The Quad Summer Internship Series
Jack Carpenter, 'Conan'
Los Angeles, California
Position: Production Intern
School: Champlain College
Major: Broadcasting and Streaming Media
How did you get the internship?
It's actually pretty ironic how I received the position. I applied to multiple late night shows for a summer internship and wasn't even offered an interview at any of them. However, previously during that academic year I created my own late night show that I produced and hosted. It wasn't until after I applied and got denied by those summer internships that my show ended up being nominated and winning an Emmy award at the College Television Awards in April.
From there, a drop of luck lead me to a connection with a distant family friend who happens to be the agent of basketball legend Larry Bird. She took me under her wing and got my work and resume into the correct hands, where I was then offered interviews at all the shows that rejected me three months prior. I ended up choosing to intern at Conan so I could experience Los Angeles as I am beginning to prospect where I should live post graduation.
What’s a typical day for you like?
After waking up on my air mattress in the corner of a living room I found off Craigslist (did I mention this internship doesn't pay?) I head off to Warner Bros studios in Burbank. Once I arrive to stage 16, I spend the morning retrieving coffee and running any other tasks the executives and talent need to start off their day. After that the interns sit in on the show's rehearsal, where we then give feedback to the writers on which bits worked and which they should cut. After that we perform various tasks, from transcribing other late night show's jokes to make sure Conan doesn't overlap, to standing in for Conan and Andy so the production can adjust lighting and sound for that episode. After that, on "good" days I get to check in and assist the guests that are on the show that day. The show tapes around 4:30, a few days per week they have interns sit in unoccupied seats in the audience which is always cool to see the show live. After the show wraps we help clean up the office and do a few administrative tasks before heading back to my air mattress.
What is your favorite part about this opportunity and what is the most challenging part about it?
Being someone that aspires to work in late night, it is fascinating to see how the show develops from scratch every single day. It's amazing how many people work on this production and it's great to see how every department works separately yet intertwines to make a successful show every day. My favorite part is working with the guests, and as deteriorating it may be, getting cheese biscuits from Red Lobster for Megan Fox or running to get Cameron Diaz her favorite bottle of $13 wine makes a great story to tell your friends who are sick of hearing your "guess who I met" stories.
What advice would you give to future interns to maximize their experience?
Have a reason to be there. There are many interns who come and go everyday without doing much or making much of an impact. However, if you have a mission, whether it is to make connections, learn how the show works, or learn what it's like the be a writer, then you will maximize your experience. As most things in life go, it is completely what you make of the experience. Not every intern is here for the same reason, not everybody wants to be a writer or host, but even those interested in any other aspect of the entertainment business are absorbing a great perspective from various departments of the show. As long as you know why you're here, it will be a very valuable experience.
How will you apply the work you’re doing here to your college experience?
In the fall I will bring my late night show back for a second season in pursuit of winning a second Emmy as well as creating a pilot to pitch to networks. So I am absorbing every ounce of knowledge I can to then apply to my own show. Everything from the development of the show, where to invest money in the show, how to book guests, and every nitty-gritty detail that the average viewer wouldn't think about in a million years when it comes to the behind the scenes of the show. Unfortunately there are a lot of things that a textbook will never teach you, so unless you put yourself in environments like this to absorb the reality of your desired industry, you may not be prepared to take it on yourself. I think my experience here will be a huge influence in the success and development of the second season of my show and I hope the rest of my student-run cast and crew will be able to pick up what I have learned as well.
Is there anything else you would like to add about what makes your internship unique?
It is a position that I am passionate about. It doesn't pay, nor do I have a large creative impact on the show, but I am absorbing the reality of this business. I think you should spend your pre-employment years chasing what you love or at least what you desire to do in life. If you have a passion towards what you are working on, the work will be much more enjoyable and will make your internship much more unique than anyone else taking the safe road.
If you have any more questions about the position or Jack's experience tweet him @Jacksoncarp