The Emerson Los Angeles program provides you with robust opportunities to gain practical industry experience and knowledge through Internships as well as Transitional Services, which help prepare you for your post-graduate careers. The purpose of the internship is to provide you with a valuable experiential learning experience toward your continued development as a professional in your field. Experiential learning – that is, learning through practical, professional experience combined with meaningful, critical analysis of that experience – is essential to your semester at ELA. Transitional Services provides support to students transitioning to living and working in Los Angeles through one-on-one appointments, professional development programs, and a host of other career-related resources.
While here at ELA, you will be enrolled in the academic internship course in your major and will participate in an on-site internship that will provide a foundation for the academic work you will complete for the course. All internships will be done for either 4 or 8 credits and will be included in your overall semester credit total (12-16). Whether on-site or virtual, internships done through the ELA program must be performed for academic credit and under the supervision of a professional. While the ELA internship staff is available to guide and coach you throughout the internship search process, it is your responsibility to secure an internship.
Preparing for Your Internship Search
In order to maximize your internship, you have to put some time into planning your semester and identify what would make it an amazing experience.
- Identify the skills you want to develop or enhance during your internship. Think about the realistic post-graduation entry-level positions you’re likely to apply for and identify what skills and experiences are required for those positions. This will guide your search and lead to a more meaningful experience.
- Get to know people who are doing things you’re interested in doing. Use LinkedIn as a way to connect with Emerson alumni that live in the LA area. You’re objective when reaching out is not to have them help you find an internship, it is to learn more about what they do and how they got there. This insightful information is another way to guide your internship search.
Develop Strong Application Materials
All internship positions will require a resume and the majority will also ask for a cover letter. It is critical that you spend time in advance of your search developing a solid resume and learn how to write an effective cover letter. These similar yet very different documents will determine if you are given the opportunity to meet with someone to interview.
Resume: There are many ways to format a resume but also a standard approach that should be followed. For information and samples on how to create a resume, please check out the resources page of the Emerson Career Development Center’s website called CareerBuzz. If you’re interested in starting with a resume template, you can check out the hundreds of resume templates on Canva. Keep in mind that a template is just a starting point and if you use one, and a lot of people do, try to change the design a little to personalize it and make it your own.
The ELA internship staff also makes the following specific recommendations that will help you with your internship search:
- One Page Only. A resume with more than one page is likely to get thrown out.
- Remove Your Photo. Employers do not want to give the perception that they may base hiring decisions on physical appearance.
- Focus on Job Descriptions. This is the heart and soul of your resume and what the reader will often read first. There is no paragraph writing on a resume so they need to be in a concise, yet detailed, bulleted format.
- Education Should Be Very Prominent. You are applying to positions that require you to be enrolled in a degree-seeking program so your Education has to be prominently displayed.
Conducting Your Search
When conducting your search, you first need to know where to look. Consider all of these resources as you search:
Handshake: Your primary resource for finding internship opportunities is Handshake. Each semester there are over 300 internship opportunities from the LA area are posted on Handshake and these employers are actively seeking Emerson students. When searching in Handshake, avoid using a lot of filters that will exclude opportunities that might be a good fit. For example, only search for “internships” in “Los Angeles” and then sort it by date posted. This will always give you a comprehensive list of all internships in LA.
Online Searches: There is so much useful information online that may help you identify amazing opportunities.
- Bookjobs.com: Site for those interested in the publishing industry
- CA Arts Council: State-sponsored site for the promotion of the arts
- EntertainmentCareers.net: Opportunities in film, television, studios, music and animation
- Fashionjobs.com: Resource for the fashion, luxury and beauty industry
- Idealist.org: Directory of non-profit organizations
- Indeed.com: Comprehensive job and internship search site
- Internships.com: Largest student-focused internship marketplace
- Malakye.com: Specializes in outdoor and lifestyle industries
- Workinsports.com: Comprehensive database of jobs/internships in the sports industry
- Productionhub.com: Resource for production/post-production professionals
Networking/Referrals: Cultivating professional relationships is critical in your professional development. We encourage you to use LinkedIn to connect with Emerson alumni who live in the Los Angeles area who are doing things you’re interested in. Find out more about what they do, what they did to get there and ask their advice for what would make for a great internship experience. If you, or your family, knows people connected to your professional interests, we encourage you to reach out to them as well. Keep in mind that building relationships takes time so when reaching out to someone online who you don’t have an existing relationship with, the focus should not be on them helping you get an internship. Keep the focus on learning more about their experiences.
Conducting your internship search can sometimes feel like a part-time job and you’ll need to incorporate your search until your schedule. We encourage you to start your search early as waiting until your arrival in Los Angeles will mean missing out on some great opportunities.
The average number of applications an ELA student submits is 16 while the average number of interviews received is only 3. There is no specific number of how many applications you should submit but it is highly recommended that all students cast a very wide open net during the application phase. Never stop sending out applications until you have formally accepted an offer.
Always make sure to follow an employer’s specific instructions when reading a position description. For example, if you see a description on Handshake and the instructions state “Please submit your resume to intern[@]company.com” then you only send your resume to the email address they provided. Not all employers have the same application process so pay close attention to their specific instructions.
The purpose of submitting a resume and a cover letter is to get the opportunity to meet with the employer and talk about the position in more detail. This is essentially your audition. Like any audition, you need to come prepared. Please see CareerBuzz for very useful interview guidelines. In addition to the attached guide, here are some additional tips and suggestions for the ELA internship interview:
Video/Phone Interviews: The majority of all your interviews for ELA will be done via video or telephone. It's important you familiarize yourself with all video chat platforms such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Appear In, etc. Do not wait until the last minute to figure out how to use these online platforms. If it goes wrong, they may not give you a second chance.
Research: Gather information about the company as employers view the research that you've done as a reflection of your interest. If you're interviewing at a production company you should know what content they've produced and be prepared to talk about it. Check out LinkedIn and see if there are any Emerson alumni that are working or have worked where you will be interviewing.
Prepare Questions: This is the most important part of your interview, especially if you cannot conduct your interview in person. It is critical that you go into each interview with a list of questions to ask. This is a major way to get information about the opportunity. It is never ok to not ask questions and plays a huge part in not only their evaluation of you but also your evaluation of the opportunity.
Voicemail: Make sure that your cell phone can receive voicemail messages and that you have a very professional voicemail greeting. Most employers will call you on the phone to schedule an interview and they need to be able to leave a message if you don’t answer.
Practice: Successful interviewing is a craft and it is essential that you practice. Schedule an appointment with the Career Development Center Advisor in Boston or the Internship staff in ELA if you would like to prepare for any upcoming interviews.
Send a Thank You Note: After each interview, make sure you have the names and contact information of everyone you spoke with and take a minute to make a few notes about the experience so that you can customize your thank you note to each individual interviewer. All thank-you notes should be sent within 24 hours of the interview.
Follow-up: After you've sent the thank-you note, it is a matter of patiently waiting. If you have not heard anything after the time period they said you would, it’s ok to send a follow-up and ask for an update; however, do not send a follow-up if it is still within the timeframe they gave.
Evaluating & Accepting An Offer
As you go through the internship search journey, you’ll discover that it is not a perfect process. Employers will not all make their decision at the same time and you will not have all your options in front of you when you need to make a decision.
Before you accept any offer, it’s important you take the time to evaluate the opportunity. Does it check off all of your boxes? If not, which ones does it not check off and are you ok with that? What kind of environment will you be working in and who will you be working with? Do they complement your working style or does it conflict? You need to be able to answer all of the above in order to make an informed decision. Here are a few tips to help you navigate through this process:
Determine Deadline/Ask for an Extension: The first thing to do when receiving an offer is to respond and say thank you. Next is to find out how long you have before you need to make a decision. If their deadline is too soon for you, it is ok to ask for an extension. Be ready to give them a date and don’t expect them to give you until the start of the semester. Assess your situation and come up with an estimated date on when you think you will be able to make a decision. The employer may or may not give you an extension but then at least you’ll have a definitive date of when you have to make a decision.
Don’t Accept an Offer as a Placeholder: Understandably, your first reaction may be to accept an offer. You’re excited and relieved that you have secured something - this is totally understandable. However, please do not accept an offer as a placeholder and continue to search. There are a lot of negative consequences that can result from doing this such as negatively impacting your professional reputation and the relationship between Emerson and the employer, which may impact future ELA students.
Speak With Former Interns: The best place to get candid information is to speak with the people who were in the position you’re considering. They will give you the good, the bad, and the ugly. The best place to find Emerson alums at a particular company is LinkedIn where you can filter a search and look for Emerson alumni in the LA area or alumni that work for a particular company. You may also want to reach out to the internela [at] emerson.edu (ELA internship) staff so see if they can connect you to former ELA students who interned at the sites you’re interested in.
Ask For Help: If you are at all unsure what you should communicate with an employer, ask! It’s ok to let them know you need to get back to them and give yourself some time for formulating a message. The ELA internship staff is here to help you through this process so please contact them if you need help developing a communication strategy with an employer.