Liv Larsen had an extraordinary senior year at Michigan State University — to say the least. The former journalism student, with a minor in documentary film studies, along with her crew produced a documentary called “From Flint” that won a student academy award in 2016.
In May, Larsen moved to New York City to fulfill her passion of working for a production company at 4th Row Films. As a production intern, she was assigned three documentaries to work on. She came up with different ideas for the director and tried to put her spin on the little details when she saw an opportunity. She even got to attend a few of the shoots.
“I really got to see first hand how different people interview,” Larsen said. “The director’s style was different from my style and I was able to see how to set up the whole production in the real world.”
She excels at the logistics behind the shoot, “Whether it’s applying for grants, setting up the location or making sure everyone’s on the same page; I really enjoy these aspects,” said Larsen.
Larsen claims that her favorite part of the internship was collaborating with other interns.
“The interns pretty much got free reign to give ideas,” Larsen said. “It was great to have that group and connection, in case we wanted to collaborate on future projects together.”
To her surprise, after completing her internship in New York City, Larsen found herself wanting to try her hand in independent filmmaking. After completing her award-winning documentary in Professor Bob Albers’ class, she thought she wanted to work for a large production company, shooting films, but realized that she had a desire to pursue her own personal film style.
“I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for my student film,” Larsen said. “After it won a Student Academy Award, our crew filed to work with an actual distribution company, which is amazing.”
Larsen said no member of her crew had actually been to Flint before creating this film. The main task of the film was to see how they could get involved with the community of Flint and make an impact.
“After doing basic internet research, we met with a few people, which turned into more people,” Larsen said. “The film started to unfold and the community of Flint embraced us with open arms. Our crew just took it one step at a time. The whole thing was a puzzle we put together, since we only had a semester to do it. It was so rewarding at the end.”
Currently, Larsen is still living in New York City, pursuing her dream of independent filmmaking. She’s doing freelance work, which involved working on a project for Netflix, and currently producing another independent documentary film.
Her interest in documentary filmmaking evolved over time as she added new skills and learned more about the field.
“I have always been involved in the arts as a kid,” Larsen said. “Then I came to MSU and I had my journalism major, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with just that. After joining Telecasters and SideShow, I wanted to get more involved.”
Larsen always liked documentaries because they went further into telling stories and resonated with people a little more. She enjoys how one documentary can cover so much and bring out the layers of an issue.
She said the difference between her crew’s coverage of Flint and every other major news outlet was their angle. The networks were covering the city of Flint based on the government. Larsen and her crew covered Flint based on the people.
“Everybody can relate to someone else,” Larsen said. “You can emphasize with someone and try to understand their tragedy. Everyone has a story worth telling. So to me, it’s a mission to find these stories that are untold and tell them in a way that’s never been done before.”
By Meg Dedyne
As the editor of her high school yearbook during her senior year, advertising senior Sarah Goodyear knew she wanted to continue her passion for visual art.
“I really enjoy designing, but designing for a purpose,” Goodyear said. “I think it’s awesome to be able to give a company or organization a voice. Each place I’ve worked for has had their own style. That’s really exciting to me.”
Goodyear is currently using her minor in graphic design as an intern in the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) at Michigan State University. She has been creating graphics for OISS since May 2016. She designs flyers, event posters and social media graphics for any event or internal messaging that needs a visual component.
“When I am first given the content for the graphic I am supposed to create, I look over the content and decide what is the most important piece of information to highlight,” Goodyear said. “I decide how to lay out the information on the page, starting with the text. Sometimes I even draw it out. I love it, because I pretty much have complete creative freedom, as long as I make sure I am sticking with the brand standards for MSU and OISS.”
Her favorite part of this internship is working with the people in the office.
“It’s been so much fun learning about different cultures,” Goodyear said. “I never would have seen myself working with so many different people with different backgrounds, so it’s definitely been one of my favorite places to work.”
Goodyear said she collaborates with other staff members and students on a daily basis and that she is fortunate to work on campus.
“Working for an MSU department is awesome,” Goodyear said. “I feel like a part of the university as a whole.”
Goodyear said that her coworkers and different experiences she has encountered in the office helped prepare her for a trip to Shanghai, China in November. She was part of a group of students from the Department of Advertising + PR that competed in the annual One Show Greater China Festival.
“My supervisor, Skyin, is from China, so she was giving me a lot of helpful information,” Goodyear said. “So many other people in the office already having that international experience made it a lot easier of a transition once I got over there.”
She also participated in the Minds (Wide) Open competition at MSU in September and her team received second place for their creative campaign ideas.
Minds (Wide) Open has a concept similar to the competition in China, but on a smaller scale. Goodyear was on a team with one other American and five Chinese students and, together, they created a fully-integrated ad campaign for their client.
There were 80 students from various parts of the world that came to MSU for Minds (Wide) Open. After Goodyear’s experience at the One Show Greater China Festival in Shanghai, she better understood the barriers that one has to overcome when developing and designing a campaign in a foreign country.
“It was a great experience, but pretty challenging,” Goodyear said. “The whole competition was in Chinese, so there was a language barrier. The students were great and we had translators, which was helpful, but it made it harder to work on the brief. Both competitions were incredible experiences.”
The client in China was Snickers and they had to develop a campaign around the popular Chinese app, QQ. Goodyear said it was most difficult to come up with ideas for QQ, since their team had just been introduced to the app.
Goodyear also designs for The Red Cedar Log, MSU’s yearbook. The photographers and writers send her photos and content and then she designs the pages.
“It’s really fun reading all of the stories in the yearbook,” Goodyear said. “There are some really awesome student groups that I have never heard of before.”
After graduation in May 2017, Goodyear would like to end up at an agency where she can use creative freedom and express her ideas.
“I am super thankful for MSU and my classes here,” Goodyear said. “If I went to a different school, I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities.”
By Meg Dedyne
Advertising senior Monica Fleming gained exposure to the media industry strengthened her public speaking and presentation skills, and gained personal and professional confidence all in one short summer at Starcom USA in Chicago.
Starcom, USA is a media and advertising agency that specializes in technology and data. Fleming said throughout her internship with Starcom, she developed an unexpected interest in the technology sector.
As a digital media intern, Fleming would work on individual projects and reach out to partners such as Spotify, Pandora, Yahoo and Google in order to track impressions based on whether they were over or under expectations for that month. If impressions were under, she would negotiate another campaign to try to increase exposure.
One cool aspect of Fleming’s internship was that she exclusively worked on the Wrigley Company account, and the digital delivery team, giving her a lot of experience. Along with keeping up with competitor’s campaigns, like Starbucks and Skittles, she also got to practice her presentation skills.
“One of my goals was to work on my speaking skills,” Fleming said. “I started out with giving short presentations to my team on industry news, AP trends, actualizing budgets, media tools and sponsored post commercials. Each week I would add more and more and I started to notice how comfortable I was getting. I think what helped me is that in the beginning, I told myself that everyone was an intern and in college at some point and not everyone was always great at public speaking. It takes practice.”
Starcom helped Fleming grow both professionally and personally.
“At the beginning of my internship, I was definitely more timid,” Fleming said. “You don’t always know what the boundaries are when starting a new position. If you would have told me all of the things I accomplished and the experience I gained at the beginning of my internship, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
One of the things Fleming strived to do during her internship was always keep busy and always ask if there was anything more she could be doing to help her team.
Fleming also wrote biweekly newsletters for her team, keeping them up-to-date with Adweek tips, fun facts about people on the team, and other news and information she found during her research.
“I was surprised at how many moving parts there are when you are working in media,” Fleming said. “I once took a media planning course and it was kind of intimidating. I never really saw myself doing a lot of programming, but then I found that I really like the media landscape. This summer my focus was what’s happening now and the newest trends associated with that.”
Fleming said her biggest piece of advice would be to get comfortable with being interviewed. She suggests trying to do as many interviews as possible to practice and improve your skills.
“By now, I feel like I have it down, especially with phone interviews. I got more confident and in the end, those practice interviews prepared me for my interviews with Starcom,” Fleming said.
Fleming also recognized that her educational experiences helped her to get the most out of her internship.
“In the end, I think MSU definitely prepared me for Starcom,” Fleming said. “And ComArtSci prepared me well for different aspects in the media industry.”
By Meg Dedyne
California native Emma-Jean Bedford dreams of being a producer at a late night show one day. The journalism junior has already landed two production internships, one at CONAN in Los Angeles last summer, and the second working on the set of The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon in New York City this summer.
Bedford got her start in broadcasting in high school. She worked her way through reporting and directing before she started producing. When she came to MSU, she decided entertainment news was a better fit for her outgoing personality.
“Entertainment news is fun and we still get a point across,” she said.
As a production intern at CONAN, Bedford helped with everything from researching guests to preparing the stage for rehearsals. She learned about all the pieces that go on behind the scenes in order to put a show together as one cohesive unit.
Her most memorable time on-the-job was the two weeks the show moved to San Diego for Comic-Con. Bedford was promoted to production assistant and got to take on more responsibility.
“We basically had to move the entire production to another city,” Bedford said. She made decisions about the layout of the studio, like choosing Conan’s dressing room and designing the route guests would take to the stage.
“I was really excited. I had the opportunity to voice my input and they listened,” she said.
Bedford said her experience at CONAN helped her get the internship with Jimmy Fallon this summer.
As a freshman at MSU, Bedford had been watching every late night video she could find on YouTube. She tracked down an intern who appeared in a video with Conan and reached out to him over email. She told him how much she wanted to work for Jimmy Fallon and asked him how he got an internship in late night television.
Through a Facebook friend, she later got in touch with an MSU alumnus who interned with Conan. The former Spartan told Bedford that Conan’s internship supervisor was also a Michigan State alumnus. Because of her work experiences, Bedford got the job.
Then, while she was working at CONAN, the intern she found through YouTube came to visit her with good news: he had just been hired as a script assistant at Jimmy Fallon.
“I just kept in touch with him and said, ‘hey, I wanted to let you know I submitted my application for Jimmy Fallon,’” Bedford said. The folks she worked with at CONAN also helped her send her resume over to Jimmy Fallon. After a few rounds of interviews, Bedford found out she got the job.
“I would not have secured these two internships if I didn’t come to Michigan State,” Bedford said. “If it wasn’t for the people here that believe in me and encourage me to do what they believe I can do, I don’t know where I would be.”
In connection with her internships, Bedford received the Adrienne M. Johns Communication Arts and Sciences Internship Award and the Bonnie Bucqueroux Memorial Fund Scholarship.
Bedford offered up some advice for her fellow ComArtSci students who are looking for work experiences: network.
“You need to make sure they know who you are,” she said. She also encouraged students to use the resources available to them, like career advising in room 181 ComArtSci.
She also said it’s important to be willing to try anything.
“Always commit and if you have a question later, figure it out,” she said.
By Kelsey Block
During a class taught by Media and Information Instructor Lisa Whiting Dobson, Elishia Johnson took a tour of the WKAR studios and students were encouraged to apply for positions with the network. Johnson filled out an application that night and now is an intern for WKAR-TV where she does set staging, runs cameras, edits TV promotions and floor directs.
“Being able to travel and work staging for live productions like Silver Bells in the City and the Michigan Blues and Jazz Festival are a few of the most interesting things I have done at WKAR,” said Johnson, a Media and Information senior. “Being involved in these productions from set up to tear down prepares me to be able to do these things on my own for future jobs.”
After graduation, Johnson hopes to attend graduate school and find a job in video production.
“I am especially interested in documentaries and nonprofits,” she said, “I want to be able to tell the stories of people whose stories need to be heard. I also would like to instruct classes on video production. Most of all, I hope that after graduation I will be able to use my skills to give back to the community.”
But first Johnson is getting the opportunity at WKAR to work on real sets and experience the flow of real productions. She said the WKAR staff is committed to students and take the time to help guide them.
Before working at WKAR, Johnson had a video production internship at Peckham Inc.
She says her Communication Arts and Sciences classes have helped with her internships by giving her hands-on experience in the classroom.
“The coursework in ComArtSci classes mock real life situations,” Johnson said, “and our professors and instructors push us to strive for no less than professional standards.”
Johnson has long had a love for media and technology and was involved with media and technology activities all throughout high school. She says she enjoys the connection of expressing yourself while telling a story and provoking emotion from an audience.
“I like video production because it allows you to express yourself in many ways,” she said. “You have to be able to think logically, critically, analytically, but you are also able to tap into your inner creativity at the same time.”
WKAR offers opportunities for student employment and internships in media production (TV, radio and online), fundraising, marketing and promotion, and office administration. More than two dozen students are employed or hold internships each semester.
For more information on internship opportunities at WKAR, contact the WKAR main office, Communication Arts and Sciences Building Room 212, at 517-884-4700.
As soon as she was old enough to know what news was, Micaela Colonna decided to be a journalist.
“I said I want Katie Couric’s job,” Colonna said.
The Michigan State University student is well on her way. She spent this past summer living in New York City and working as a broadcast intern for NBC Universal’s “TODAY.”
“It’s still amazing,” said Colonna, a senior who is double majoring in Journalism and Political Science.
“TODAY” interns rotate throughout the studio, working in the control room one day and going out on shoots the next. Colonna said her favorite spot in the rotation was the control room.
“It was really neat to just be there and see how the control room works. It’s very crazy. Sometimes things get to the last minute and you’ve got to pull it off, just like that,” she said. “It’s amazing to see how crazy things can be and you never really know while you’re watching.”
Before making it to “TODAY,” Colonna was busy trying out every aspect of the news industry, including radio, print and television. She worked at IMPACT 89FM, The State News and Focal Point before first interning at to The Ellen DeGeneres Show and then “TODAY.”
Colonna’s experience in so many different areas of journalism has helped her refine her passion.
“I always knew I wanted to do television,” she said. “I went to Ellen and producing was it, for the most part. I still think reporting would be fun, but ultimately, I would love to produce.”
While at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Colonna helped produce some of the segments. She also helped find guests to appear on “TODAY.”
“It’s so neat to watch weeks and weeks’ worth of work become a segment on the show,” Colonna said. “I feel like I can do it. They liked it. If they didn’t they’re not going to air it; it’s national television. But I think the fact that they like what I’m giving them is a very positive thing.”
The College of Communication Arts and Sciences has been instrumental in Colonna’s success, she said. It’s given her a foundation for understanding what journalism is and how to practice it – everything from learning how to ask questions to knowing the jargon of the industry.
“Learning how to interview, learning what looks good in a television package, what you might change and knowing how to communicate with people has been the most valuable part of all of it,” she said. “You have to know what you’re doing to make it look right and have the producers trust you and be a reliable person they can go to.”
Colonna also offered up some advice for other students.
“As corny as it sounds, just go after what you really want to do,” Colonna said. “Never in a million years did I think I would end up at Ellen, and the ‘TODAY’ show has always been my dream. It really puts it into perspective that there are students who get those internships. If that is something you want, you can get there. You just have to be persistent, be determined, and network as much as you can.”
By Kelsey Block, Journalism and Arts and Humanities double major
Months before graduating from MSU, Lilli Khatibi, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism this past spring, began searching for job and internship opportunities. It was then she learned about the broadcasting internship program with the Detroit Tigers.
“I tried to be really proactive about job and internship opportunities,” Khatibi said. “I spent a lot of time online looking through different websites and I found this one on Tigers.com and applied.”
As a broadcasting intern, Khatibi worked in the radio booth and in different facets of the operation helping with media relations, marketing and park operations.
“On non-game days, I scheduled interviews for the Jim Price Show, answered phone calls and fan emails, and prepared radio sponsor reads for Dan Dickerson (Lead Play-by-Play Radio Announcer for the Detroit Tigers) and Jim Price (Color Commentator for the Detroit Tigers Radio Network),” Khatibi said. “During games, I was in the radio booth with Dan and Jim, and I helped feed them useful statistics and information about players and teams that they used in their broadcast.”
Khatibi’s internship helped show her the challenges and excitement of working in sports communication.
“It taught me a lot about the fast-paced environment and unpredictability that comes with working in the sports world,” she said. “The experience kept me on my toes and challenged me to think outside the box.”
Khatibi hopes to continue working in the sports industry and use the skills she learned while working for the Tigers and at the many other internships she has had including for USA Hockey, FOX 2 News-WJBK, FOX Sports Detroit, WKAR’s “Current Sports” and MSU Athletics.
“I hope to pursue a job in sports communication, specifically digital and social media. I’ve held internships in social media for different organizations and really enjoyed them,” Khatibi said. “Hopefully one day I can be head of digital content for a professional team.”
When she started at Michigan State University, creative advertising senior Samantha Kaufman said she had never heard of copywriting. Now Kaufman is preparing for a career in the industry, specifically a position with Target.
A copywriting internship with the retailer in Minneapolis, Minn., last summer helped her to get her foot in the door. Working with the weekly ad team, Kaufman helped to explore multiple channels for promoting weekly ad content.
While in Minneapolis, the Traverse City native lived with three other Target interns.
“Ten weeks flew by and I think Minneapolis stole my heart,” Kaufman wrote on her LinkedIn profile.
Once an engineering student, Kaufman turned to advertising to express her creativity, and she hasn’t looked back since.
“I’ve always really loved art and I wanted to just take a new direction. It clicked with me that engineering was not as artistically creative as I wanted it to be,” she said.
So, as a freshman, Kaufman joined MSU’s American Advertising Federation (MSUAAF).
“It was a really big deal that I got in as a freshman,” she said. “Through that experience, I learned about strategy and how copywriting is the idea behind the entire thing.”
Kaufman heard about the internship with Target through a former MSUAAF president. Now president of MSUAAF herself, Kaufman is excited to help provide other ComArtSci students with similar opportunities.
“It’s really cool being able to get the young blood in there and seeing their excitement and passion,” she said. “I’m going to miss them a lot.”
Among the advice Kaufman has for younger students is the importance of getting to know the faculty.
“Our adviser, Dave Regan, he has our backs. If you get to know him, he will do anything to help you, and a lot of our professors have the same attitude,” she said. “I always try to say ‘thank you’ to them.”
She also hopes students work hard to demonstrate their passions.
“Going to school and getting good grades isn’t enough. You have to show you’re really passionate about what you’re doing outside of that,” she said. “One of the greatest things about MSU is the opportunity to be face-to-face with other students. And a ton of our professors are actually from the industry, and they bring in great guest speakers; a lot of those are underutilized. Take advantage of the opportunities unique to being at MSU.”