From Rugrat to Intern

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  

This blog is by Taylor Blackston, CAS ’15

College is a place for growth. From changing majors to stumbling upon extra-curricular activities, my time at Penn has been full of self-discovery. The university and Career Services specifically, have connected me with many resources that have assisted me during the transition period between adolescence and adulthood. This summer, my internship experience has been an extension of my college career, furthering my understanding of what life will be like after graduation.

Earlier this year, Career Services sent out information regarding the IRTS Multicultural Career Workshop in New York City. As a junior majoring in Communication, I immediately filled out an application for the chance to learn more about the media and entertainment industry. The first day of the workshop, we listened to different types of media professionals on various panels. On the second day, IRTS hosted a career fair with recruiters from companies such as HBO, Scripps Networks, Starcom MediaVest Group and Viacom. Although I was quite nervous, I’m glad I walked up to the Viacom table when I did, because the connection I made with the recruiter led to my summer internship.

Viacom is the parent company of many popular cable networks such as MTV, VH1, BET and Comedy Central. This summer, I was a Viacom intern with the children’s network, Nickelodeon. I was so excited to work for the channel that aired the most memorable programs from my childhood. Not only did the décor on each floor include products and posters of my most beloved cartoon characters, but also one of the exciting benefits of my internship was access to watch any episode of my favorite Nick shows. More important than the perks though, was the insight I gained into how to run a cable television network. At Nickelodeon, I worked under the Media Planning team. The main job of this team is to promote the shows currently airing on the network. They program promotions strategically in order to bring viewers to the shows. Campaigns are important in producing good ratings, an integral part in the livelihood of a television network because ratings are important when selling advertising time.

My responsibilities were not only administrative in nature, as I given several meaningful projects to work on throughout the summer. One project I worked on was competitive tracking, which meant I watched a lot of television for a few days. I watched competing networks and examined how differently the networks promoted their content. This was important because many networks are seeking viewership from the same audience and we want a better understanding of what strategies may take a child away from watching Nick. I was most excited about creating my own personal project. I wanted to produce something useful for my department. I decided to create a handbook with information for future interns. The handbook includes a glossary of industry terms, an explanation of department documents and how to utilize them, and even advice for success from the Media Planning staff members. As the internship program is only 10 weeks long, I hope this guide is helpful in expediting the learning curve and get interns comfortable and involved early on in the program.

My summer at Nickelodeon was extremely valuable for many reasons. The one thing I appreciate most about my experience was how willing people were to help me explore the company. For instance, although I learned a lot from the Media Planning team, I felt early on that I would be more interested in pursuing a fulltime career in a creative department. In knowing that, my supervisor helped me to set up informational interviews with five different departments so I could get an understanding of positions that align better with my personal goals. Many staff members shared similar stories of getting their foot in the door at Viacom, but with patience and research, they ultimately found something better suited for themselves and received the encouragement to pursue their interests.

Although the summer is ending and I still wonder about the next step, I can say that my internship experience at Nickelodeon has made me feel more prepared for life after graduation. However, no matter how much older I get, hopefully I will carry the fun and youthful spirit of the Nickelodeon brand with me every step of the way.

What’s Next for Silicon Valley?

This is the first in a series of posts by recipaints of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  

This first blog is by Emily Sun, CAS ’15

This summer, I was one of the lucky few who had an internship in Silicon Valley. I am not sure of the exact numbers or rates of acceptance for these internships, but I know they are extremely desirable. Gourmet and ethnic cafeteria food, company buses, and free concerts; these tech giants in Silicon Valley offer their interns amenities far greater than any top ranked university. My internship was a bit different since my employer was not a tech giant but a nonprofit. Joint Venture Silicon Valley is a leadership group that tackles the major challenges facing the region. A few of its initiatives include sustainable buildings, wireless communication, economic development, and climate prosperity. Recently, Joint Venture published a Silicon Valley Index which has been greatly influential and helpful for understanding Silicon Valley’s economy.

My internship was with Kara Ann Gross, the executive director of Joint Venture’s Economic Development Alliance. During this experience, I gained a deeper perspective and understanding about a nonprofit and how, in Joint Venture’s case, essential was collaboration. Every Monday morning we had a staff meeting where the president of Joint Venture would basically check in with everyone and update us on what he was doing too. In my previous experience with nonprofits, there were a lot of meetings to attend regarding planning, city policies or programs but we never had just staff meetings. Staff meetings felt personal but at the same time it was about the organization and staying on top of the work.

In the beginning, I had to do some background reading about Joint Venture, Silicon Valley, and business development as an introduction. Kara gave me a lot of materials including reports and business journals which I was to read for my benefit, but also keeping an eye out for interesting articles for our newsletter and up and coming real estate brokers for our broker database. My primary project was to update this database by merging some different lists and adding new contacts. Another project that I worked on was collecting interviews from member cities and making that information available on our website. Although I was working for on economic development in Silicon Valley, somehow a large part of my role was editing and developing the website. I also had to update content on the website regarding co-working spaces and advance manufacturing in Silicon Valley. I didn’t realize how much nonprofits like Joint Venture value and emphasized information, research and innovation. It must be part of the Silicon Valley culture.

Perhaps my favorite part of my internship was the site visits to the member cities. Kara introduced me to the economic development directors of cities such as Fremont, Sunnyvalle, and Palo Alto. Some cities housed tech giants while others had substantial residential development. The needs of the member cities varied just like the character of each city. Regional economic development is becoming more important for local governments and I am excited to see Joint Venture and similar nonprofits exercise their leadership.

Do I Need a Summer Internship?

by Crissy Iglesias, College Team Graduate Assistant

Summer internship season is here, and if you visit on Career Services on any given day, you’ll find students coming in to chat with one of our counselors looking for guidance on the summer internship and opportunities search. I recently had a discussion with some of my residents about how it seems like “everyone” had their summer internship already, and they were concerned about how to pursue their own path.

What is a summer internship?

In this post, I’ll use the phrase summer internship for brevity’s sake, but the term is more all -encompassing than that. “Summer internship” doesn’t just mean working for the corporate world. It can be a research experience working with a professor on a subject you’re passionate about, or it can be working for a non-profit or social impact organization. The term is as limited as your imagination. If you check out the Penn Internship Network, our database of Penn students and information about their summer experiences, you’ll see the depth and breadth of opportunities Penn students pursued over the past summer. Feel free to search by keyword or major and poke around – the results can be illuminating!

When should I get my internship?

This is probably the question I get most frequently in my appointments, and I’m always happy to clear up misconceptions about timelines. Honestly, as the search is a very individual endeavor, the answer varies by person and organization. If you check out our Career Plans Survey Report on Summer Internships for 2013, you’ll notice that the majority of Penn students received their summer internships in the time frame of February-May, with a noticeable peak in March-April. So if you’ve been worried about being behind in your search process, fear not! As past years clearly illustrate, there’s still plenty of time for a successful search.

What do I do now?

Use your spring break (and the next few weeks) as a time for some introspection and information gathering. Think about what you really want to get out of your summer. Is it that you want to explore a new or existing career interest? Do you want to volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about? Do you want to travel and experience a place you’ve never been before? In higher education, we only get one summer per year, so it’s important that you really reflect about what you want to gain from this period.

Once you’ve determined what paths you’d be interested in pursuing, it’s time for information gathering and research. Peruse the Penn Internship Network to see what Penn students have pursued in the past, or check out our Resources by Career Field page for industry-specific tips and search tools. Know a friend who did something interesting last summer, or someone who works in a field that you’d like to know more about? Ask if you can have an informational interview with them to get more insights into their experience, and find out how you can pursue something similar. (Never heard of informational interviewing? Find out more about what it means and how to go about it.)

Continue reading “Do I Need a Summer Internship?”

Perfect Timing (for your summer internship search) – REVISITED

By Claire Klieger

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about how my experience visiting the newly opened Harry Potter World at Universal Studios over spring break (yes, I fully embrace my inner dork) resembled the frenzy of the spring internship search.  Since we’ve been seeing lots of students worried that they are “late” in the internship search game recently, it seemed appropriate to revisit this blog with some updated stats on when students actually get offers (spoiler alert: it’s not when you may think). Enjoy!

Hogwarts Castle, or as I like to call it, "Mecca."
Hogwarts Castle, or as I like to call it, “Mecca.”

…Since that section of the park was so new, our strategy was to get to the park as soon as it opened, hoping to miss some of the crowds. However, when we arrived we realized everyone else had a similar idea because the place was packed. Luckily, as the day wore on, the crowds really thinned out and we ended up having almost no wait for the HP Experience (fantastic!) or other rides. And, despite being warned to expect a two hour wait at The Three Broomsticks for lunch, we just waltzed right in and were able to be seated immediately (for the record, butter beer isn’t as tasty as one would hope).

Why regale you with old stories from my geeky spring break? It turns out that the internship search season can feel much the same way. Everyone thinks gee, I have to get started really early or all of the “good” opportunities will be taken. And there is the similar early semester frenzy of OCR. But the truth is that lots of really fantastic opportunities don’t become available until later in the semester. Most students don’t find out about their summer plans that early. In fact, hot off the presses, the summer 2012 survey data shows that for freshman and sophomores across all schools, 52% received their offers in April or later. Or, in other words, only 22% of freshman and sophomores receive their offers before March. While it is true that some industries tend to make offers earlier (financial services peaks with internship offers in February), many do not typically make offers until later. For example, for internships in both communications and with non-profits, the peak time period for offers was April. For more details on timelines for offers, summer salary trends by industry and more, check out our newly posted summer survey reports for additional details.

Continue reading “Perfect Timing (for your summer internship search) – REVISITED”