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Students take part in L.A., NYC summer programs

Sixty-eight students representing several majors have been participating this summer in a domestic summer internship programs in both Los Angeles and New York. While in their respective cities, students take an academic course on Mondays and complete internships the rest of the week. The structures of the nine-week programs vary, but students receive the same general experience, as they live, take classes and do internships in a major American city.

(Follow the students’ experiences on the program blogs at http://eloninla.wordpress.com/ and http://eloninnyc.wordpress.com/.)

Elon in Los Angeles entered its fourth year this summer with 39 students, who are interning at places such as Panavision, Martin Chase Productions, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Conan,” “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” Original Productions, Rogers & Cowan and Lionsgate. (See where the students are interning.)

Students in the Elon in LA program.

For their class, students can choose between Production (taught by Elon in LA program coordinator J. McMerty), Entertainment Public Relations (led by Hollywood PR veteran Brad Lemack of Brad Lemack & Company Public Relations) or Advanced Acting for Cinema (led by actress Marilyn McIntyre). Parts of Monday are spent in a classroom, where students get instruction in their area. But time is often made for outside group activities that might include tours of working studios like Warners Bros. and Disney or an opportunity to be part of the live studio audiences for “The Price Is Right.”

While students spend their summers taking the class that most interests them, they all work together during their nine weeks on the larger, end-of-summer project—the five short films that will eventually be screened at the American Film Institute. The films are produced and directed by students in the production class and star students in the acting class. The PR students, then, put together press kits containing plot synopses, cast lists and production bios to circulate to attendees.

To this point in the summer, students say Elon in LA has been an enriching and valuable experience for them.

“It’s going very well. It’s awesome,” said Will Anderson, a junior media arts & entertainment major interning at Panavision and Smuggler Productions. “A fun fact about Will Anderson is that he was that little dork sitting at home on his computer as a junior in high school following the Elon in LA blog. Now it’s cool to be here blogging about my own experiences. Elon in LA is the reason I was even sold on considering Elon, to be honest.”

Back east, Elon in New York City is in its third year. And this summer, 29 students are participating in the program that puts them in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world. Students are interning at locations such as Abrams Media, Summer Stage, UBS, Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation, MTV Networks, Universal Motown Republic Group, “NBC Nightly News” and the Hearst Corporation. (See where the students are interning.)

Students in the Elon in New York City program.

All students are enrolled in a course called “The Streets of New York City” that requires them to choose a street, neighborhood or region to study during their nine weeks in the Big Apple. They’ll research the history of the area, talk to people who live or work there and generally observe the action and surroundings. At the end of the program, they’ll produce an ethnographic study that will detail their specific corners of Manhattan. (Check out the streets the students are studying.)

Helping them navigate the course and the summer in New York are four Elon faculty and staff members who spend two weeks apiece in the city. Nonprint librarian Lynne Bisko kicks off the program and explains the history of the city to the students. She organizes a bus tour of Manhattan and brings students to the New York Public Library. Communications assistant professor Dan Haygood takes the next two weeks and leads the “Madison Avenue” portion that incorporates discussions about marketing and advertising. It’s highlighted by trips to Young & Rubicam, Ketchum and Hill Holiday.

Performing arts associate professor Bill Webb then arrives for the “Broadway” weeks, as he teaches students how productions go from page to stage. He organizes talk backs with Broadway personnel, performers, designers and technicians. Students see the play “Wicked” and then take a backstage tour, and they visit the studio of William Ivey Long, a famous Broadway costume designer.

Assistant professor of business Michael Rodriguez, new to the Elon in NYC program, rounds out the summer teaching the “Wall Street” portion of the class, which will give the students insight into the business world. He has organized a tour of the New York Stock Exchange and conversations with a former managing director of JPMorgan and a partner of an accounting firm.

Students in the program say they enjoy the mix of topics that are covered during the summers because it gives them better insight into the city, as a whole.

“The program, in general, has been a really great experience,” says Austin Williamson, a junior accounting, finance and international studies major who’s interning at UBS. “I come from a small town in North Carolina, and I haven’t traveled much in my life, so coming up here I was very nervous. But the program integrates you into the culture very well. Not only are you learning about your internship, you’re learning about the culture of New York, which is really great.”

- Written by Colin Donohue, School of Communications

Eric Townsend,
7/15/2011 10:10 AM