the punch, the only evidence I have to chronicle the experience are the memories and stories--and tons of giveaways, press credentials, and photos. Best of all, these amazing experiences have also left me with a killer résumé.

My great internship -- make that internships (I scored two) -- came courtesy of IC’s Los Angeles program, an extension of the Roy H. Park School of Communications.

Each semester, and over the summer, up to 75 upperclassmen intern in the entertainment industry while taking courses taught by Ithaca College faculty and industry professionals at the James B. Pendleton Center. Here was my weekly routine:

Mondays and Thursdays: Fox Broadcasting Company
As an intern in the publicity department, I scheduled and facilitated press conferences and satellite media tours and helped out at publicity photo shoots for Glee and American Idol. I worked red-carpet events and premiere parties, like the American Idol Top 12 Party and the series finale wrap party for 24.

I also got to participate in publicity brainstorms for current programming and upcoming television series, and I wrote interview questions that were actually used in behind-the-scenes cast interviews!

Most of my friends know that I’m a huge “Gleek,” so you can imagine my excitement at meeting the entire cast, attending the taping of the season finale, and helping to staff the spring premiere soirée at the famous Chateau Marmont.

Wednesdays and Fridays: The Ellen DeGeneres Show
At Ellen, I spent three weeks in each of five departments: web, research, audience, human interest, and production.

In the web department, I tracked social media results on Facebook and Twitter, and vetted website comments and contests using Plugger.

In research, I spent my days clipping and filing articles and photos on virtually every person of interest in the world, which producers use to prep Ellen for interviewing her guests.


Audience was by far my favorite department. We’d call future audience members to confirm their attendance, then we’d head to the studio for that day’s taping. We’d seat the audience, dance in the Riff Raff room with overflow guests (who’d watch on big-screen TVs), and distribute all of the many giveaways.

Human interest had me constantly searching for uplifting stories about everyday people, from extremely talented kids to a brave nanny who rescued a young boy from a terrible house fire. I’d invite them to the show, then greet them and give them a tour of the studio.

Production was kind of a catchall -- we’d do just about anything the producers and production assistants needed done, from working in wardrobe to delivering mail to helping out in one of the other four departments.

Tuesdays: Classes at the Pendleton Center
One day a week for class? Well, classes here meet just one day a week to accommodate internship schedules. Some students even intern five days a week and take classes in the evenings. Tough, yes. But totally worth it.

Most faculty and staff at the Pendleton Center also work (or used to work) in the entertainment industry, so you’re not just learning, you’re networking. Take my Writing for Public Relations professor: As a publicity director for NBC Universal, she has tons of real-world experience (and connections -- she scored tickets for my classmates and me to go to a taping of the newly revived Tonight Show with Jay Leno).

In addition to its faculty resources, the Pendleton Center has a computer lab, a film screening room, and a media library with hundreds of movie and television titles on DVD, original scripts, and trade magazines for student use.

Evenings and Weekends: Fun!
What kind of fun? Let’s see . . . a day at Universal Studios, a hike to the Hollywood sign, a taping of The Price Is Right, a Dodgers game, cookouts, and a luau at the Oakwood Apartment complex (where all ICLA students live).


Heard of some cool thing to do in L.A., or a cause you’d like to get a team together to support? Simply suggest it to the Pendleton Center staff and they usually make it happen. That’s how my classmates and I participated in Relay for Life and Walk Now for Autism Speaks, attended various comedy shows, and held a bonfire on the beach.

End of the Semester: Bittersweet!
It was tough to say goodbye to these two amazing internships. I learned a great deal, got to work and network with A-list Hollywood talent, producers, and publicists, and came away with an awesome résumé. These experiences and connections I’ve made could even lead to a job after graduation -- it’s happened for many former ICLA students.

In the end, the occasional 14-hour days and my two-hour 10-mile commute to Fox in the notorious L.A. traffic were well worth it.





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