— By Matthew Sawczyn —
This post is a continuation from Matthew’s first internship reflection here about his time at Skydance Media in Los Angeles.
How time flew. Getting up and leaving my internship desk for the last time, after four exhilarating, packed months, felt surprisingly bittersweet. I loved this company, I loved these people… they were my coworkers, my mentors. Arriving to work gave me joy. I couldn’t have asked for a better internship.
I truly hope you have the same experience. Getting that position is up to you. But, so you have an enjoyable time living and working in this sun-drenched town, here are a few no nonsense, two-cents tips, from a tenderfoot, just finished intern (so take them with a grain of salt). If I knew then what I knew now, as the saying goes. Here is my practical advice for you, JPCatholic students, as you start your journey:
1. You Probably Won’t Get A Job Immediately.
Sorry. That sounds harsh. The truth, though, is that you should not count on your awesome internship leading into a company position, no matter how small. It will lead to a position somewhere (there is a purpose to it), and is the first and necessary step on your entertainment path. But don’t expect that amazing company you’re interning for to offer any of their dozen interns something afterwards. If they do, great – you’ve hit the jackpot. Mostly, though, you will be interning alongside undergrads from Emerson, LMU, and USC, who are already on their third internship, well before they have that “BA” after their name. From the assistants I asked, the average path seemed to be 3-4 internships, then a position as a trainee assistant, then a full time desk. So, don’t be discouraged. This is not to sound bleak. Just know your dream career doesn’t come fast.
The Solution? Knock your internship out of the park, write fantastic coverage, proactively offer to help, find part time work that pays the bills, and apply to these temp companies (Act-1.com, 11thr.com, appleone.com), or postings on this website (EntertainmentCareers.net). They will hopefully get you working inside the studios, and enough of those temp positions on your resume will get you hired. Or, go the indie route. Don’t wait for permission – make your own content! Be creative, and find creative ways to create.
Speaking of those pesky bills…
2. You Will Be Broke.
Savor that sweet Escondido rent while you can, cause you can expect a huge mark up on everything when you get to LA. Rent, food, gas… One of the initial pieces of advice our internship coordinators gave us our first day was to budget, and that stuck. Kind of a weird word of wisdom to start the internship of with, but definitely one of the most practical. My monthly cost of living doubled after leaving Escondido (though, without weekday classes, you can work full days, so it balances out). Sites like Zillow or HotPads are a lifesaver for finding a place to live. And the further south you live, the cheaper the rent. Which leads to the next point…
3. You Will Commute An Hour, And You Will Like It.
Unless you wake up at 5am, your morning commute will generally tally 60-90 minutes long. Most internship sites are situated in the northern areas—Glendale, Santa Monica, Burbank—so look for housing in that area. Check Google Maps around rush hours times to get a gauge, and simply plan on that drive. Thankfully, I suppose, most internships end around 7pm, so the night traffic softens a bit. Change your pattern of driving to accommodate for sudden stops and walls of cars (i.e. drive slower), and you’ll be all set!
4. You Will Have Fun!
You will have “made it”. You will be living and working in Hollywood. You will tour studios and production companies, you will engage in creative discussions with executives, you will see the rare celebrity… You will literally work in the making of movies and television shows. Savor that! What seemed so unattainable a year ago will become commonplace to you, and that is amazing. Be thankful to God and your school for this opportunity, and make the best of it. Be humble about it. It will be amazing. I promise.
I hope these ambling bits of learned experience help in some way. Your path will differ; and with God’s grace, will lead to great things.
About the Author
Matthew Sawczyn is an alumni of the MBA in Film Producing program at John Paul the Great Catholic University.