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Intern Insider: 'Model Interns' Absorb Versatile Internship

The first half of their day followed a familiar script. They attended meetings. They filled out paperwork. They otherwise hung out in an office and did typical, mundane intern tasks. But in Los Angeles, what first day would be complete without a trip to a television set?

Gaffney, left, and Griffin are the "model interns" at their Fremantle internship.

Initially startled by the experience in front of them, sophomore corporate communications major Kara Griffin and senior broadcast major Matt Gaffney, both of whom are interning at Fremantle Media, gathered themselves and prepared to visit the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, a reality show that pits models against each other for a spot in Dickinson’s organization. (Fremantle also produces shows such as American Idol, Family Feud and The Price is Right.)

“I guess because we haven’t been here for so long, we’re not jaded yet by all the stars and everything,” Gaffney said. “It was the first day we were on the job, so we went there and met all the models in the house and met Janice Dickinson and hung out with all the producers and directors.”

It was an exciting, fun-filled first day, to be sure. And certainly, it’s one of Gaffney’s and Griffin’s fondest memories since traveling west as part of the initial Elon in Los Angeles program. But, Griffin says, the real value of her Fremantle internship is its versatility.

“I’ve been working on a game show, working with props and the producers there,” Griffin says. “But it’s different every day, and what they want most is for me to learn, and that’s so encouraging. So if I want to go work in PR for a day, I can do that, or marketing, or stay in production.”

Both Griffin and Gaffney are the first production interns Fremantle has ever had, which is why they both have been able to experience different facets of the business. Gaffney has particularly been impressed with all he’s accomplished and learned (he’s done testing for game shows and performed stand-ins, for example) because he wants to follow a career trajectory similar to that of "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest.

“They understand what I want, and they say, ‘We can introduce you to people,’ ” Gaffney says. “They’re really helping with that, really understanding.”

Both Gaffney and Griffin secured their Fremantle internships through 2006 alumna Kristin Hegel, a production coordinator at Fremantle. (“The Elon alumni network helped out. Kristin Hegel helped out,” Griffin says.)

But the connection only helped gain them access to the building. They’ve had to prove themselves capable interns since Day 1, a task made easier by the training they’ve received in the School of Communications.

“A couple of the core classes have definitely helped me out, especially Broadcasting in the Public Interest,” Gaffney says. “It helps when you know all the positions (in a studio). Just knowing it before I came out here helped out a lot.”

“Elon,” Griffin says, “always talks about engaged learning. And I just feel like being out here is definitely that epitomized because reading about something like this in a textbook I would never have that full experience, that knowledge in my brain, that work under my belt, just the whole experience.”

Both Gaffney and Griffin work opposing two-day schedules at Fremantle: Griffin is there Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Gaffney closes the work week.

They hold other internships to fill in the days they aren’t at Fremantle—Gaffney at "Inside Edition" and Griffin at Daniel Hoff Agency. But they count Fremantle as the experience that’s given them the most so far this summer. And their enthusiasm about the job manifests in their work because their supervisors have come to dub the duo the “model interns.”

Gaffney says he wants to be an entertainment reporter, and at the end of his two-month internship. He says he hopes his model interning leads to a job offer, but practically, he says he’ll leave with a greater knowledge of the mechanisms of television production and business.

Griffin, on the other hand, is just starting her college career, so she says she’s soaking up the experience as she tries to figure out where she would like to take her career.

“I really knew nothing about the production side of television or film before this,” she says. “Now I have a much greater understanding, and I think it will definitely help me figure out what I want to actually do with my major or do in summers to come.”

But both agree that they’re going to relish their last couple of weeks at Fremantle because they’re gaining practical skills—and memories—and that will last long after they’ve flown the 2,500 miles back to Elon from L.A.

“It’s been fantastic,” Gaffney says. “I come home from work every single day, and I’ve got so many stories to talk about, all the people I meet and all the fun things I do. It’s amazing. I really do think I have one of the best internships, the most fun, the most exciting.”

Intern Insider will run one to two times a week during the summer and will feature brief stories about some of the interns from the School of Communications.

Gaffney, left, and Griffin stand next to cutouts of Ryan Seacrest and David Hasselhoff. Seacrest hosts "American Idol" and Hasselhoff is a judge on "America's Got Talent." Both shows are produced by Fremantle Media.

Colin Donohue,
Staff
7/19/2008 2:40 PM