Arts and Entertainment

New Penn State Hollywood Program will put students in Tinseltown internships

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Students in the College of Communications at Penn State will get valuable, hands-on work experience in the entertainment capital of the world with the launch of the Penn State Hollywood Program next spring. 

Beginning in January 2016, the internship program will coincide with the spring semester at Penn State, allowing students to live and work in the Los Angeles area during a typically busy time for the entertainment industry, and in a city that serves as the creative hub for movie and television production as well as news, public relations and related fields.

“We’re excited to provide this opportunity for our students, “ said Dean Marie Hardin. “Thanks to the support of numerous alumni, internship host sites in Los Angeles and our dedicated faculty and staff who’ve worked tirelessly to make this happen, we’re able to provide an amazing opportunity for students. At the same time, they’ll benefit from intensive personal support.”

See the Penn State Hollywood Program trailer. 

Professor Robert Richards, who created and guides the successful Penn State Washington Program that has been facilitating internships for students living on site in the nation’s capital for 20 years, will be on site with students in Los Angeles.

With the creation of the program, Penn State is one of just a handful of U.S. universities that facilitates intensive, on-site internship opportunities in both Hollywood and Washington, D.C.

The College of Communications has a proven record for providing student internships in fields that thrive on hands-on experience. More than 600 communications students complete for-credit internships each year.

“Opportunities abound in Hollywood, and the Penn State Hollywood Program exists to help students get the kind of experience that makes a difference,” said Richards, the John and Ann Curley Professor of First Amendment Studies. “The greatest advantage of a program like this is that it provides students with a chance to see what the business is really like -- from the trenches -- and not as glamorized in fiction. It is a difficult business, but it also is one that opens up tremendous opportunities for people who are willing to work hard at it.”

Thanks to an enthusiastic network of alumni and internship partners in the Los Angeles area who appreciate the reputation of Penn State and the College of Communications, the program has abundant interest from potential internship sites.

As a result, the Penn State Hollywood Program guarantees selected students an internship related to their professional field of interest. The scope of a student’s targeted professional field is determined during the application and interview processes. The Penn State Hollywood Program does not guarantee students internship roles at specific organizations because hiring decisions are made internally within each organization.

“We anticipate a variety of opportunities for students,” Richards said. “Everyone is excited about having Penn State students complete internships for them. The entertainment industry provides a vast array of opportunities that would meet the interests of students in any College of Communications major. From film and TV to entertainment law, the music industry, television news, video games and so much more, the possibilities are limitless.”

With the internship program scheduled to coincide with the spring academic semester at Penn State, students accepted to participate can benefit from important timing that will complement their experience. For example, television production is in full swing during the spring with dramas, game shows, late-night talk shows and sitcoms in production. When the shows are in production, the allied fields (entertainment news, programming, publicity) are in full operation as well.

Additionally, the spring is “pilot season” in Hollywood, when networks order initial episodes of shows that may go on the fall schedule. While some cable networks launch shows at various times, there remains an abundance of new production in the first four months of the year.

Of course, the spring semester begins with “awards season” in Hollywood. The Golden Globes, the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, the Directors’ Guild Awards and the Oscars all take place during this time.

Penn State courses on entertainment industry topics will be offered on site. Additionally, students may enroll in Penn State online courses, allowing them to maintain a full course load and stay on track for graduation while completing their internship.

Students accepted for the program will pay their regular Penn State tuition (in-state or out-of-state). A rate for housing will be announced once enrollment figures have been finalized. Penn State does not add any additional program fees.

Housing for the Penn State Hollywood Program will be at Oakwood Toluca Hills. However, students with close friends or relatives near Los Angeles can opt to live with them as a cost-saving measure.  

College of Communications students in any major may apply for the program. Information sessions will be conducted Feb. 16, Feb. 18 and Feb. 24 in 60 Willard Building. After that, a review of applications and the interview process will begin. 

Last Updated June 14, 2021