From TV Intern to Associate Producer – How I Handled Life After College
The end of senior year of college can be a very scary time. It seems that there is a lot to do to prepare for life after college. You’re suddenly hit with the realization that you have to say goodbye to friends who will soon be scattered to their respective states or countries, that you won’t have any classes to structure your day, and most horrifyingly but most importantly that you will have to enter the “adult world.” One of the most important aspects of your initiation into the adult world is finding a job.
I utilized connections from my internships to land my first real job. As an aspiring television producer I interned at a handful of T.V. networks during my time in college.
Not all of my interning experiences were positive. I actually ended up quitting one of my internships on the first day because my only assignments were to wash an overflowing sink of dishes and to “clean those ants out of the broken espresso machine.” At the end of the day I left crying and then got lost in Chinatown. I’ve heard of “paying your dues,” but that was ridiculous.
While that experience was sub-optimal to say the least the internship gods redeemed themselves ten-fold my summer going into junior year. Over winter break of my sophomore year, my parents wouldn’t stop bugging me about applying for summer internships. I thought that it was way too early to apply but nonetheless I relented and sent my fledgling résumé out everywhere I could. (Side note: Now that I am a professional woman I can say that it’s 100% not too early to apply for summer internships in the winter – in fact, it’s PRIME TIME).
I eventually got a call back from Viacom and landed an internship at The N (a subsidiary of Nickelodeon – now called TeenNick). I am not afraid to admit that there was a significant amount of luck in my getting this opportunity but since I recognized my good fortune I was committed to making the most of it. During my internship I wrote scripts for programs that ended up on air, shadowed edit and audio sessions, and made connections with the amazing, creative people who worked there–and most importantly kept in touch with them after I left.
In your internship positions you want to make sure you get experience in your desired area of interest, meet people that do what you want to be doing, and show your enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. If an organization you worked for is looking for someone to hire they’ll remember you if you remember them. So be sure to stay in contact with former employers throughout the school year. Utilizing your networking is the key to jumpstarting your post graduate job hunt.
As I was nearing college graduation and preparing myself for the impending boredom of unemployment I got a voicemail from a woman named Cheryl who I vaguely remembered from my summer days at The N. She said “We’re looking to bring in a Production Assistant (PA) here at TeenNick, and we thought of you!”
A few days after I graduated I went in for an interview and got the job. What a RELIEF. While I did feel blessed I knew that if I had not kept in touch with them throughout my junior and senior years of college that I would not have received this opportunity.
I worked as a freelance PA for over a year and a half before I started worrying about adult (but also very important) things like “health insurance” and “a 401k.”
I bugged my boss on a weekly basis to hire me full time because I worked hard and was very good at my job. Given my work ethic and dedication to the company I believed I deserved the opportunity. So contrary to what women are expected to do in that position, I played hard ball; I threatened to leave the company if they would not hire me as a full-time employee. It was a risk to have done at such a young age but it paid off, as a few months later not only did I get on staff but I also got promoted to an Associate Producer.
As a result of that initial internship at The N I am currently working my post graduation dream job. (And, if we’re being honest I’m pretty ready for another promotion!) Don’t worry, life after college isn’t as scary as it seems. You’ll find a way to keep in touch with your friends, a hobby to replace schoolwork and yes you’ll even find a job. Get excited about this next stage of your life and the opportunities that await you.