Editor's Note: This is the eighth in a series of stories about College of Communications students completing summer internships.
Two Penn Staters who earned their bachelor’s degrees in May have secured spots in highly competitive post-graduate internship positions that could provide career-launching opportunities into the entertainment industry.
While the two film-video graduates -- Casey Dexter and Nick Shugars -- have started down a somewhat similar path, they’re chasing their dreams on opposite sides of the country. Dexter is working as a production intern for “Late Night with Seth Meyers” in New York City. Shugars is working as development intern for a production company in Los Angeles.
“My dream jobs would be working as a producer on television or as a talent agent at an agency. Yes, they sound like entirely different things, and they are different,” Shugars said. “But, that’s the best thing about this internship because it’s the kind of position that exposes you to everything, puts a lot of it in your hands and would eventually make either of things possible.”
As a member of a team of interns, Shugars gets some work directed to him and has a standing assignment to interview members of the production company’s executive team.
He contributes three days a week, getting the opportunity to read scripts submitted to the company. So far, he has read about seven to 10 scripts each week, everything from action and science fiction to one script that outlined three separate short films that would be combined into an overall movie.
“That last one was interesting to see how the pieces would be connected,” Shugars said. “What’s really helpful is seeing the difference between screenwriting we did in class and what’s submitted to a production company. I’d say some of my classmates’ work would hold up, but some of the scripts the company gets are really intricately developed and the detail put into the characters is just a next-level thing. You can tell people worked on them.”
Shugars fills any slow points during his workdays by combing the company’s offices for additional opportunities. He thinks his assertive approach and the variety of skills he’s built through course work as well as previous internships have positioned him well. “I’m doing anything and everything I can,” he said. “That’s just how this business works.”
In his spare time, the northeastern Pennsylvania native has visited some Los Angeles-area tourist spots (Hermosa Beach, Hollywood Boulevard, Griffith Observatory) and attended a couple of Penn State alumni events. His apartment lease will keep him on the West Coast for a year, and Shugars things that should be more than enough time to get engaged in the industry.
Dexter, from northern Virginia, is a little closer to home for her internship. Along with the career path she shares with Shugars, she also appreciates the value of her education.
“I am very thankful for everything Penn State helped me achieve, and I would definitely not have had the courage to pursue television without support of the College of Communications,” Dexter said.
She hopes to someday work as a late-night television producer. Last year, she worked on the West Coast, completing an internship with “Conan” in the talent department.
New York City offers a different-but-similar opportunity with two big benefits. First, she lives in Manhattan with her older sister, saving on rent and enjoying a 10-minute walk to the office. And, best of all for her, that office is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the legendary home of NBC and shows like “Saturday Night Live.”
“I’m constantly in awe of the fact I get to walk the same halls that Tina Fey, Steve Martin, Jimmy Fallon and the rest of the comedy greats once called home,” Dexter said. “When I first walked into 30 Rock for my interview in March I literally had chills. It was like a religious experience. That’s how I know I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.”