When Washington, D.C., native Steven Chew transferred to Temple’s School of Communications and Theater in 2004, he had no idea how well his education would prepare him for the unpredictable world of entertainment internships.
“I applied to VH-1 first, through a link at MTV’s Web site,” Chew said. “I was interviewed by the VH-1 news department over the phone.”
Chew landed the internship at VH-1 as a production assistant for the news department. “They had me running tapes, running errands and logging video clips word for word,” he said. Before his internship at VH-1, Chew had his eyes on another internship at Black Entertainment Television.
“The BET internship was a lot harder to apply for, because there wasn’t an internship link on their site,” Chew said. “You had to call their office in Washington, D.C., to find out how to apply.” Months after Chew had submitted his application and letters of recommendation, and while still interning at VH-1, he was called by BET for an interview.
“They explained all the shows to me, and brought in interns from the show 106 & Park to talk to me,” Chew said. “The MTV talent department interviewed me, and they were very serious. They grilled me about everything I’d done in my life up until the interview!”
Despite the heavy grilling, Chew didn’t get the internship. Rather than accept the rejection, he opted to try again. “I called BET back up, and they told me to come in for another interview.” His tireless efforts to get in touch with BET paid off in the end. Chew was asked to intern for 106 & Park, the channel’s hit music video countdown show. “There were a lot of celebrity sightings at BET,” Chew said. “I didn’t know too much about the production aspect of television, but I learned as I went along with my internships.”
Now that the dream was his, Chew had one more obstacle to overcome: the commute. Chew estimates that it takes two hours to get from Philadelphia to New York City by bus. “The commute was hard at first, but I got used to it,” Chew said. “I realized that Greyhound was the cheapest mode of transportation. Sometimes, I did my school work on the bus or I slept. Although the commute was hard, I just tried to remember that hopefully my hard work would pay off.”
Despite the difficulty of balancing an internship with school, Chew remains optimistic and believes that success is possible. He said to keep trying for your dream position, even when it seems the company will never return your call.
“Keep calling, or you won’t get it (the chance),” Chew said. As for what he liked most about working at BET, Chew said, “Making connections and learning new things make it worthwhile. [The internship process] really teaches you about the business. You have to work hard and prove yourself to get what you want.” Next up, Chew has his sights set on the Los Angeles internship program, offered by the department of film and media arts at Temple. “I’d really like to intern at a casting agency in L.A.,” Chew said. “I’d like to manage people’s careers, but I’d also like to make connections to start my acting career. I’d like to be an actor as well.”
Marta Rusek can be reached at email@example.com.