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Monday, September 23, 2019
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Emerson Students Bring Fresh Perspectives to TV Networks

Three Emerson College students spent their summers interning at cable TV networks in New York and Washington, DC, through the T. Howard Foundation, a nonprofit that works to increase diversity in entertainment and the media.

Since its founding in 1994, more than 900 students of color have interned at networks, production companies, film studios, telecommunications companies, sports organizations, and publishers, where they gained not only paid professional experience, according to the foundation’s website, but also crucial networking opportunities in their chosen fields.

Emerson College Today asked the three Emerson interns about their experiences. Responses may have been edited for length and punctuation.

Name: Jess Morse ’16 (December)

Studying: Writing for Film and Television

Hometown: Stoughton, Massachusetts

Where did you intern?

Smithsonian Channel in Washington, DC

What were your responsibilities?

The other intern and I produced a short informational video about program deliverable specs for the channel’s production company partners. I also reformatted nonfiction scripts; reviewed program submissions for potential acquisition or commission; and updated the channel’s databases of filming locations, narrators, and production companies. Mostly, I archived a lot of DVDs.

What did you learn that most surprised you?

Not everyone in this industry went to college with TV or media in mind. Some of the non-editors in the post-production department have no post experience at all; I know more about editing than they do.

Toughest part of the job?

Sometimes the only task I’d have would be copying DVDs, which is pretty brainless work. You just have to buckle down, find a good Pandora station, and watch the progress bar crawl across the screen.

Most fun?

I went to a meeting with the development department and the executive producers where we discussed some recent show proposals. We talked about our impressions of the treatments, whether or not we thought the shows would work on the channel, and ways we could improve them. We also brainstormed topics that could broaden the channel’s audience (it’s mostly older white men).

What do you want to do after graduation?

Hopefully, I can get a job at another network or a production company, this time in scripted TV. Being a writer’s assistant would be amazing. I definitely want to enter the LA comedy scene.

Dream job?

I’d love to be the showrunner of my own sitcom.

Do you think this internship will help you get closer to that dream job, and if so, how?

The more I know about the industry, the better a showrunner I’ll be. This internship has been a great way to learn about nonfiction TV and how a network runs in general.

Name: Alex Johnson ’17

Studying: Cinematography

Hometown: East Brunswick, New Jersey

Where did you intern?

truTV [in New York]

What were your responsibilities?

As a creative services intern, I learned about how TV shows are promoted using on-air and print ad campaigns. I had the opportunity to sit in on brainstorms, develop concepts, write scripts, and curate pitches for campaigns. I also wrote episodic promo scripts for season 5 of the Impractical Jokers, screened promo spots for quality control, and transcribed spots for use as closed captioning.

What did you learn that most surprised you?

The most surprising part about working at a major television network was learning that there is a team that focuses solely on integrated promotional campaigns, advertising truTV shows and certain movies in the same spot.

Toughest part of the job?

It was difficult voicing a creative idea that I thought was great but not receiving the positive feedback I anticipated. I learned quickly how common this is in a creative setting, and that great, original ideas are hard to come by.

Most fun?

I love the truTV office, its creative culture, and the people who work there. Upon my arrival, I was welcomed with open arms by so many friendly, approachable people, and quickly felt like family. The environment is laidback but everyone knows when to get down to business.

What do you want to do after graduation?

Post-grad, I would love to be working at a creative agency; entertainment/media outlet (gaming, TV, movies, online publication); post-production house; production company; or even a tech company. I have a wide range of skills, interests, and experiences, so as long as I am putting my creative mind to use, I’ll be happy!

Dream job?

My dream is to be a media mogul by developing a new way for online creative communities to interact through elegant organization.

Do you think this internship will help you get closer to that dream job, and if so, how?

The more I learn about the creative and media landscape, the closer I get to coming up with that big idea. I’ve learned so much at truTV about how TV networks function, and I’m extremely grateful that the T. Howard Foundation gave me this opportunity to grow and shine.

Name: Doris Liang ’18

Studying: Production (Marketing Communications minor)

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Where did you intern?

truTV

What were your responsibilities?

I was in charge of updating production schedules from calendars sent to the network by production companies, requesting title clearances for new shows/episodes, and any type of research that was needed from the team.

What did you learn that most surprised you?

I learned that even in corporate America, there will be people [who] are willing to guide you and to teach you everything they know, just so you can succeed and go a little further. Everyone in the company was very welcoming, and everyone encourages the interns to go around and talk to other people and see what others do, instead of just sitting at your desk waiting for something to do.

Toughest part of the job?

The toughest part of the job was definitely keeping yourself busy. There are some days that are extremely slow, but that’s up to you to make use of your time at the company instead of just sitting around waiting for someone to give you something to do. Because of this, I really learned how to be more assertive in asking other departments if they needed help.

Most fun?

[G]etting the freedom to really get to know everyone at the network. Every week, I meet someone different and learn something new, and there is a sense of excitement I get after hearing about how people “make it,” and that makes me more confident in the career path I’m choosing.

What do you want to do after graduation?

I would want to work at a television network being in post-production management work, whether it be a production assistant or production coordinator; something that involves production management would be just fine for me.

Dream job?

My dream job is to be a wedding planner. I love weddings and I love planning, and I believe that there is something really magical and amazing about the entirety of it.

Do you think this internship will help you get closer to that dream job, and if so, how?

[D]efinitely…because I not only learn about production management at this internship, but I also learn how to communicate with people, how to make connections, and how to get the word out there about “This is what I want to do.”