Cindy Kaplan of Hollywood Resumes shared her tips for breaking into Hollywood in an article in Jewess: An Online Magazine for Jewish Women. Check it out here!
One very important thing to remember as you begin your next internship is that your internship is what you make of it. As we’ve said before, your internship is not all about you, so sometimes you’re going to have to go out of your way to find the value in your role. Here are three tips that will help maximize the impact of your internship and set you up for future success:
1. Set up informational interviews. The most valuable part of an internship is the network it creates for you. If you want to get a job in Hollywood after graduation, you’re going to need connections that can help you get there. Set up meetings with executives and assistants across the company, and learn as much as you can from them. Then, be sure to stay in touch after the internship has ended.
2. Stay busy. It’s true, many internships are boring, either because your supervisor is too busy to give you assignments or because there’s simply not much work that the team needs your help with. But spending the entire day on Facebook isn’t an option – if other employees see your computer screen, they’ll assume you aren’t a very reliable intern. So, if you run out of tasks, ask your supervisor if there’s anything you can help with. It will serve as a reminder that you need things to do, and she’ll be glad you took the initiative to ask. If your supervisor doesn’t need anything, see if there’s a way you can create some work for yourself. Think of assignments that might help the team in some way – compiling competitive reports, talent lists, newsletters, etc. – and see if there are any processes you can implement or research you can do that will make the department better. Aside from avoiding boredom, you’ll score major bonus points for making everyone’s lives easier!
3. Read everything. One benefit of internships is that you have access to lots of proprietary information that you wouldn’t be able to learn otherwise. So, when you’re given scripts or documents to organize (or shred!), try to read them all to learn more about the business and stay up to date with what your team is working on. Obviously, don’t go digging around in filing cabinets without permission, but if you take the time to read everything you’re given, you’ll come out of your internship a lot more informed. Plus, reading takes up a lot of time and can help mitigate boredom!
It’s a bummer that many internships don’t turn out to be as great as they sounded in the interview. Sometimes supervisors won’t be able to give you their full attention. Sometimes the work will be too easy. But it’s crucial that you’re always learning during your internship, so if you find yourself getting bored, figure out something you want to know more about and try out these tips!
When you’re an intern or an assistant, it’s easy to feel like you’re at the bottom of the food chain with no hope of ever getting recognized for all the hard work you put in. And it's true, many of your efforts will go unnoticed by your supervisors, but that's just part of the job. However, there are a few simple things you can do to stand out when you’re in an entry-level position that could open up doors for future growth. These may seem minor, but trust us, they will have a huge impact on how your supervisors perceive you and will also help make their lives easier.
1. Come in early and leave late
So much of making it in this industry boils down to luck, which essentially requires you to be in the right place at the right time. But did you know you actually have a little bit of control over the luck factor? Think about it: If you’re always in the right place, you’ll definitely be there when it’s the right time. If you’re the first to come in to the office and the last to leave, you’ll be around when your boss has an emergency he needs to you handle, and when he sees he can rely on you in a moment of after-hours crisis, he’ll think of you as indispensable. You should never leave without checking in with your boss first, and try your best not to leave before he does.
2. Manage your own tasks
One of the hallmarks of an employee who’s ready for more responsibility is someone who can manage himself independently. If you have tasks your boss expects you to complete daily or weekly, do them without an extra reminder. Many interns or new assistants wait for their bosses to ask before doing a simple task and then wonder why no one takes them seriously. If your boss wants to read Variety every morning, make sure it’s on her desk as soon as she gets in. If you know your boss likes to have drinks confirmed before lunch, don’t wait for her to ask you to confirm them -- set a reminder for yourself to send an email at 10am, so they’ll already be confirmed by the time she remembers to ask.
3. Maintain office decorum
This should be an easy one, but appropriate office behavior seems especially hard for interns and assistants fresh out of college to master. The workplace -- even a small, casual office -- is not a super chill place, especially when you’re entry-level. Your boss might wear hoodies to work and prop his feet up on his desk, but you can’t do that until you’ve proven yourself. Dress one level more professionally than the person right above you on the ladder, and curb any casual habits like having a messy desk, blasting music, and checking your phone. You might see your superiors acting more lax than you are, but remember that they’ve earned that right, likely by being buttoned-up in the early stages of their careers.
4. Grab opportunities by the horns
You might think it’s best at this stage of your career to keep your head down and do the work that’s been assigned to you. But no one is going to respect you if you don’t exert yourself. If your boss or a more senior employee needs help with a project, be the first to volunteer. If you notice your boss is swamped, and you’re so bored you’re reading comments on Deadline, ask if there’s anything else you can do to take some work off her plate. If you think of an opportunity for the company to grow or improve, do some research in your downtime and put together a proposal. The more interested you are in the company, the more the company will be interested in you.
You might think networking is your own personal business, and to some extent, you’re right. But if your boss sees that you’re attending JHRTS events, scheduling drinks with assistants at other companies, and socializing with other people at your company, she’ll think of you as someone who wants to grow within the industry. Plus, if you’re well-connected, you may have the opportunity to bring in new business, which will REALLY make you stand out. Don’t be obnoxious about who you know and how “Hollywood” you are, but don’t be shy about letting your boss know you had drinks with her agent’s assistant or that you learned something really neat from an industry panel.
We know Hollywood internships and assistant positions can be demanding, and this might seem like a lot to remember on top of all your assigned duties. But if you can turn these five tips into long-term habits, you'll be setting yourself up for success!
It’s the first day of your summer internship, and you walk into the office ready to take on the world. After you meet your new internship supervisor, she somewhat frantically shows you to your cube, gives you a few office supplies, hands you a stack of scripts to read, and heads back to her desk. But wait, what about the grand tour of the office, team lunch, and detailed explanation of everything the department is responsible for? Isn’t she supposed to stick with you for the day and make sure you feel welcome? Think again. Your supervisor is busy -- she might be an assistant trying not to miss her boss’s phone calls, or she might be a creative executive with a full day of meetings ahead of her -- and your well-being is rarely going to be at the top of her mind. If you want to succeed in your internship without feeling let down, you’ll need to remember one thing -- your internship is not about you.
Let’s take a moment to review the purpose of an internship. For you, it’s a great learning opportunity and a way to build your network. But employers aren’t taking you on as an intern out of the goodness of their hearts. Although most internship supervisors enjoy helping industry newbies learn the ropes, the main reason you’re there is because they’ve decided that you’ll be able to make their jobs easier by taking on some of the team’s work. Keep this in mind as your start your internship -- if you can look at your internship from your supervisor’s perspective, you’ll inevitably take a different approach to handling the work and make a good impression as a result.
So what does this mean for you? First, you’ll have to accept that many of your assignments are going to be tedious and boring. Interns are often responsible for creating detailed spreadsheets, making lists, or handling administrative duties. Many of these tasks are extremely time consuming, and you may start to get tired of them. But think about the big picture -- if you’ve spent eight hours working on a spreadsheet, you’ve saved someone on the team eight hours of extra work (provided that you do the assignment correctly). If you do an excellent job, you’ll make a great impression on your supervisor, who in turn will help you find an assistant position when the time comes. And then, you’ll be able to toss your annoying busy work over your intern -- it’s the circle of life!
Secondly, you need to figure out how not to be a pest. If you’re constantly hovering around your supervisor’s desk or disrupting meetings to ask questions, you’re going to drive everyone crazy. When given an assignment, do your best to ask questions up front. If something comes up that you don’t understand or aren’t sure how to approach, try to figure it out on your own (being resourceful is a key quality that a good assistant must have, so you might as well start practicing now). But sometimes you can't figure it out on your own, and in that case, you should consult your supervisor. Just make sure you don't interrupt her -- if she's on a call or totally in the zone, shoot her an email with your question or use the company's chat system to let her know you need her when she has a minute. If she looks free -- and no, her lunch break does not count as "free," even if she's eating at her desk -- you can skip the email and ask your question face-to-face. But this only applies if it's a short, task-specific question. If you have more general inquiries about the department or industry, need career advice, or want a progress report, set a meeting with your supervisor to go over your questions in depth. She’ll be happy to accommodate -- it may not always seem like it, but she definitely wants you to learn something through this internship!
Of course, you should take the initiative to make the internship work for you. Just be resourceful and do it in a way that doesn’t waste other people’s time. If you want to read through all the scripts on the development slate, go for it. You can even share your notes with your supervisor (as long as you’re okay knowing that most of the time they won’t get read). All of this is good practice, and no one will fault you for taking on work that wasn’t assigned. Also, you should try to set up various informational meetings with people in other departments -- remember, the most valuable part of an internship is the professional network you can get out of it!
Ultimately, the key to success in any internship is making sure you strike a balance between learning/networking and supporting the company. If you do all your work well, take initiative, and remember that the company doesn't revolve around its interns, your experience will be worthwhile.