Updated on Wednesday 27 February 2013
Internships are a bridge between college and university life to the professional world. Film internships offer international students studying film the chance to network with professionals, gain valuable experience you can’t get in the classroom and build your resume. Internships are widely available and can be found in a college or university listing, company or studio websites and trade publications.
As an international student studying film in the U.S., it can be confusing to transition from the life as a college or university student to the professional world. Some say that the GPA is what matters. This is true if you’re an undergraduate looking to get into graduate schools. Others say that experience is what lands you the job after you graduate. The best way to get experience in your career field, however, is an internship in film.
Internships are a valuable learning tool, something you can’t experience in the classroom. Internships in film give international students the chance to see a working production or company’s operations up close. Internships in film give you hands on experience dealing with customers, equipment and bosses. Internships also allow you to network with other professionals, or even get hired upon graduation. Some degree programs for colleges and universities even require internships to graduate. A resume is not complete without internships. Some companies offer paid internships or a small stipend to cover living expenses or commuting costs, but many more internships are unpaid.
Getting an internship in film is not hard. Who doesn’t want free help? Start by researching the company you’d be interested in working for. Make sure that their operations and your duties match your career goals. See if they have film internship listings. These can often be found in job opportunities sections of websites. Or, international students can call their human resources department and inquire about internships. Internships are also listed in trade publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
If a company does not have any internships listed, feel free to send a letter of intent or make a phone call. Like stated before, who doesn’t want free help? And the fact that you show initiative already says something about your professional character.
So what are some of the film internships available to international students?
Lucas Film is one of the most successful independent production companies of our time. Think Star Wars and Indiana Jones. They have a whole website dedicated to job opportunities and internships for undergraduate and graduate students.
Mickey Mouse may just have a spot for you in his magic kingdom. The Disney College Program is open to full and part time college and university students.
Are you looking for internships in film dealing with the news rather than movies. All the major networks such as Fox, ABC, and NBC all have internship programs available for students wanting to get into the world of broadcasting, journalism, camera work, and producing.
Many major international film festivals also offer internships. The Austin Film Festival, the Miami International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival are just five of hundreds of film festivals that support film interns. Your film school also may put on their own film festival. Interning or working your schools film festival also provides you with great experience as a film intern.
Many of these film internships are very competitive. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big and trying to get an internship at a larger studio. But if somehow it does not work out, student films are a great way to gain some experience and allow you to build your resume up to be a stronger force next time you apply for a more competitive internship.
If you can’t make it to Hollywood or New York City, look for smaller production companies close to your school. Chances are there is some kind of production company that specializes in audio or even creating advertisements in a city closer to your school.
Internships in film are easy to come by. Some can be competitive, others not so much. As a film international student intern you will learn and grow more than you could in a classroom.