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Students Make Most of LA Summer

seven students take selfie atop Griffith Park
Summer 2021 ELA students take a selfie after hiking to Griffith Park. From left: Jillian Kay ’23, Kevin Desnoyers ’23, Shawn Zappala ’23, Ashley Blanco ’22, Angie Pham ’23, Helina Yared ’22, and Serge Ganthier ’22.

Twenty-two students experienced the sunshine and beaches of LA while spending the Summer 2021 semester at Emerson LA, the first cohort to live in the building since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“Being able to meet the other people at ELA this semester has been really cool because there aren’t too many of us, and we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well,” said Katelyn Torlincasi ’21, who is interning at the production house Abstraction Media. “There are a lot of us who’ve seen each other in passing but have never gotten to know each other. We all come back from our internships in the evening and hang out, watch a movie, or talk about all the different things that we’re doing.”

With COVID-19 creating unprecedented challenges, the Summer 2021 LA Program was offered to students unable to attend ELA in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021, rising juniors and seniors interested in the opportunity (including those whose majors may not have been traditionally represented at ELA), and students seeking to spend a longer time in Los Angeles.

Though many students enjoyed exploring LA, the coronavirus pandemic, and a rise in cases due to the Delta variant, continues to have an impact on the city. Many students interned remotely or under a hybrid schedule. ELA currently is under an LA County mandate requiring masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. And LA City Council is currently considering proposals requiring COVID-19 vaccination proof as a condition of entering certain indoor public spaces.

Owen Krisak ’22 transferred to Emerson right when the pandemic hit, so he hadn’t had an opportunity to connect with many Emersonians in person. He wanted to do the LA Program to see if the city is a place where he’d want to live. 

“I’m from a very rural town in Vermont, so LA is obviously very different,” said Krisak, an intern at Robby Fontana Live this semester. “I was honestly scared; ‘This is gonna be too crazy.’ But I’ve definitely gotten used to it. This is a place I’d be comfortable living in someday. Emerson having a space in LA makes it such an easy transition into the city.”

Group of students pose for photo on ELA terrace.
Emerson LA students hang out on the fifth-floor terrace at ELA.

The LA Program has given many students the chance to experience what it’s like to live and work in the City of Angels. 

“I wanted to come because I knew that it would give me an opportunity to see what life is like in LA and to try and make connections as well. I’ve never been on the West Coast,” said Jay Osgood ’22, an intern at the film laboratory and post-production studio FotoKem. “I plan to come back in the spring.”

Osgood is one of 11 ELA students participating in the Emtern Summer Experience, a program that offers current students the opportunity to connect with in-depth professional support while pursuing a summer internship in either Boston or LA. The program provides students with on-campus accommodations, as well as a required professional development series organized by Emerson College’s Board of Advisors. The experience was designed as a way to support students completing low-paying or unpaid internships with Boston and Los Angeles-based employers.

As part of the Emtern program, students came together for biweekly dinners where they learned about hidden gems in LA, bonded over shared experiences, and gained advice on topics like expanding networking opportunities and building a community.

“The dinners were really nice because we got a wide variety of information and were able to meet other interns as well,” said Eric Pinch ’22, one of four Emerson interns at City Drive Studios this semester.

As part of his internship, Pinch has been able to learn about the post-production process and even edit some content for City Drive. A basketball player, Pinch said he would have been unable to experience a semester at ELA without the summer program.

women hold mic in front of MTV Movie X TV Awards logo
Jillian Kay ’23 and Ashley Blanco ’22 at the MTV Movie & TV Awards. 

Yes They CAN

Pinch and all of the other summer students at ELA participated in the Career Advisory Network (CAN) program, a unique opportunity for currently enrolled ELA students to build personal connections within the LA alumni network to better prepare them for careers beyond Emerson. 

“I learned so much so much from my advisor, Marcos,” said Meghan Montminy ’22, an intern at Bagg Street Productions and Barry Katz Entertainment. Montminy’s CAN advisor is Marcos Gonzalez ’16, a writer on the Saved by the Bell reboot. “I’ve asked him for advice on stuff, and he even offered to give us feedback if we wanted to send him writing samples. It was cool to meet all the other advisors as well.”

In addition to the CAN program, a bevy of other experiences enabled the summer cohort to build connections and explore the city. A hike to Griffith Park, a fire pit gathering with recently graduated alumni, cooking demonstrations, and other programs helped bring the students together. One of Elizaveta Kaminski’s favorite programs was a Career Roadmapping Workshop.

“I loved this program because I kind of know myself better after participating in it. I have a better picture of who I want to be and what I should do, as well as much better knowledge about the industry,” said Kaminski ’22, an intern at the entertainment company Stampede Ventures.

For Angie Pham ’23, a semester in LA was a godsend. She had initially planned to travel back home to Vietnam for the summer, but COVID-19 caused the country to close its borders. Without the Emtern program, she’s unsure what she would have done. As an intern at Civitas LA, a podcast featuring diverse and emerging voices in LA’s civic conversation, Pham was able to create a database of sponsors, conduct research, work on social media, and reach out to potential guests.

“I didn’t plan to go to LA, but I got the chance and I’m grateful for that,” said Pham, who has enjoyed tasting the different cuisines in the city and participating in cooking demonstrations. 

Something for Every Interest

Serge Ganthier ’22, an intern at the Nacelle Company, hit up LA studios and connected with Emerson alumni in the music industry. Victoria Interiano ’23, one of three interns at Andrew Bear’s (’12) production company Hyperion LA, said she had the best time going on test shoots and location scouting for the company. She’d recommend the program to other Emersonians.

“You don’t have to wait for your senior year to get the LA experience under your belt,” said Interiano, who was able to visit Northern California during the semester. “The LA program is a great way to get ahead of the game. Everything is a learning experience out here. You learn the inner workings of the city.”

Jillian Kay ’23, one of the interns at City Drive, was able to work on various video shoots, including one for a concert by DJ and producer Illenium in Las Vegas. Kay and Ashley Blanco ’22 attended the Billboard Music Awards and MTV Movie & TV Awards. For her birthday, Blanco went skydiving.  

“[Skydiving is] kind of an analogy to get over my own fears,” said Blanco, who had two internships this semester, one at Athletes Journey and another at Dave Chappelle’s producer’s production company, Magic Lemonade Productions. “If I can jump out of a plane, I can do a 10-minute interview.”

As the summer semester wraps up, a few students plan to return to LA for a future semester. Torlincasi is staying in the city to participate in the LA Program in the fall. The Emtern experience allowed her to take advantage of the opportunities in LA and become familiar with the city without the stresses of a regular semester.

“LA is beautiful. I’m in a location where I feel safe and comfortable in an environment where I’ve done well. I’ve had a lot of fun here,” said Torlincasi. 

woman jumps from airplane while holding on to other diver
Ashley Blanco ’22 during her tandem skydive.
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