Internships are the way to get your foot in the entertainment industry’s door


Someone recently asked me advice on how I “made it” in the entertainment industry. After a slight verbal lashing about how I haven’t yet “made it” – I’m a little bitter, so what? – I imparted the only advice that worked for me: Do internships.

If the entertainment/media industry is where you want to build a career, take it from me: being an intern is the only way to get your grubby little recent graduate foot in the otherwise closed and fastened door. Doing internships will not only get you the experience you need on your resumé, they encourage some serious personal growth.

If the Bank of Dad allows it, and you have a killer immune system, do as many internships as you can. Do them in varying aspects of the wide world of media and do them all at the same time if you have to.

While interning you will learn that interns make the media world go round. Whether it’s filling an audience, doing coffee runs, studio running for a live television show or simply delivering scripts to impatient actors, interns are an integral cog in the wheel of entertainment. Because of this simple fact, I will never ever treat any intern (or co-worker for that matter, since they were probably once an intern themselves) with anything but hardened respect.

Unfortunately, not everyone in the industry shares my empathy for those lower on the food chain, so it was really nice to meet someone who, like me has done a lot with her time as a recent grad, and who shares in my philosophy of “do unto interns as you would have them do unto you.”

Meet Linda Chep: a young woman who has been a model scout, a music publicist for mega Canadian bands such as Metric, Arcade Fire and Sum 41, and is now manager of the hot new modeling agency Coco Model Management in Yorkville, Toronto.

I met Linda recently and got to pick her brain about how she has made it so far up the entertainment industry ladder in such a short time.

Chep graduated two years ago from Brock University with a major in Popular Culture and a minor in Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse, and she said she knew early on that she would end up in the entertainment industry. Two days after commencement, she was at an interview with Joanne Setterington, founder of Indoor Recess, who was quick to take Chep under her wing and give her a position with the company, as a music publicist.

After working with Indoor Recess for a while, Chep took some time off and realized a switch out of music and into the modeling industry would suit her best. Chep thought back to a previous internship she did with Elite Model Management in Toronto in 2006, and what she learnt from her mentor (and boss) Alicia Bell.

The most important thing that Chep learned, and coincidentally what moved her up the entertainment industry ladder, was that building relationships with interns is an important piece of the puzzle. She was lucky to have employers who allowed her to jump right into the thick of things and take on aspects of the job she was most interested in. Chep told me, “You have to know what you want to do. Time is money and if you’re working for someone, especially if it’s for free, it better have something to do with whatever you’re interested in.”

Chep said she thinks it’s because she had such great role models while completing her own internships that she is motivated to make the most out of the interning experience for others. Whether it’s styling photo shoots or helping with interviews, the interns at Coco are treated as equals and, as a result, the team there ends up feeling a lot more like a family than a work place.

Along with Chep, I am very enthusiastic about internships. They are a great way to figure out not only if you have what it takes to do the job, but if you enjoy what the job entails. Internships are a great way to find out something different about yourself, allow for a lot of personal growth and give you the experience you will need to “make it” in this industry.

Please note the following corrections were made to this article July 3, 2009: Chep was offered the position of music publicist with Indoor Recess, not an internship, and her internship with Elite Model Management was completed in 2006, before she graduated.