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July 2014
Issue: June 1, 2007

THE VALUE OF INTERNSHIPS

By: Randi Altman
I still remember my parents “strongly suggesting” that I get an internship while in college. “It’s a foot in the door,” they said. What back then seemed like a whole lot of chops-busting was actually sage advice. Internships are big in this industry and a win-win for all involved.

“Many of our senior engineers started here as interns and have stayed,” reports SoundHound GM Gail Nord, who says they usually only hire one or two interns at a time. “We expect them to be professional and passionate and, while there can be small tasks to do, we work hard to get them into rooms and sessions to interact with clients and get hands-on experience. They get invaluable, first-hand knowledge of the business and we get great help.”

Troika Design Group started its summer internship program last year, according to creative director/designer Reid Thompson, “We were looking for interns with unique talents, since we strive for well-roundedness in our staff.”

In exchange for their time and effort, the studio spoke to each of them individually about future career plans and also got them “as involved as possible in as many aspects of design and production once they're here.” He adds that their internship program is a big part of their recruitment initiatives.

Gasket Studio's internship program runs year round. “We utilize our interns to explore new in-house projects, like short films, experimental animation and design,” says producer Tammy Kimbler. “They give us the opportunity to see what the new creative trends might be, as well as test out potential talent. And it's an excellent way for students to add real-world experience and work to their portfolios. Nearly all of our current staff interned with us or at another similar studio.”

Damijan Saccio, principal/co-founder of UVPhactory and his partner Scott Sindorf, used to teach classes in animation. “We realize how hard it is to get a job in this industry, especially when you don't have any production work to show right out of school. We try to have one or two interns in the office at any time.”

He says there are negatives and positives to the experience. “You have the potential to have cheap or even unpaid labor on hand, but on the minus side, it takes a significant amount of resources to watch after and train an intern. However, with a little luck and a lot of experience picking out interns, it can be great for both the intern and the company. We've had the good fortune of having several employees here who started out as an interns in the very beginning.”

“At Northern Lights, our interns are held accountable for their schedules and their tasks,” says partner David Gioiella. “The ones that show the most promise and initiative may be given the chance to work on actual projects.”

He says they try to learn from their interns as well. “We make them clean dishes and deliver packages, but we also try to tap them for the pulse of their generation. We really like to hear what they think about our product. They very often have insightful thoughts and observations, as well as opinions.”