In Hollywood, FTT student gains valuable skills and experience through summer internships

Author: Hailey Oppenlander

From the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., to FX Networks in Los Angeles, Notre Dame students gain valuable experience every year through summer internships.

While internships are an important opportunity to discern career paths or gain insights into fields of study, costs can deter many students from accepting them. To eliminate this barrier, the Center for Career Development offers grants that enable students to afford living expenses when accepting unpaid or low-paying internships all over the world. (Applications for 2019 summer internship funding are due April 29.)

Beatty Smith 600Beatty Smith

After senior Beatty Smith worked in Los Angeles the summer after her sophomore year, she knew that she wanted to return. 

“I think I caught the bug. I had come from a small town in England where no one understood what it meant to have a career in film, and suddenly I was surrounded by people sharing my passion and my ambition,” she said. “In any coffee shop, there would be a screenwriter — or five — struggling over their latest masterpiece, a talent agent on the phone shouting at their assistant, and an actor getting caffeinated for their next audition. I loved it.”

Last summer, Smith, a film, television, and theatre major who founded the student Media Industry Club, interned at FX Networks and Annapurna Pictures in L.A., with the help of a grant from the Center for Career Development. Since the cost of living there was so high, the grant was integral. 

“It massively influenced my decision. I doubt I would have been able to take the internships if I hadn’t been given the grant,” she said.

While Smith’s two positions were very different, both related well to her major. 

“Everything I’ve been learning in film and television was applied at FX and Annapurna,” Smith said. 

At FX Networks, Smith worked in the development and current series department where she wrote synopses for television episodes, worked at the front desk, and did script coverage — writing brief reviews of scripts to help the company decide whether to pursue them. 

In addition, she had the opportunity to do a research project, which she decided to do about disability in film and television, since the disabled have been largely excluded from efforts to diversify the industry.

“They see a disability on a form and they assume that that person is incapable, which is not true most of the time,” Smith said. “The executives who attended my research presentation were very enthusiastic and responsive to my concerns, and many requested that my research be sent to them directly.” 

At Annapurna, Smith worked in the publicity department where she assisted with many aspects of film promotion, from premiers to press junkets and more.

One of the most difficult aspects of her internships was condensing long scripts into brief summaries that could be read quickly and easily. Smith relied on the communication skills she honed in Arts and Letters for the task — and also had to learn to trust her own judgment on scripts.

Beatty Smith AnnapurnaSmith at Annapurna Pictures in Los Angeles.

“They want you to have strong opinions,” she said. “There’s no point in you reading the script if you’re not going to give your opinion on it.” 

Once she got to L.A., the Notre Dame alumni network made her feel right at home. The Center for Career Development put her in touch with area alumni who met her for coffee and helped her adjust to the city. 

Though at the end of the summer, it was hard for Smith to leave the place she’s grown to love, she won’t stay away from L.A. for long. 

She plans to move back immediately following graduation and hopes to work for a studio, production company, or talent agency. Wherever Smith goes in L.A., she’ll bring with her the skills she gained in her internship experiences and in her liberal arts education.

“I feel so much more comfortable going into interviews now because I have so much to talk about from my internships,” she said. “I’ve actually had some real world experience that I can talk about with confidence and passion.”

Originally published at al.nd.edu.