MBA Journal: Internship

Focused on the Entertainment 'Biz'


Well, let's start with the good news: I got a job offer. Was it the kind of offer that the career center at UCLA's Anderson School of Management (Anderson Full-Time MBA Profile) would tout in its statistics? No, not really. You see, I have friends at school who toiled away in consulting, finance, and marketing this summer, all with the hope that during their last week of work they'd have that ever important sit-down with their supervisors when they're asked to return and labor yet again for the company, except this time as an actual employee, rather than as an intern. That's the kind of offer business schools love, and congrats to all those pals who had that conversation. Both your school and I are very proud.

I, on the other hand, am focused on the entertainment industry. In the "biz," as we like to call it, there is no slot open, waiting for you when you graduate next year. Jobs primarily open up when someone leaves (either the position itself or this earth, I suppose). It's all really a matter of luck, timing, connections, and maybe a dash of actual skill and talent in the end. The point being, I did not get a job offer for next year. Instead, my supervisors asked me if I'd like to come back and continue during the winter. The career center may pat me on the back for that one, but it sure doesn't help the center's numbers.

Since many entertainment internships are unpaid, you may be thinking that such an invitation isn't that amazing. "Wow, you've been asked to return and work for free, awesome!" Naturally, as my luck would have it, some sort of legislation recently went through and now Fox (where I interned this summer, apologies for not mentioning that earlier) will begin compensating interns next semester. Of course, I'd already spent two semesters there working gratis, but hey, now that they have to put their money where their mouth is, I must say, I was kind of flattered. Personally, though, I'm a bit wary of this policy. While I'm all for interns getting paid, I'm not sure whether the companies will still require that students receive credit from their school to work (this is how they got around paying us in the first place). If they do not, I don't see any reason why a conglomerate wouldn't target out-of-work or part-time professionals who have experience instead of students. From what I read in the news, I think there may be just a few of those kinds of people available right now, especially in the entertainment industry.

Television Internship

But I digress. How was the internship with Fox Broadcasting's Audience Intelligence & Research Strategy department? Not too shabby. Each day, I would compile and analyze reports based on data sent from the kind people at Nielsen research. The amount of information they track on a day-to-day basis truly is staggering. I could look, quite literally, at how television viewers were watching programming on a minute-by-minute basis. You could easily tell, for instance, when The Bachelorette went to commercial and its competition suddenly had more viewers. Then the commercials ended and The Bachelorette's numbers returned to their norm (disclaimer: I've never watched The Bachelorette. The Bachelor, though … haven't seen that either). It really makes me wonder why advertisers even bother to pay for commercial time anymore, but that's an entirely different discussion. There was also the nice perk that all the broadcast networks' pilots came through my department, so I had the opportunity to see much of what will be premiering this fall. I'm afraid I cannot divulge, though, what shows to watch and which will be a waste of your time.

So, it was a summer of learning more about the television industry, but without a clear future goal in mind. And that's mainly because, as I alluded to above, the future is very murky in entertainment; many of the entertainment-focused second-years who just graduated are still looking for work or are interning. It's hard to marry oneself to one function because, come June 2011, who knows if a job will be there? These internships, then, primarily offer the opportunity to gain knowledge and hopefully impress and meet the people who will be willing to put their neck on the line if there happens to be one of those openings. In that sense, I think I had a rather successful summer.

And in the meantime, before all this comes to a head next summer after graduation, I'm a mere 48 hours from departing for my quarter abroad in Melbourne, Australia, at Melbourne Business School. I'm incredibly excited and, for all we know, it may be such a great experience that the career center administrators may not have to worry about an offer for me because I may just up and decide not to return … but I'll probably see them in January.

Jonathan_stern
Jonathan Stern is enrolled in the full-time MBA program at the University of California at Los Angeles' Anderson School of Business with an expected graduation of 2011. Earning his undergraduate degree in U.S. history at Columbia University in 2003, Stern was laid off from his journalism job at MTV Radio in December 2008 while he was already in the process of applying to graduate business school.

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