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3 Schools for Paid and Unpaid Film and Television Internships

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 5/11/2011

Find internships in film and television by relying on three of the most famous schools in the business to connect you with future employers. Media students learn about the tools of the trade, get hands-on experience and find possible areas of specialization during their film internships.

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    “Film director Nick Palumbo on set” by Hornick Films/Wikimedia Commons Media students know that Internships in the film industry -- as well as the television genre -- are highly competitive. The more well-known the grantor, the stiffer the competition; adding further to the competitive spirit is the availability of only few paid internships. Students from the same school, media course or from across town likely vie for an opportunity to intern with the powerhouses in the business.

    Getting accepted may make a future difference between finding employment with a renowned studio quickly and having to make do with less stellar assignments until the graduate has had a chance to make some contacts in the industry. What schools should you look to for interning opportunities?

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    University of California, Irvine

    Student internships from the University of California at Irvine(1) offer the learner a number of opportunities for specialization. Since the school is situated near the hub of the California entertainment business, media students have the chance to capitalize on interning options within the Los Angeles film industry. Examples include 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures. Other opportunities exist for the fields of editing, L.A. film music at 20th Century Fox, production, film festival preparation, animation, marketing, casting and also radio.

    Known at the school as “Film and Media Studies 197,” it is possible to take the internship for four units. Insiders recommend actually doing two internships at two credits each. Open only to juniors and seniors with a 3.0 GPA, the internships are generally unpaid. Internships require one or two days of eight working hours per week for a 10-week period.

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    George Mason University, Virginia

    Film and media studies internships at the George Mason University(2) are limited to available venues in the immediate area but also further away in DC. Opportunities include the Discovery Channel Silver Docs, PBS documentaries, DC Shorts, the Hirshhorn Museum and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The latter internships are geared to science communication majors.

    There are opportunities for unpaid and paid internships for film students. The workload varies. For example, the unpaid PBS internship requires a 12-16 hour work week commitment. Internship credit must be arranged by the student individually with the intern supervisors.

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    Kanbar Institute of Film & Television Students

    The TISCH School of the Arts at NYU operates the Kanbar Institute(3) and the internship opportunities associated with it. Internships are available year round, but would-be participants must have completed two “Sight and Sound level courses” prior to signing up. Types of internships include animation, actor representation, casting, advertising, children’s programming, commercials and distribution. Some of the organizations and programs that the film student may work with include the Animal Planet, DreamWorks, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Law and Order and TMZ.

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    While location of the school matters for the media student, consider checking out various schools’ available internships in film and television before choosing the actual educational venue. In this way it is possible to hone in on a desired working environment and industry contacts ahead of enrollment.

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    Photo Credit: “Film director Nick Palumbo on set” by Hornick Films/Wikimedia Commons at