Recently, aspiring television & film professional Dan Bracey took a few minutes to speak with StateUniversity.com about his internship experience at Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim division, the adult-oriented subnetwork known for offbeat, irreverent programming such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbillies, Robot Chicken, and other shows. Ask anyone who’s currently looking for a job or an internship, and they’ll tell you it’s a lot of work just to get an interview or a return phone call. If you think it’s tough to land an internship gig changing toner at a cube farm, just imagine how tough it is to break in to the entertainment business right now. But that’s exactly what Dan Bracey is doing.
Dan, a graduating senior at Buffalo State University, didn’t enter college with a plan to pursue a career in television. A CSI fan, his first major was in forensic chemistry. After a semester and a half, he changed his focus to journalism and creative writing, before being accepted as one of 15 students in Buff State’s new Television/Film Arts program.
Dan’s search for a summer 2009 internship started early, in fall 2008. While many of his classmates doggedly pursued internships in Los Angeles, the epicenter of the TV and film industry, Dan focused his efforts on media opportunities on the East Coast. He sent nearly 200 inquiries, primarily to media companies in New York City, and over the next several months Dan attended eight interviews, including one with Adult Swim in Atlanta. Two months after the interview, Dan got the successful callback and went to work.
Dan’s no-pressure approach to internship hunting may have been key to his success. Rather than ask specifically for internships or jobs, Dan simply asked if he could speak with someone to learn a little about their business. Many people responded positively, agreeing to brief phone calls or exchanging a few tidbits via e-mail.
Once on the job, Dan got hands-on experience in many different aspects of the business. He said, “The more I would do, the more responsibility they could give me. It was fun getting a taste of everything.”
Throughout the two-and-a-half month internship, Dan worked briefly in marketing, post-production, and development, in addition to running lots of errands. Some of the tasks were slow and methodical, like reviewing taped episodes of Robot Chicken. But just as often, he found himself rushing to deliver film or take care of other urgent errands in order to meet a deadline.
A mid-year graduate, Dan’s keeping his options open for 2010 and beyond. He would love to return to Atlanta, but is also considering a move to Los Angeles if the right opportunity is available.
For other students seeking a cool internship in a competitive field, Dan’s advice can be summed up in one word: persevere. “Send as many letters as you can just to get attention,” he says. “If you’re really into it, keep pursuing. Be creative, and use that to your advantage.”
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