With help from a Career Internship Award, media and information major Michael Cauchi was able to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity interning with a nationally televised talk show in Los Angeles, Calif.
Cauchi, a senior from Novi, Mich., spent this past summer working as a Control Room Intern at “Conan,” an hour-long, late-night talk show hosted by Conan O’Brien that airs four days a week on TBS.
“It was my goal to spend the summer working in L.A., and I could not think of a more fun place to do that than ‘Conan,’” Cauchi said. “The money from the internship award was helpful because it took some of the pressure off my credits, travel and living expenses. This was essential because it allowed me to take advantage of this amazing opportunity and not worry about the cost as much.”
As a Control Room Intern, Cauchi assisted the director and crew in the daily production of the show.
“I loved everything about working at ‘Conan.’ I handled scripts, run downs, timing out song, and doing anything else that would come up throughout the day,” he said. “I was so excited to go to work everyday. It was cool to be on the Warner Brothers lot and see what was going on in the center of the film industry. It also was great to be sitting behind the director everyday learning from him and his experience.”
After he graduates in May, Cauchi would like to work in a control room, something his “Conan” internship has helped prepare him for.
“This internship has taught me a lot about the day-to-day operation of a television show at the highest level,” Cauchi said. “I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do in a professional control room. I saw what the day-to-day routine was like, learned the dos and don’ts, how a crew comes together to produce a show, and what it takes to make television at that level. Everyone there had a lot of great advice about how to navigate my way through the industry and I could not have gotten that anywhere else.
“This will be a huge advantage for me once I get a job because I will be able to adapt quickly to the professional work environment.”
The “Conan” internship also gave Cauchi the opportunity to live and work in L.A.
“I learned a lot just by living in L.A. and loved exploring the city in my free time,” he said. “I had never been there before and now when I go back to find a job, I know what to expect and won’t be so overwhelmed. Taking the risk and moving out there showed me that living 3,000 miles a way is not as scary as I thought.”
Cauchi credits the ComArtSci Center for Careers and Internships and his MSU education with helping him land and succeed at his internship.
“The career office helped me a lot to strengthen my resume and taught me how to show off my skills so I could actually get noticed,” he said. “MSU helped me gain tons of production knowledge and experience. Because of this, I was able to talk to the crew about specific things that they were doing, which really impressed them.”
The College of Communication Arts and Sciences was the first college at MSU to offer awards that financially assist students with their internship endeavors.
“The college saw a great need for this as many of our students were experiencing a financial burden to gain the necessary experience to break into competitive fields,” said Julie Hagopian, ComArtSci Academic and Career Advisor. “Not all students can afford to work at unpaid or low-paying internships far away from home. We always recommend that students have three to four internships throughout their time here, so those costs can add up quickly.”
The ComArtSci Center for Careers and Internships administers the internship awards each year in March. Students in the college who have secured summer internships can apply for support. Recipients are selected based on how well their internship aligns with their career goals, financial need and academic success.
“Selecting recipients is always a challenge,” Hagopian said. “There’s always a greater need for assistance than we’re able to grant.”
Internship awards assist students in a number of ways such as with travel, housing and living expenses. A number of the awards are endowed, perpetual gifts while others are one-time donations. The total amount awarded each year varies, but typically ranges from $20,000-$25,000.
Last year, more than $22,000 was awarded with each of the 22 students receiving around $1,000. The college would like to be able to offer more of these awards to assist an even larger population.
“Even though $1,000 may not seem like a lot, it can make a world of difference to our students in giving them an opportunity to pursue these fantastic internship experiences,” Hagopian said. “We are grateful for our donors who support these awards that assist students in pursuing an internship of their dreams.”
For information on how you can help support these awards, contact Meredith Jagutis, Senior Director for the ComArtSci Office of Advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-432-5672.
During alumna Adrienne Johns’ 35-year career as head of human resources for several major American companies, she saw how important internships are in setting the direction for your career. She also saw how many students couldn’t afford to participate in unpaid or low-paying internships. This helped motivate her to establish the Adrienne M. Johns Communication Arts and Sciences Internship Award.
The award is presented each year to qualified students in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences to help with internship expenses, such as travel and housing, so that recipients can take advantage of these life-changing opportunities and be better prepared when they graduate.
“I probably hired five or six thousand people during my human resources career,” said Johns, B.A. Communication ’70. “I found a lot of students getting out of school had absolutely no work experience. They had studied very hard, but they hadn’t participated in anything on campus that would give them an additional edge. So, I became interested in getting students more attuned to doing things like internships and participating in activities on campus.”
The award created by Johns has helped provide several internship opportunities for ComArtSci students, including internships with the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn.; WGN Chicago in Chicago, Ill.; Zoom Advertising, Ogilvy Group in Cape Town, South Africa; Target in Minneapolis, Minn.; and National Public Radio in Washington, D.C.
“When you’re lucky, I think you should pass along your luck and widen the circle as much as you can,” Johns said. “You can give back in a lot of ways and I just think that everyone should. If you can’t give back in terms of money, you can give back in terms of time. There’s so much need out there. My thing just happens to be trying to help students who need work experience.”