The Vandy-in-Hollywood Summer Internship Program (ViHSIP) has earned a reputation among industry insiders for providing top-notch student interns to various entertainment enterprises while providing students an opportunity to make connections and form relationships. Since its inception in 2006, the popularity of this program has continued to grow. ViH places approximately 30 students per year at some of Hollywood's top studios, agencies, distributors and production companies. ViHSIP participants also gain access to guest lecturers, pre-release film screenings and premieres, studio tours, and other special events presented by Vanderbilt alumni. These internships have been life-changing experiences for most participants. Former ViHSIP interns have been very successful in leveraging those connections, turning their unpaid internships into full-time career opportunities. The idea behind this program is to give Vanderbilt students internships they otherwise would have a hard time accessing on their own.
Several factors have contributed to the program's success, but one in particular must be the screening and interview process. Just wanting to work in Hollywood isn't enough to land one of these coveted spots. The best candidates are able to articulate exactly what type of career in the entertainment field they want—or at least think they want. The ViH Alumni Group looks for candidates based on skill set and focus—which company or area of the entertainment industry they are most interested in. Along those lines, candidates will also need to demonstrate dedication, passion, a willingness to work long hours, and an excitement about that world. Our alumni are very accomplished Hollywood professionals.
No matter whom you talk to, one thing is clear: Without connections, without a network, it's almost impossible to find your way in Hollywood.
MEET THE CO-FOUNDERS
Chad Gervich ('96) is a television writer/producer, bestselling author, and award- winning playwright. He has written and produced professionally in TV and digital media for over ten years, working on everything from scripted sitcoms and web series to talk/sketch/clip and reality shows. He also teaches writing and business courses for universities such as UCLA, Drexel University, and California State.
Rich Hull ('92) is a proven leader of private equity-backed media and entertainment companies, and an expert at monetizing media in a digital age. He is currently Executive Chairman of Pongalo, a Latino digital media company which owns the Pongalo subscription streaming (OTT) platform, a large set of ad-supported (AVOD) channels, and one of the largest IP assets of film and TV digital rights in the world.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. WHAT DOES THE APPLICATION PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
The ViHSIP application will be posted on DoreWays at the beginning of December. Candidates will be selected and interviewed by the Vandy-in-Hollywood Alumni Group. Participants will also attend an information session prior to send-off. Each selected student receives a Vandy-in-Hollywood Summer Intern Handbook, which includes such tips as, “Timing is everything in Hollywood. Projects fall apart all the time because one piece of an intricate puzzle didn’t happen on time. Understand this, and know that when you’re asked to do something, the default timeline is that it’s urgent.” One goal of this handbook is to deconstruct any misconceptions the interns may have about working in the land of year-round suntans and red carpets.
2. WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?
Rising juniors and seniors in good academic standing.
3. WHAT IF I HAVE NO RELATED EXPERIENCE?
That’s okay. While there are no guarantees that everyone who applies will receive an interview or an offer for an internship, the ViHSIP program was designed to provide students with exposure to opportunities in Hollywood. We don’t expect you to have real-world experience. That being said, employers do look for transferrable skills and the way in which you have professionally developed yourself through your campus involvement. What have you done in the past that relates to the internships to which you are applying? How do you think that will help you make positive contributions during your internship this summer?
4. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I APPLY?
You should receive an email from the Career Center instructing you how to schedule a time for your interview. These interviews are 30-minute Skype sessions scheduled between you and an alumnus in the Vandy-in- Hollywood affinity group. These are designed to allow you to discuss your interest areas listed on your application and receive guidance about the internship opportunities. After your interview, you will be notified about the decision concerning your admittance into the program. You will then be eligible to apply directly to your top 3 ViHSIP internships in DoreWays. Employers will contact you directly to arrange for interviews.
5. HOW DO I FIND COMPANIES THAT MIGHT BE THE RIGHT FIT FOR MY INTERESTS?
Consider whether you want to participate in a larger internship program where you might have multiple fellow interns. The benefit to working for a larger employer is that there is often a professional development series within the company to expose you to different departments. Yet, the downside is that you are often working on a very small piece of what that company does. If you work with a smaller employer, you will likely get to work on a wide range of projects and have greater access to leaders of the organization to gain a sense of what it takes to be a successful company in the industry. Certainly, do not discount the smaller employers…these also tend to be a little less competitive, so you might have a better chance in the selection process. To find your fit in terms of the role, research the entertainment industry. Learn about the various types of career paths such as film producer, director, agent, production, talent management, etc. Explore company websites and think about your skills and interests. Where do you think would be a good fit for you? Why?
6. HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR MY INTERVIEWS?
Be specific about what area of the entertainment industry interests you. If you don’t know, Google what an agent or director or production assistant does to learn more. Be focused! Avoid saying “I will do anything because I want to be in Hollywood.” The alumni conversations will be more beneficial to you if you’ve done your research in advance and really thought about the application questions.
7. WILL ALL OF THE AVAILABLE POSITIONS BE LISTED ON DOREWAYS IN FEBRUARY?
No. Opportunities will continue to be added until May.
8. WHICH COMPANIES HAVE PARTICIPATED IN THE PAST?
Agency for the Performing Arts, Smoke House Pictures, Amsel Eisenstadt & Frazier, WME, Candor Entertainment, DigiSynd, Double Feature Films, FX, CBS-Paramount, Lifetime Networks, CAA, Lionsgate, Miramax, NBCUniversal, New Wave Entertainment, PMK, Reveille, Universal Music Group, Valeo Management, Wind Dancr, and mamy more!
9. ARE THESE INTERNSHIPS PAID?
Probably not. In a typical year, 99% of these positions are unpaid. To find out if a position is paid, refer to the job description in DoreWays.
10. IS ACADEMIC CREDIT REQUIRED? HOW DO I RECEIVE ACADEMIC CREDIT?
Most VIHSIP opportunities require you to be enrolled at VU in a one-credit course. To learn more about the process for receiving academic credit for internships, please visit your school's website (Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering, Blair School of Music, Peabody College).
11. WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR THESE INTERNSHIPS?
Each employer has a different timeline. Generally, the positions start mid-May to the beginning of June and run until the end of July to the beginning of August.
12. WHAT ABOUT HOUSING?
See the Vandy-in-Hollywood Summer Internship Program Handbook 2018 edition for ideas and information on housing in L.A.
13. WILL I NEED A CAR?
Having a car is highly recommended.
14. WHAT IF I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS NOT ADDRESSED HERE?
Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org
“As a member of the first ViH internship class who is now a television staff writer, I specifically credit ViH’s internship program and a Vandy alum involved in ViH with putting me on a path to achieve my dream. I truly hope more students can benefit from that system.”
Sam Miller, Cinema & Media Arts '07
"This summer has been absolutely incredible. All of the Vandy-in-Hollywood events were unbelievably cool and so, so helpful. I feel like my Hollywood network has expanded at least 10 times what it was before this summer. All of the Vandy alumni I met are so great. Not only are they all incredibly successful, but they are also so nice and willing to help in any way possible. I had such an awesome experience. I will definitely be back next summer."
Annie Randle, Human and Organizational Development '19
"I'm sitting in the terminal of LAX waiting to board my flight at any moment. This summer has been so immensely helpful. The insightful into this industry and working together with the ViH group has made this experience special for all of us! I've learned so much more than I could have possibly imagined this summer and definitely feel like I have a much better grasp on this industry."
Tony Xiao, Cinema & Media Arts '18
“I loved my ViH experience in 2013 and I wouldn't have my current job without my ViH internship experience. I only recently graduated and I immediately got hired on the FOX television show "Sleepy Hollow" in Atlanta. In fact, I wouldn't have most of my work experience without the ViH internship program.”
Hayden Leigh May, Economics '15
“The Vandy-in-Hollywood Internship Program gave me the opportunity to get a hands-on feel for the entertainment industry. Through it, I've worked for and learned from people in the business, and now know what to expect when I pursue a career in the future. ”
Carter Adkins, Cinema & Media Arts '18