Summer Internships: A Look into the Real World

Jessica Zisko
The Daily Aztec - San Diego St. U.
Re-printed with permission.

Since the Monica Lewinsky scandal unfolded two years ago, the word "intern" has been equated with many different connotations.

In the fast-track world of business and money, however, an internship sometimes is the only way to make the connections and get the "hands-on" experience needed to launch a career.

Hundreds of San Diego State University students spend their summers in the field preparing for their future jobs. Here's a look at some of their adventures: Joel Modelo, BA in communication.

What do Ben Affleck, pyrotechnics and Rosarito have in common?

Ask recent SDSU graduate Joel Modelo, who spent a month this summer in Baja California on the set of the upcoming film Pearl Harbor.

Modelo interned in the movie's production office, answering phones, sending faxes and running errands for people on the set.

He also learned first-hand about the craft of film and video making, which he hopes will help him as an aspiring independent filmmaker.

"It's such a different business when you're actually working in Hollywood," he said. "Money really runs the show."

Modelo began working in Rosarito a few days after he graduated from SDSU in May. He worked 15 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week — for free.

"It wasn't a lot of glamour," Modelo said. "It was work."

Pearl Harbor, starring superstars Affleck, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Alec Baldwin, is a story about two pilots competing for the love of one woman. It will open next Memorial Day.

Although Modelo didn't get the chance to talk with the film's celebrities, he said he especially liked one of his tasks: processing the stars' passports.

"Ben Affleck looked the worse," he said. "His just looked like a police mug shot. He was really scrubby — like he just woke up."

One thing he didn't know before the internship, he said, was how politics were played out in Hollywood.

"Whatever they want, they get," Modelo said. "Because of the position they held, because of their power as a celebrity, money was not an object in supplying what they needed."

Although he and his co-workers worked nonstop most of the time, Modelo said they still found time for some Rosarito fun.

"Everybody does work hard in this business," Modelo said. "But they party equally as hard."

Modelo landed the internship with the help of a few SDSU professors who told him about the opportunity.

Bruce Pastor, geography senior.

Bruce Pastor will come home with one odd memory from his internship at the California Department of Transportation this summer — sitting at the Otay Mesa border crossing for 14 hours counting trucks.

Pastor was assisting with a Federal Highway Association border study looking for ways to make the border crossing quicker for commercial vehicles.

He spent the day on the side of the freeway wearing an orange vest and an orange hard hat tallying each truck that passed by, while gauging how fast the trucks were going.

"You look really cool," Pastor said. "People yell at you. But no one threw anything this time.

"Walking to the bathroom was hard. I was scared of being run over."

When he was not counting trucks at the border, he was working on two reports — one discussing future improvements to the Balboa Avenue 274 route and another examining the opening of another border crossing in south San Diego.

"It's a fun office," Pastor said. "There are young people but there are also people that have been here for 40 to 50 years. It's fun to talk (with) them."

Unlike many interns, Pastor's time in the office comes with a paycheck. However, he said he gets paid a lot less than the regular workers, has a desk far from the people he's working for and an out-of-date computer.

"There's always stuff to do," he said. "I'm like one of the regular workers. I could have been sitting doing data entry. But I get real work."

Pastor said he hopes to continue working for CalTrans in the future. His plans are to work with city transportation.

The most unique thing about working for CalTrans? The uniform.

"We're easy to spot," Pastor said. "I don't know. I'm thinking of using it as my Halloween costume." Heather Myers, journalism senior.

Ever wondered what George Clooney and Carmen Electra look like in person? Heather Myers knows first-hand.

Myers spent eight weeks of her summer rubbing elbows with celebrities at Access Hollywood.

For the first few weeks, Myers teamed up with a field producer and helped find shots, log tapes and edit interviews for upcoming shows. The last two weeks, she was asked to be the personal assistant of Access co-host Pat O'Brien.

"It was an awesome experience," Myers said. "I had to make sure (O'Brien) was there at the right time and that he had the questions to ask the people he was interviewing and I met all the people he interviewed."

Myers said almost every day she came in contact with different celebrities. The most exciting people she met included Clooney, Mark Whalberg, Harrison Ford and Jon Bon Jovi.

"They're so cute," Myers said. "I thought the people wouldn't look good in person because they are always airbrushed, but they do."

Myers, who wants to be an entertainment journalist after graduation, applied for the internship last November.

"I'd heard that Access Hollywood is a really good place to do an internship," Myers said, "and it really was. There was so much stuff they let us do that I didn't think we were going to be able to do."

At the end of her internship, Myers was offered a job as a production assistant, but because of school, turned down the offer. She did, however, walk away from the experience with a few valuable lessons.

"I learned that you can't settle for the bottom job and that there is always room to move up," she said. "Persistence really pays off." Karen Cheung, communication senior.


... Myers was offered a job as a production assistant, but because of school, turned down the offer. She did, however, walk away from the experience with a few valuable lessons.

After her summer internship at KGTV Channel 10, Karen Cheung knows about the importance of deadlines. Cheung helped write news stories and sort scripts for anchors Bill Griffith and Lisa Lake to read on the midday newscast.

The most stressful part of her job was running scripts to the anchors during the newscast without being caught on camera. Without the scripts, the anchors would have to rely on the teleprompter to signal when they were supposed to speak.

"It was crazy and stressful," she said. "It was my fault if they didn't get them on time."

Cheung said she thought television personalities would be snobby to work for, but was surprised to find they were helpful and friendly.

"You'd think the anchors would have their own office separate from where we are," Cheung said. "But they're not. We all work together. They make us all feel we're on the same level."

The greatest thing about working for a news station, she said, was knowing what was going on before anyone else.

Cheung said she had been interested in covering news stories after graduation, but changed her mind after her internship.

"Working with the news veered me away from choosing it as a career," she said. "There is always bad news. I think I would rather do something with entertainment where there are always happy stories." Iris Rico, finance sophomore.

As San Diego County residents were run over by higher electric bills, Iris Rico learned first-hand about how an energy company runs.

Rico landed a paid internship with Sempra Energy, the parent company of several companies, including San Diego Gas and Electric. She worked 40 hours a week in the Finance and Accounting Department, helping programmers develop money management software.

"I was able to see how things I learned in school worked in the real world," Rico said. "I said to myself 'This is what I'm going to school for.'"

The most exciting moment in her internship, she said, was being taken to Sempra's command center and seeing an actual computer network for the first time.

"You hear so much about them," Rico said. "It was incredible to know monitors all over the world were hooked up to a box that was right in front of me."

Rico said working at Sempra also gave her a lot of information about the rising energy bills in San Diego.

"I understood what was going on and the details," Rico said. "I now know how an energy company runs."

The Daily Aztec sends interns across the nation Staffers of your newspaper, The Daily Aztec, spent the summer interning at some pretty prestigious media outlets across the nation — from local TV newsrooms to national magazines in the Big Apple.

Editor-in-Chief Sunny Sea Gold spent the summer in New York City interning for Popular Science magazine. She landed the spot at the 5 million-circulation periodical through the American Society of Magazine Editors internship program, which placed more than 30 interns at national magazines this summer. She wrote several pieces for the magazine that will be appearing in the September, October, November and December issues.

Managing Editor Stephanie Martin rubbed shoulders with the stars in Los Angeles as an intern for broadcast news network CNN. She produced a weekly segment, helped produce a segment on Keanu Reeves and his band Dogstar, sat in on interviews with Duran Duran and met a laundry list of stars including Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Carol Burnett and Jack Lemmon.

Tempo Editor Irene Yadao interned at Vibe magazine in New York City, as part of the American Society of Magazine Editors group. She worked primarily in the music department. She transcribed interviews (including cover story interviews with Eminem and L.L. Cool J) and updated the Vibe audience on the trials and tribulations of Marshall Mathers (Eminem) and corresponded with his lawyers.

Opinion Editor Ross von Metzke interned at KGTV Channel 10 news, helping troubleshooter Marti Emerald bust evildoers. He worked undercover for Marti and acted as liaison to the public on the SDG and E electricity rate saga.

Assistant Opinion Editor Jason Williams was a literary intern with the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. He read incoming new plays from playwrights around the world and evaluated them for possible production at the Globe.

Advertising Director Erin Maushart interned at San Diego radio station KSON as a promotions assistant, traveling all over the county promoting the station at concerts, malls, the Del Mar Fair, movie screenings and premieres and sporting events.

Photo Editor Steve Froehlich was an Olympic intern in the sports department at NBC 7/39. He updated the NBC 7/39 Olympic Web site, logged highlights of Padres games and helped Jim Stone and Jim Laslavic get live shots in the field. He interviewed San Diego Charger Ronnie Jenkins after his first touchdown and edited film for the evening news.

Senior City Staff Writer Crystal Fambrini spent her summer in Washington D.C. as an intern for ABC's World News Tonight. She covered press conferences at National Press Club, the White House and the Capital and was able to meet top broadcast journalists Peter Jennings, Cokie Roberts and John Martin.

City Staff Writer Jennifer Tzall landed a gig as an intern at CBS, helping the network cover the Democratic National Convention. She was a page for the Evening News with Dan Rather and The Early Show with Bryant Gumble and helped out the folks at Face the Nation, 48 Hours and 60 Minutes II.