Becoming a Rock Star Intern, Part 1

Becoming a Rock Star Intern, Part 1

My husband and I run a Hollywood internship program for our university, and the entertainment industry people we work with constantly talk about wanting “rock star interns.” Those are the ultimate interns everyone dreams of having; the kind that can turn into full-time employees if a position opens.

So, how do you earn rock star intern status?

Tip #1 – Focus on Service

While actual rock stars are widely known for their talent, rock star interns are more known for their thoughtful service—the little acts that impress. I know a student who earned his rock star title by washing everyone’s coffee cups in the company kitchen. No one asked him to; he just saw that it needed to be done and he did it. Months later, when the internship supervisor wrote the student’s evaluation, she was still referring to the coffee cups as an indicator of the student’s personality, hard work, and dedication. Small acts of service will speak volumes if they are sincere.

Tip #2 – Hold Your Opinion

While big rock stars are known as standouts for their showmanship, interns become stars by knowing their place in the background. Interns often feel at home at a company long before their bosses feel comfortable with them, so exerting opinions too soon is unwise. Pay close attention in meetings and be ready with a suggestion if you’re called upon to express it. It’s always a delicate balancing act—you want to be the intern who gets noticed but it’s risky to come off cocky. Rock star interns err on the side of caution and wait for their opinions to be asked for.

Tip #3 – Be Responsible

Finally, while famous rock stars lead notoriously wild lives of late nights, risky behavior and consistent hangovers, rock star interns would be wise to do the opposite. Getting a good night’s sleep, setting more than one alarm, and allowing a generous amount of time to get through traffic means you’ll arrive at work ahead of schedule and ready for a productive day. Rock star interns may occasionally be so far ahead of schedule that they can pick up donuts for the staff. Those may be the best few dollars you’ll ever spend!

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Kathy Bruner

Kathy Bruner is an assistant professor of Film & Media Production at Taylor University in Indiana and also co-chairs the Media Communication Department. Kathy teaches documentary filmmaking, scriptwriting and media performance. She co-coordinates Taylor University’s Hollywood Internship Program.