Los Angeles or local?

by Laine Bernstein

Most college internships are simply stepping-stones to different jobs down the line after graduation. For recent Chapman graduate Lilli Weiner, her internship also happened to be her dream job.

For students who hope to find their dream job in college too, the goal is to start working early and often, Weiner said.

“I started working almost right away when I started college, tried a few different things and just figured out what worked for me,” Weiner said.

What worked for her, it turns out, is similar to what many other students prefer as well: she spent her last semester at Chapman commuting to and from Los Angeles two days a week.

L.A. is a popular job destination for plenty of students seeking experience in some of the most popular majors at Chapman, such as film and television, public relations and advertising and communication studies, said Sandra Robbie, career relations assistant at the Career Development Center (CDC).

Weiner interned and now works full time at Richemont Group, a management company, where she works in entertainment marketing and public relations. Richemont manages brands like Chloe, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, among others. Formerly a public relations and advertising major, Weiner said she worked more locally until she found her niche in L.A.

“It’s hard to throw yourself into a job or internship all the way up in L.A. if you haven’t really worked before,” Weiner said. “It’s a big transition and a lot of work managing school and a job so far away.”

Robbie echoed this statement, encouraging students to be realistic with their expectations.

“Managing a full-time class load and a job in Los Angeles can be much harder than it seems, and significantly harder than a local job, which I think students sometimes can underestimate,” Robbie said. “Factoring in the traffic and travel time can be a deal breaker.”

Some students, like junior public relations and advertising major Hannah Darbourne, prefer to stay close to Chapman for their internships.

Darbourne worked at Zoe Productions as a marketing intern last semester. She was in charge of social media, which included Twitter and Facebook, and also helped with their branding guidelines books and helped set up an entertainment event.

She shared similar concerns with other students who choose to work locally.

“I decided to stay local because as the internship was unpaid, I couldn’t spend the money on gas to drive back and forth to L.A.,” Darbourne said. “Working in Orange also allowed for very flexible hours in between classes and even allowed me to have more time to take on a second paid job. I liked being able to walk to the office and avoid sitting for hours on the I-5 freeway.”

The CDC caters to students seeking opportunities both locally and in L.A., both in-person and online via Panther Connect.

“We have our online portal, which has over a thousand different opportunities for different industries,” Robbie said. “When students come into our office, though, we encourage them to have their dream list of where they would like to intern, and then we work with them to try to get in the door there.”

While both Weiner and Darbourne found their respective internships from sources outside the CDC, Robbie said that there is a definite trend in those students seeking help finding job opportunities.

“We have something from every major but of course those majors that require internships, we see much more of,” Robbie said.

“Communication studies, film and television, integrated educational studies and business students are the most common.”

Weiner said she thinks that some industries are more conducive to jobs that require that extra commute.

“With film and television and PR especially, I think that people looking to break into the industry would have better luck and more opportunities by casting a wider net.”

Darbourne agrees, despite her desire to stay local for the time being.

“If there is a career available to me in L.A., I would absolutely take it, but only after I graduate,” Darbourne said. “L.A. can be very exciting and I like the city life. The only downside is the traffic.”

Regardless of where students look for work, Robbie emphasizes the importance of putting yourself out there early and learning what works for you.

“I think internships are so important because they really are the foundation of what you want to do for the rest of your life and help you see what you like and don’t like,” Robbie said. “And just because it maybe doesn’t work out the first time doesn’t mean that it might not work out the next time, because you have a better picture of what is ahead. Sometimes it just takes time to adjust.”

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