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Thursday, November 14, 2019
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Entertainment internships focus of alumni talk

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Los Angeles alumni discuss the value of internships with Emerson LA students on January 13. In this photo are Stephen Christy '07, Nick Zalucki '10, Brittany Martin '10, Dawn Steinberg '82, Paul Morra '95, and Jhanvi Motla '14. (Photo by Daryl Paranada) 

Six successful alumni offered internship advice during a panel discussion for students at Emerson College Los Angeles on January 13.

The panel, called “Your Internship, Your Future,” was held during Orientation Week for Spring 2015 students. The panelists were: Dawn Steinberg ’82, executive vice president, U.S. talent and casting, at Sony Pictures Television; Paul Morra ’95, owner and president of Swift River Productions; Stephen Christy ’07, president of development at BOOM! Studios; Brittany Martin ’10, producer at The Voice; Nick Zalucki ’10, coordinator of digital marketing at NBC Universal; and Jhanvi Motla ’14, assistant to Max Mutchnick ’87, co-creator of Will & Grace and Emerson Trustee.

For many panelists, a common theme arose of getting into the industry by any means possible.

Christy said his career began as an assistant producer in reality TV before a comic book company he once interned for gave him a big break.

Zalucki said the job he currently holds didn’t exist five years ago, telling students they needed to be adaptable.

Martin said she was unemployed for a couple of months, working on live shows, before she started making connections that led to her current job.

“You go through a phase where you think: will I take anything?” said Martin, who told students it was important that they make an impact when interning. 

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Brittany Martin '10 answers questions from students. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)

As the youngest panelist at the event, Motla said she felt lucky to even be included. Motla shared with students—many of whom she took classes with—her story of moving to Los Angeles in May with neither a car nor an apartment. She recalled sending out hundreds of resumes and feeling dejected, ready to move back home to India. Soon after, she landed a job working for Mutchnick. 

“If you really want to do this, you just have to believe,” said Motla, who told students that her job as an assistant never really ends.

Steinberg and Morra, who both employ interns, said students should listen, ask questions, get involved, and go beyond.

“You become invaluable to me when you make my life a little easier,” said Steinberg.

Morra added that students should dress to impress and know their place. Over the years, Morra said that more than 70 Emerson interns have worked for his company. He said he has noticed that as the years have gone by, students have made less of an impression, relying too much on technology to communicate and network.

“Build rapport. Make connections. Show personality,” Morra told students. “You have to put in the work to make it in this industry.”

At the end of the panel, students were able to get face time with each of the panelists, putting into practice their networking skills.

Laura Wu ’15, a Visual and Media Arts major, said that going above and beyond was one of the key takeaways she would remember from the panel when she begins her internship at the Art Directors Guild.

“I thought the panel was really informative,” said Wu. “I now know things that I should focus on.”

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Laura Wu '15 and Jhanvi Motla '14 after the internship event. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)