Brain Health, Peanut Butter and Smuggler: An Intern’s Summer in New York

Posted on: January 22, 2016

Dani Dillon

Media and Information senior Dani Dillon spent her summer chasing down producers and filmmakers on the streets of New York City. Working as an intern for Smuggler, a commercial production company, Dillon learned about a little bit of everything, from film production to navigating the subway.

Every day was different said Dillon, who talked with clients, transported equipment and managed resources to keep filming going. She also helped work on two commercials – one for Jif peanut butter and the other, a public service announcement focused on brain health.

“You can make a mistake, but only once. After that, you have to learn and figure it out. Everything in New York is high stakes,” she said. “You have limited opportunities to work with certain people and when you have those opportunities, it’s very intimidating.”

Dillon learned about the Smuggler internship through her cousin, a freelance producer who had worked with the company in the past.

The logistics of a summer in New York were a little difficult to figure out at first. Dillon was able to stay with family, but because the internship was unpaid, money was tight. She thought about getting a part-time job while she was there, but not many places wanted an employee who was only staying for two months.

Luckily, Dillon received the MSUFCU Internship Award, which she says made her experience at Smuggler possible.

“It was incredibly beneficial,” she said. “If you’re doing an unpaid internship in New York, you have to have padding. I would have had to take out a loan without it, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it.”

As an aspiring documentarian, Dillon said her internship helped her to better understand the impact of financial support in film production.

"It's one thing when you’re a student and you have a pool of resources that are here for you to experiment with, but as someone trying to be a filmmaker and to find resources outside of school, (it’s hard) because they're not going to be handed to you by any means,” she said.

Relatedly, she encourages her fellow students to take advantage of the opportunities around the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

"There are so many things you can do - with WKAR, with different media outlets. Take them on and find out what’s interesting to you, notice what skills are coming best to you and look for positions that might be most relevant to what you’re good at. A lot of research goes with that,” Dillon said. “ComArtSci does a great job of informing students about internships; they even have posters in the back of bathroom stalls.”

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