Karen Heisler | Monday, September 13, 2010
As the internship coordinator for the Department of Film, Television and Theatre, I would like to respond to Michael Burke’s comments regarding the Notre Dame Career Center in Wednesday’s Observer (“Thanks Career Center,” Sept. 8)
Over the past several years, the staff at the Career Center, including director Lee Svete, associate director Rose Kopec, program director LoriAnn Edinborough and others, have gone above and beyond in reaching out to companies and organizations that provide internships and ultimately jobs for students who major in film, television and theatre and other areas of the liberal arts. In addition, the Career Center supports and administers a variety of grants, stipends and initiatives which help fund summer internship opportunities for students who could otherwise not afford them. I work very closely week in and week out with the staff at the Career Center to exchange and post information about internship opportunities for FTT majors both here in the Michiana area and all over the world. The opportunities are there, but many students fail to take advantage of those or to actually make an appointment with someone at the Career Center (or with me) to help them through the process. All of us are here to help, but we can’t do our jobs if no one comes to see us.
I have worked and been associated with the television industry since 1984. The one thing that hasn’t changed — and perhaps the only thing that hasn’t changed in television — is that the people who succeed and find jobs in the industry are those who have the most experience and are willing to work their way up the ladder. A resume littered with a variety of internship experiences is still the only way one can break through the door. Waiting until the second semester of your senior year to get an internship is often too late to impress someone in a position to hire — there are many other students with a lot more experience as “the competition.” Plus, the television and film industries operate and hire in a much different way than traditional businesses do. Many are small or under tight budgets, so coming to a career fair is not an option for them. Jobs aren’t available in six months or a year — organizations hire when and if they have an immediate need. And this is such a competitive industry, companies or production houses don’t have to “recruit” or solicit resumes to find qualified people to do the job.
Jen Sharron, a 2001 FTT grad who works as a field producer for Jimmy Kimmel Live, recently returned to campus for a visit and spoke to my class. When Jen was at Notre Dame, she spent two semesters working as an intern at Golden Dome Media (a former video production company at WNDU-TV), did another unpaid stint in the sports department at WNDU-TV and had a minimum wage summer job at a small production company in Los Angeles — all while earning All-America honors as a key member of the Irish women’s softball team. If anyone didn’t have the time to do an internship, it was Jen. Yet, she understood how important it was for her to have experience on her resume, and she sought out every opportunity that she could. She also told my class how important each and every one of those experiences has been to her career. It’s amazing to me that there are several wonderful internship opportunities for students interested in the television business right here in our area that go unfulfilled semester after semester.
So, FTT and liberal arts majors, take note. There are lots of people at Notre Dame (especially those in the Career Center) who will help you in your search for a job or internship in your particular field. All you have to do is ask and listen.
Adjunct Instructor/Internship Coordinator