Spotlight: NBC/Universal’s Campus 2 Career Internship Program

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In today’s post, Kim Peterson, the Coordinator of NBC/Universal’s Campus 2 Career program tells us all about how to distinguish your resume in the tall pile of submissions they receive in order to ultimately land an internship at NBC/Universal or one of the companies they own (Telemundo, anyone?). She also explains what it means to be the “rock star” intern everyone wants to hire when the semester ends. And, speaking of rock stars, she shares how she landed her first job out of college (before she even graduated from college) through her Campus 2 Career internship. 

Before we talk about what you do for Campus 2 Career, I want to get an idea of how you got into it.  Where did you go to school? How did you come to your position?  I grew up in Orange County and initially went to a junior college for about two and a half years before transferring to Cal State Fullerton. My major was adolescent development because I had thought I wanted to teach elementary school, but then I decided it was not for me. I became a communications major with an emphasis on entertainment studies. I had never really enjoyed school, but after moving into that major, I started to really love it.

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I didn’t know what I wanted to do in entertainment. To get my degree, I had to complete an internship. My career service center at Cal State Fullerton had an internship at NBC/Universal posted on their site. I applied to multiple areas within the NBC/Universal internship program and I got a call from the talent acquisition department, which is human resources, the full-time staff recruiting department at NBC. They interviewed me a couple of times on the phone and then I went in, had a couple of in-person interviews, and got that one.

I interned in the summer of 2011. About a month into my internship, the specialist in the Campus 2 Career department came to my supervisor because the temps they had in that department had found permanent jobs within the company and were gone. She really needed help with recruiting and I was offered the opportunity to become a temp in that department. I kind of had to break the rules and pretended like I completed my internship for my degree, but I wasn’t going to pass up a paid opportunity. I temped for six months in Campus 2 Career before coming into a full-time staff position.

That’s great. Tell me about what Campus 2 Career is and how that works. We recruit and handle interns here on the West Coast. There is also an East Coast team we work very closely with. We recruit for all businesses within NBC/Universal – we find marketing interns, film, TV production, development, PR, even legal, finance, and HR positions. We have about 200 interns each semester.

A big part of our jobs is to go out and actually recruit the interns. We visit a lot of local schools, like USC, UCLA, Cal State Northridge, and Cal State Fullerton. We really look for diverse schools and ones with student-run organizations where we can do free information sessions. It’s really about what is in demand at the moment. If we are recruiting for IT or engineering interns, we will go up to Harvey Mudd College (part of the Claremont Colleges, located outside Los Angeles) for their IT fairs. Once we find the interns, we “on-board” them, which means getting them set up with the right paperwork, etc.

Another part of the C2C’s job is to provide opportunities for career growth, to help with developmental skills, for the interns. We put on numerous events throughout the semester, including a Resume Workshop, Professional Essentials Workshop, a Branding Yourself Workshop, and an Informational Internship Workshop. We also do more “fun” activities like a Career Café, tram tour, and Lunch n’ Learns with executive speakers.

What’s the best way to get an internship through NBC Universal? Is it going through the website?  The best way is to know someone at NBC/Universal. We get tons of referrals and whether they are good or bad, they get to our desk. So using your networking skills helps, not just here but at any studio. If you know somebody, contact them and ask them to forward you to HR. That’s the best way to contact us.

But if you don’t know anybody, do what I did. I just applied blindly to the website. Actually, we direct all the students to apply online, even if they do come to us through a contact, so they are officially in our system. There are three of us sorting through maybe 3,000 to 4,000 candidates so it’s really hard to get to everyone. And if you go to a local school, keep your ears open. If you hear that NBC is coming to your college, make sure you stop by a booth. You can introduce yourself and give us a physical resume and we can email you later to start the process.

Do you ever hire directly into a staff position? Are you ever contacted from somebody within NBC/Universal who needs an entry level person?  Yes. A lot of temp positions are only posted internally. A department who works closely with us to get interns and trusts our judgment will come to us for a temp, someone with a specific background, to temp for a certain time. We go into our pool of rock star interns who have graduated and forward those candidates to them. We love that. We have so many great candidates and hopefully a temp position will turn into a staff position.

Another thing we do is we reach out to all of our supervisors a couple of times a semester to ask them to fill out a short survey to tell us about great interns they have. Since we don’t work with them closely day-to-day like the supervisors do, we don’t necessarily know who the standouts are. Then we keep that information in a spreadsheet so we’re able to see what they did and why they were considered the best.

What are some of the qualities or activities that help land someone on that rock star list?  They sometimes come in with internship experience, so they know how the business works. They know studio etiquette, or even just office etiquette. And they take initiative. If they feel like they don’t have a lot going on, they ask for more work. They create a new project or process the department really benefits from. They are a go-getter and willing to learn, but respectful and not too pushy. They are open to trying anything and very flexible.

What are your most popular areas? Where do you get the most applications? And then, what are some less popular areas initially, but that you think people really love once they get into them?  The most popular is anything in production or development. We never have a real shortage of those types of candidates, but human resources is not super popular. It’s not something students think about when they hear NBC/Universal. Of course, they think TV and film.

A lot of our supervisors sometimes have very specific criteria which can be challenging. One of the internships I recruit for is Telemundo. One of our journalism internships is in the Spanish speaking network so this supervisor often wants somebody who can speak Spanish, who is local, and who is a senior in college. She wants them to be about to graduate and local so if they are awesome and she wants to hire them, they are ready to be hired. But sometimes I will have a really good candidate who speaks Spanish, but is a junior and goes to college in Texas. You need to check all the boxes off and sometimes it’s difficult.

That makes sense. Thank you for agreeing to talk to me. Any final words of advice to college students who don’t have an “in”, but want to stand out in your pile of submissions?  Well, the first thing we see is their resume. I would just advise students to make it as clear as possible, super-organized, and very consistent. We look at hundreds of resumes every month so seeing a really nice one is a relief. We take the time to look at it if it’s an excellent resume. If they don’t know somebody to provide an “in,” I usually just say work your butt off to find networking opportunities. If your school has a mixer with an executive from a studio, just go. Get some business cards and start handing them out. You never know. Also, a lot of people come to me and say, “How am I going to get an internship if I have no experience, if that’s what they want?” That’s when you have to start putting yourself out there. Do volunteer work at an entertainment event, maybe. Get creative.

For more information on Campus 2 Career internships at NBC/Universal, visit their website.

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About JennyYM

Jenny Yerrick Martin is a veteran entertainment hiring executive with 20+ years in film, television, and music. She created yourindustryinsider.com to give students, recent grads and others a true picture of the layout of the industry, and how to break in, transition to a new area, or achieve more success on their current path.

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