By Jemima Lopez
After months of submitting applications and not hearing back from anywhere, I finally landed the most educational, hands-on internship I could have ever imagined — and all I had to do was show up.
During the months following my college graduation, I tried desperately to find an internship with a film studio. Living in Houston my options were limited, but that didn’t stop me from applying to every program I’d ever heard of all across the country.
Feeling rather satisfied with myself for so ambitiously sending out applications, I dutifully waited for the call or email informing me of my acceptance. But the call never came.
I had nearly given up when I decided that I hadn’t exhausted every possibility. So I started looking for local programs. There was very little in the way of film internships around town, but there were a few studios, so I called them and asked if they’d be interested in having me on as a non-paid intern.
Most places admired my enthusiasm and resourcefulness, and though almost all of them said they didn’t have room for an intern, they all remembered my name and said they’d talk to others about my request.
Eventually it paid off, both figuratively and literally. I soon got a call from a local director who referred me to a gaffer that would be willing to take me on and train me. Plus, the director said, he’d even pay me (occasionally). All I had to do was meet the gaffer on the set he was lighting. Right that moment.
So I bolted out of my room and met him there. When I introduced myself, he said, “So you’re the young person everybody’s been talking about.” I was stunned. People were talking about me. This gaffer knew who I was.
He said he would train me and thus began the best internship I’d ever had. I met sports and culinary celebrities, learned more about the industry and technology I was using than I could have ever learned in a standard “studio intern” position. And I did get paid occasionally.
The moral of the story? Don’t be discouraged when you don’t hear back from internship programs. In fact, plan not to hear back from them. Be resourceful and aggressive in your search. Introduce yourself to as many major players as you can, and get your name out there. Don’t let a piece of paper speak for you. Get on the phone and start introducing yourself. Take people to lunch. Do whatever it takes and the opportunities will find you.