Why Internships are the Key to Success in Entertainment Jobs

internships essential to your success

If you want a real career after college you better start interning… now!

Ready to have your mind blown?

Almost half of employed U.S. college graduates are currently working jobs that require less than a four-year education. Matter of fact, 37% are working jobs that require no more than a high school diploma.

Considering the average cost of a modest four-year private school education is $173,156, working a job after graduating that didn’t really require a degree qualifies as an unbridled nightmare.

But there is good news to counteract the bad. Statistics also show that those who learn more, earn more with average salaries of a high school graduate being just $33,801 but those with a bachelor’s degree are almost double at $55,656.

Confused yet? This is starting to sound like health research where everything seems to cause cancer… but you can’t live without eating it.

The truth is, those who make the most out of their education are making the most money and those who cruise through just happy to graduate are working at the mall.

It’s time to evaluate how you plan to make something out of your education, and the best way is through interning.

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It’s Your Best Chance at Landing a Job

According to a study by Internships.com almost 70% of companies, with 100 or more employees, offered full-time jobs to their interns in 2012. Digest that for a second and really think about how you want to spend your extra time while in college.

“Of our new hires, I’d say about 90% were former interns,” says former CNN Intern Coordinator John Little, “what made those people get hired was that they proved themselves and we knew that they could be relied upon to take the next step without becoming a liability.”

An employer gets a first-hand look at:

internships are the new job interview

Internships are the new job interview explains Dr. Bill Sutton from the University of South Florida

  • How you perform tasks
  • Your work ethic and attitude
  • Your overall professionalism
  • How you mesh with the team already in place
  • How you handle problems creatively

According to Dr. William A Sutton, professor and director of the University of South Florida Sport and Entertainment Management program, internships represent the new job interview.

“An internship is an audition for an employment opportunity – this is the opportunity for the student to take what they have learned in the classroom and what they learn during the internship to demonstrate what the employer could expect from if they were hired in a full time role.”

Internships Give You the Power

Learning who you don’t want to be can be just as valuable as finding your dream path.

I began my college career as a chemistry and biology double major, but my first internship, locked in a lab, proved to me I was meant for something different.

That is exactly why internships are so valuable, they show you what it’s really like in the workforce and can either reaffirm a passion or head you down an alternative path.

“When I was 17, I thought  I would probably go to law school and someday be a lawyer,” reminisces NFL Network producer Alex Brady, “but I loved sports and I loved writing so I got an internship with my favorite sports writer who said I could follow him around as he reported on the Philadelphia Flyers.”

“My first night we went to a game and I sat in the press box,” continues Brady, “I just knew that the idea of going to law school was completely over with.”

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Internships Build Self-Confidence

Look around you, that person who looks on top of the world without a care to be found actually has just as many doubts about their life as you do.

You are not alone, everyone has fear especially as they approach the end of college and the beginning of career. Am I good enough? Do I know enough? Is everyone else more qualified?

This is healthy and normal, but an internship can help show that you are ready to compete.

“Internships grow students in terms of self-confidence,” adds Sutton. “As they realize ‘I can do this’ it motivates and completes the educational cycle of higher education.”

Internships Expose You to Reality

There is little accountability in the college environment. You can often get away with skipping class if you oversleep, or put in a half effort and still walk away with a ‘B’ grade.

The real world is different, you live day in and day out with deadlines, accountability, pressure and if you don’t do your best, you can be fired.

“I think it’s critical for students to get experience in the ‘real world’ covering events and having the experience of working on deadline,” adds Tim Franklin Bloomberg News Managing Editor/Washington.

If you want to make the best possible impression in your new reality:

worlds greatest intern

This is not the type of clothes we suggest you wear on your internship

  • Don’t show up in bar clothes, you’re entering a professional environment, look the part
  • Listen well, your intern coordinator doesn’t want to repeat instructions because you were day-dreaming of your trip to the beach that weekend
  • This isn’t social hour. There will be other interns from different schools that are worth getting to know, just do it outside of intern hours.
  • Finish your tasks on time and with attention to detail. It doesn’t matter what you are assigned, do it to the best of your ability.

The hands-on experience you gain on an internship will far outweigh the majority of what you accomplish in the classroom. The new reality of being hired is “what can you do for me?”. Internships teach you skills you can bring to your employment search.

Internships Build Your Professional Network

I really don’t like the cliche, “it’s not what you know but who you know” but there is some truth to it. When you are in college the only people you get to know are your professors and they have limited networks, since many no longer work in the industry. Your internships will provide you with access to people actively working who can become your career advocates.

“I was lucky enough to intern for Curt Menefee, the host of FOX NFL Sunday, when he was still a local sports guy in Dallas. He has certainly helped me in many aspects of my career,” says TV Producer Missy Moore. “You never know where some of the people you intern for might end up and what other doors they might open for you.”

Take notes of every person you have contact with during your internship, get their contact information and consider them a part of your network.

Reach out and thank them personally for something they taught you during your time, showing appreciation is a sure fire way for someone to remember you positively.

Final Thought

I interview entertainment industry folks all the time as part of my job as Director of Content for WorkinEntertainment.com and I always ask, what advice would you give someone who wants to work in your field.

The answer is almost always the same, but I think radio host Shellie Hart put it best, “Get an internship ASAP!  When you get it, become known as the ‘yes’ person, willing to learn and do everything.”

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


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