Kara Klontz (B ’16) – GEMA NY Extern
Imagine being handed a behind-the-scenes pass to a company you’ve dreamed of working for. Now, imagine having that happen to you four times a day, five days in a row, in New York City. Oh, and your insiders at these companies are fellow Georgetown Hoyas. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Well that’s what the GEMA Externship is like. As a graduating senior, there truly was no better way for me to get a first-hand glimpse into what it’s like to work in the entertainment and media industry, and to connect with the Georgetown alumni who have made it there.
I applied to be a GEMA extern because I want to be a journalist, and by my senior year I’d realized how hard it is to break into the news industry. During my externship I was lucky enough to meet with professionals at Time Inc., NBC News, Fox News, BuzzFeed, and many more companies I would love to work for one day. Not only did this experience give me the chance to network with alumni who work at these companies, it showed me how to forge your own path into an industry with no set track. And let me tell you, that is no small feat.
Most importantly, the GEMA externship helped me realize the true depth of Georgetown’s alumni presence in the entertainment and media industry. To all of the generous alumni who set aside the time out of your busy schedules to sit down and speak with me: thank you so very, very much. You inspire me, and make me proud to be a Hoya!
Chris Almeida (C ’16) – GEMA NY Extern
When I applied for the GEMA Externship, I knew was that I was going to New York City during my spring break to talk to Georgetown graduates who worked in some forms of entertainment and media. But, who were these alumni? I’d seldom heard of former Hoyas who didn’t work in government, law, or finance. I wanted to work in journalism, but I doubted that Georgetown had alumni who worked at my outlets of interest, simply because work in media wasn’t very visible on campus.
But, during my externship, I was able to meet with writers and editors at publications including FiveThirtyEight, Sports Illustrated, and Entertainment Weekly. Some of these alums were even recent graduates who had worked for the same student publication where I discovered my interest in journalism. We were able to talk about silly quirks in our shared organization and talk about the path from Georgetown to working for a major outlet. It’s easy to find general accounts of how writers found their way from college to their position in the industry, but to connect with others who shared my exact position in the recent past was much more helpful.
While these alums were able to provide me with direct guidance in my industry of interest, the rest of the week gave me a look at other related industries. The other externs and I were able to meet with alumni who worked everywhere from major film companies to Major League Soccer. Through an alumnus at ABC, I was even introduced to a producer who worked extensively at ESPN Films, which has produced many of my favorite documentaries.
The GEMA Externship didn’t just provide me with connections in my fields of interest, but gave me a look at the inner workings of newsrooms, studios, and offices that I would never see otherwise. More so, the week helped me realize that there are many grads willing and able to help fellow Hoyas who are looking to blaze atypical post-grad trails.
If you’re looking to work in a creative field, at Georgetown, it’s often easy to feel like you don’t fit in. But, during my externship, I realized that even though I was in a small minority as far as Georgetown grads go, I was far from alone.
Isaiah Jones (C ’16) – GEMA LA Extern
One word to sum up my GEMA Externship experience: phenomenal.
I’ll admit that I was hesitant to apply to a program that did not cover any expenses for traveling across the country. But getting accepted and participating in the GEMA Externship was one of the best experiences of my Georgetown career. Having never been to the West coast before, I was very excited, but had a lot to prepare for. However, I was fortunate enough to have the support of alumni who housed me and chauffeured me around to some of my meetings to make the week very manageable.
I knew my specific focus on music would be hard to cater to, but my expectations were exceeded with the knowledge I gained and people I met in one week. The first day I met Evan Hainey, a talent manager and GU alum, who represents many famous actors/actresses. Coincidently, his career began with Motown Records and it was interesting to hear his career journey. A meeting with Michelle Katz, a GU Law alum, with William Morris Endeavor Agency proved to be very beneficial as well. Working in music business and legal affairs, she serves as an attorney for music managers and artists and explained who works on an artists’ team and their roles.
My meeting with Bob Valentine, CFO and COO of Concord Music Group, was one of my most insightful meetings. Along with important recommendations, he shared with me his knowledge about music management and the industry as a whole. Amanda Marks, Sr. Director of Business Development at Apple and another GU alum, gave me a quick lesson about the current trends in music, information that anyone breaking into the industry should know.
While I was very much looking forward to meeting people in the music industry, I absolutely loved the group meetings. YouTube Space LA and meeting Liam Collins was great. That facility was amazing and I am glad people are being given the space and tools to create. Walt Disney Studios was as great as anybody would imagine. Jim Whitaker, of Whitaker Entertainment, was truly inspirational. I think every extern that was there will say they were touched by his story and became even more committed to their craft. But one of the biggest highlights was being on the set of Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. It turns out that the writer for the movie is a Georgetown alum. As the final meeting, it was the perfect culminating moment to sit back and watch artists at work. And I met Seth Rogen, who just happens to be one of my favorite comedic actors, no big deal.
It was a busy and tiring week, but I can say that it greatly influenced my future plans in a monumental way. Information that I wish I would have gotten years ago, I received in one week. I now know more about the entertainment and music industry and can be more thoughtful about my career path after graduation. I now know possible and the best next steps to take and have tremendously increased my network in the industry.
Going into the week, I was unsure if music marketing/management would be something I would enjoy waking up every morning to do. I was glad to find out that it is a very viable career for someone wanting to marry their passion for music and business skill sets. The fact that everyone was candid with us and loved what they did, made the externship even better. I did not know there were so many influential alums in the entertainment and media industry. But I am glad to be going into an exciting industry with so many other Hoyas willing to help.
Kim Bussing (C ’16) – GEMA LA Extern
Up until last summer, I didn’t think there was really an industry behind films and television, let alone that I could actually be part of it. I kind of assumed that movies just happened, and that writing them was a daydream I could carry around while pursuing more practical careers. But probably like many people in Hollywood, I took impossibility as a challenge.
Knowing no one, I impulsively decided to forgo all my business-oriented plans I’d crafted at Georgetown and move to L.A. for the summer to intern at a production company and The Hollywood Reporter. Coming back to Georgetown for senior year was one of the hardest things I had to do.
I knew I had to get back to L.A., and most importantly, back to a community where people were passionate about film and storytelling. I began to think that coming to Georgetown had been a mistake if this was the future I wanted, until I found GEMA.
My summer in L.A., I had started to build my own network, started to get a foothold for the city and the industry’s landscape, but when I went back for the GEMA trip this spring break, I realized that going to Georgetown had not been a mistake.
While the university might be notorious for its finance and international affairs ties, its Hollywood network is just as strong, and I was able to meet with people who had been sitting in the same ICC chairs as me years before and who now held careers that I admired from afar. As impressive as their resumes, and busy their schedules might be, they still took the time to peel away the mystique surrounding the industry.
If I had ever wanted an education about entertainment, GEMA was it. In one week, we bounced from studio lot to studio lot, from talent agency to production company to movie set. People whose movies I had devoured, whose career I was desperate to emulate, sat down and walked us through the process of going from starry-eyed newcomer to an industry leader. Although they all came from different backgrounds and had predictably unpredictable paths, their ultimate advice was the same: be kind, respectful, and hard working. Be compassionate; the industry, no matter how it may look, is a collaborative one stuffed with equally creative people with different creative strengths. Everyone starts out at the bottom. Take risks. Embrace failure: there’s plenty of it, but it’s only going to help you grow, as long as you can learn from it.
For so long, the movie industry had been little more than magic to me. GEMA didn’t change that. The magic was just no longer in movies and television shows appearing out of nowhere; instead, it was in the people, so driven by, and passionate about, a need to tell stories that they wouldn’t let anything or anyone stop them from realizing even their most impossible dreams.