As a sophomore RTVF major, I spent a big part of the past school year freaking out about what I would be doing with my summer, and where I would be doing it. I knew that I loved television, and thanks to my work on Mayfest, I knew that I loved festival and event planning. With some help from the SoConnect website, a lucky discovery of NYU summer housing, and an incredibly generous grant from SIGP, I was able to combine these interests into an incredible experience by spending the past eight weeks interning at the New York Television Festival in New York City. The position, my first internship, was so educational and enjoyable, and having the opportunity to spend a summer in New York was an experience that I will never forget.
The New York Television Festival, or NYTVF, bills itself as “THE festival for independent television.” Currently in its 9th year, the Festival serves as a platform for independent creators who are aspiring to break into the very competitive television industry, and in the process, helps to fuel the revolution in bold, quality TV programming that we are currently in the midst of. The NYTVF collects script and pilot video submissions for various competitions, such as a Fox sitcom script competition, an NBC drama challenge, and an Independent Pilot Competition (IPC) among others, and then selects the winners, with those winners being showcased at the annual Festival in the fall and receiving guaranteed pilot deals with the actual networks.
As an intern who, due to the rather unique quarterly schedule of Northwestern, began the job two weeks later than my fellow interns, I was thrown into the middle of my responsibilities, which were widespread. From reading the Fox scripts and writing up their strengths and weaknesses, to watching the independent pilot submissions and scoring them as a group, to fulfilling a range of office responsibilities, from filing to organizing, the other six interns and I were treated as genuine team members, and not as lowly college students who should bite their tongue and be grateful that we were receiving any work at all. The seven full-time employees, all of whom were amazingly smart, talented, funny, and kind people, actually valued our opinions when judging the pilots and scripts, and in some cases, tasked us with narrowing the field and helping to choose finalists for the festival.
Outside of official office duties, the internship was also an incredibly supportive environment that taught me not only about how to succeed in the entertainment industry, but provided me with a great community with which I could grow professionally and actually enjoy myself at my job. The NYTVF provided us with weekly lunches and speakers from various sectors of the entertainment industry, from a television agent at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to a development head at MTV; all of the speakers were smart, engaging, and more than willing to dish out useful advice to us wide-eyed college kids, and I feel that I have a much stronger grasp on the industry because of their talks. The NYTVF employees further treated us as equals by actually engaging with us, going out with us, providing us with advice and regularly checking in on our well-being, and fostering a work environment that was both professional and fun; when you find that you actually like every single other person in your office, you know that they are doing something right.
Work life aside, though, the opportunity to live in our nation’s largest city was just as much of a learning experience as any office job. Living in Greenwich Village, navigating the various boroughs, and seeing all that the incredible city had to offer was the greatest adventure of my life, and helped make me a much more independent person than I was. I saw so much, did so much, and learned so much about television, my goals, and living on my own, and I feel incredibly fulfilled by my internship experience and incredibly grateful to Northwestern, SIGP, and the NYTVF for making it possible.
Ryan Kearney is an incoming junior and RTVF/Political Science student.
About Views from the Cube
Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.