Internships are a central part of the VPA LA Semester. Internships provide students with real-world experiences and valuable insight into the entertainment industry. Interns learn entry-level skills, become exposed to professional environments, make connections, and develop tools that will aid them as young professionals.
How will I get an internship?
The VPA LA Semester staff partners with students to ensure they secure an internship for the semester. All students are required to have a one-on-one Zoom meeting with the VPA LA director to discuss areas of interest and potential internship placement. Students will be required to submit their resume to the director before this meeting. All students should set up an appointment with Niki Swackhamer, career advisor in VPA’s Office of Academic and Career Advising, to go over resumes before submitting them to the director. Schedule an appointment with Niki.
Students should begin by researching internship opportunities online. Major media companies have formal internship programs with a variety of internships. These positions are very competitive, and it is in the best interest of the student to immediately apply for any openings that are of interest. These opportunities are posted as they become available, so it is important to check frequently:
- Walt Disney Company
Click Search Jobs, then filter by United States & Canada, California and Job Type-Internship
Click Find Jobs (top left), then filter by United States, California, Universal City and Intern
- Discovery Communications
Spring semester only
Click on Internship Programs, United States
- Fox Network
- DreamWorks Animation
- Sony Pictures Entertainment
- Starz Network
- Warner Music Group
- Universal Music Group
- Sony Music Group
The Entertainment Careers website is updated daily. Scroll past the “member only” buttons—you do not need to pay any internship site for access to internships. However, you can if you wish, sign up for a three-month membership for $25. The first month has been discounted to $4.95, and you can cancel at any time.
Click on the magnifying glass icon on the home page. Narrow your search by selecting Internship and entering CA for the state. You can also enter a keyword. When applying, do not click on the Apply Online button. Instead, apply via the email address provided just above the apply online button. Please note that EntertainmentCareers.Net uses "disposable" email addresses and they change frequently.
VPA LA staff will also post current internship opportunities and provide students with information regarding internships based on their expressed area of interest. Students will receive a job description, an overview of responsibilities and instructions on how to apply. This is not a guarantee of placement or acceptance. Students will be responsible for sending their résumés and cover letters, securing interviews, and securing the internship. (In addition to reviewing your resume, the VPA Office of Academic and Career Advising can assist you with interview preparation and cover letter reviews.)
Students should also research opportunities at companies of interest and utilize personal contacts.
How does the internship and internship class work?
All VPA LA Semester students (fall and spring) are required to intern 18 to 30 hours per week. You will register for your internship (FIL 500) for a minimum of 3 credits through MySlice at your appointed registration time. The internship course is a required component of the program. The course is taught by VPA LA Director Anna Proulx.
Interning As an International Student
As an international student studying in the U.S., you may be able to intern part time, but are restricted by the terms of your visa. Most international students hold an F-1 visa, which allows them to work in the U.S. but only under certain conditions and in accordance with guidelines and restrictions issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Curricular practical training (CPT) is an off-campus employment option for F-1 students when the practical training is an integral part of the established curriculum or academic program. Before you can begin an internship, your I-20 must be updated to show you have received curricular CPT approval to work in the U.S. You must receive an internship offer letter before you can apply for CPT. The internship start date on your offer letter and the CPT approval start date listed on your I-20 must match.
You can earn credit and be paid for CPT employment; a social security number is not required to begin employment. Learn more about Social Security Numbers and Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers. Submit paperwork for an updated I-20 with CPT approval directly to the Center for International Services (CIS), which will then obtain approval from USCIS. More information about CPT is available online.
What do I do once I have secured my internship?
Enter your internship experience in Handshake, the University’s career development platform, using the following instructions:
- Visit syr.joinhandshake.com
- Student Log-In (SUID and password)
- Click on “Career Center” – upper right
- Click on the “Experiences” tab
- Click on “Request an Experience”
- Choose “VPA – LA Internship Program”
- Complete all required fields
- Enter “Employer” – Please note:
- If the employer already has an account in Handshake, then they should show up in the drop-down box.
- If the employer does NOT have an account in Handshake, just continue typing and the drop down will disappear, and your employer will remain saved in the box.
- Under the “Approvers” section add Site Supervisor’s email
- Print out the attachment: “Employer Letter - STUDENT”
- Once all fields have been completed click “Request Experience”
- Once your request has been submitted, you will see the “FOR STUDENT ONLY” attachment to edit and submit to your site supervisor.
Congrats! You are ready to begin your internship. Please fill in the highlighted areas on the “FOR STUDENT ONLY” form and email it directly to your site supervisor and copy Anna Proulx, VPA LA Semester program director, at email@example.com. The site supervisor will need this for their company records.
We encourage you to maintain a work schedule between 18 to 30 hours per week (between one to twp internships), although we do acknowledge that there will be times when the hours will be a bit less or more depending on your projects. Because you must balance the internships with classes, we ask that the extra hours be kept to a minimum over the course of the semester.
Anna Proulx will serve as the academic sponsor for this internship throughout the semester. Since your internship experience is tracked via our career development platform, Handshake, you may receive notifications and prompts from a firstname.lastname@example.org email address. Notifications include a completion of a final employer evaluation. If you do not receive these notifications or have any questions regarding this or the program in general, please feel free to contact Anna Proulx at 818.561.7376.
What to Expect
Now that your Handshake Experience has been submitted, it will move through an approval process. The site supervisor and VPA LA Semester program director will have five business days to approve all completed experiences. (An approval does not need to happen before you begin your internship). Since notifications are coming directly from Handshake, make sure you (and your site supervisor) are checking your spam folders if you are not receiving these in a timely manner.
Additionally, you and your site supervisor will receive a notification five days prior to the semester end date prompting you both to complete a Final Evaluation. This will happen within the Handshake system and will be reviewed by the VPA LA Semester program director and the VPA career development team.
What do I include in the initial internship duties conversation?
- Term of employment: Avoid misunderstanding by clearly stating which day you will begin and also which day you will end.
- Hours: Get the office list of hours you are expected to work each week. Be sure to include “overtime” or “special events.” We are asking you to work 18-30 internship hours per week to be arranged in coordination with your employer with the understanding that you are required to be in class on time for your evening classes. Traffic, travel time, and dinner should also be factored into this equation. Employers should also know that a one-time special event that presents unique academic circumstances could be accommodated; however, consistent requests to stay late and miss class are not allowed or acceptable.
- Company culture: Since you are completing the internship for college credit, it is not expected that you will receive a stipend for your work. However, companies should offer reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses related to the job or a gas stipend for running errands with your personal vehicle. This is a conversation you need to have before you begin. (I.e., will you be asked to run errands? Will you be compensated for gas/mileage?) It is possible that some companies will provide an occasional lunch or snack, but it is not to be expected. Be mindful of the dress code within your company. Do not assume that jeans and t-shirts are acceptable. Flip flops are never acceptable. Some companies may require business casual attire, while others do allow for jeans with a blouse/polo shirt. You will become acquainted with your company’s culture within the first week or two of work.
- Work assignment: When you first meet with your direct supervisors at your internship, please have a conversation about their expectations and needs as well as your interests and expectations. Please make it clear that you understand that there will be a certain percentage of entry-level, task-oriented duties. You also understand that even these kinds of tasks have challenges and are a vital part of your education. This would be the best time to complete the required site proposal form with your supervisor.
- Illness/fall break/time off: Make sure you know who to contact in the event of illness and absence and the method of contact preferred. Do not assume a text or email is acceptable. If you are interning in the fall and not planning to remain in LA and work at your internship over the Fall Break/Thanksgiving holiday, be sure to give your host company notice well in advance.
Many of you will be required to write coverage during your internship in Los Angeles as well as for some of your classes. Writing coverage, especially writing good log-lines, is considered an important skill to have in the entertainment industry. It’s only after reading the log‐line that an executive or an agent will decide whether or not to read further, thus helping to sell or bury the screenplay. It can also help you learn how to pitch your own ideas quickly.
Provided below is a coverage sample and an article on how to write coverage with some great tips. To practice, visit Simply Scripts, where you can find major movie scripts, including the WGA 101 Greatest Scripts.
Your Coverage and You (PDF 192 KB)
If you're interested in breaking into the entertainment industry, then you're bound to encounter the task of script coverage. In its simplest iteration, script coverage is the summary and analysis of a script that is intended to substitute the process of reading the entirety of said script. In this video we go over seven of the most shared pieces of advice regarding script coverage from past and current interns and supervisors. View script coverage samples.