KU senior talks Hollywood internship experience

By Haley Bianco

Senior electronic media major Haley Bianco gives a first-person account of her experiences at KU and as a production news intern for E! News.

KU student Haley Bianco posing as celebrities at an E! News Grammy rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Haley Bianco, E! News
KU student Haley Bianco posing as celebrities at an E! News Grammy rehearsal.
Photo courtesy of Haley Bianco, E! News

   The KU electronic media program offers a unique internship experience for seniors during their last semester. Before their final semester, students complete all required course credits, leaving them with only a 12-credit internship. As an electronic media senior currently on my internship, I feel that the KU community should know how excellent this program is for aspiring broadcast, production, TV and film professionals.

   In Dec. 2014, I found out that I had been selected as one of two interns in the country to work as a production intern at NBC Universal’s E! News located in Los Angeles. Since the onset of my college career in 2011, this has been my goal and I was able to accomplish it by taking advantage of what KU had to offer.

   One thing that made me stand out as an applicant was that I was available to work 32 hours a week or more.  This is possible because the electronic media program offers a 12-credit internship, essentially equaling a full-time position. KU’s approach differs from other schools because the majority of their students can only intern two or three days a week between their class schedules.

   The NBC Universal application process involved completing a lengthy video interview online in October and then waiting until mid-December for a reply.  I got a call on Thursday during finals week and had an on-the-spot interview over the phone. The next day I found out I had been accepted and needed to start Jan. 5, 2015.  This gave me about three weeks to move across the country and get settled for my dream job.

   I realized I had a chance to actually get this internship in March 2014 when I attended the National Broadcasting Society convention in Los Angeles with my NBS chapter from KU.  At this event I networked with a producer from E! News. We kept in touch throughout the year over email, and I felt comfortable asking for help. He barely knew me, but he was someone on the inside to tell the hiring manager that I was eager and passionate about the position. For this reason, I feel that networking is very practical and extremely important.

   As a current student, I encourage you to get involved and attend conferences that your clubs arrange.  Even though KU is a small state school, it doesn’t mean we are limited.

   Being an intern at a Los Angeles TV network has allowed me to experience many events that are not available in the local Pennsylvania area.  Some of my experiences so far at E! include helping out with various segment shoots, such as “Who Wore It Better” and a health/beauty segment with celebrity chef Candice Kumai.

My responsibilities include setting up celebrity guests’ dressing rooms as well as helping hosts.  I have been working with well-known people such as Giuliana Rancic, Catt Sadler, Jason Kennedy, Ali Fedotowksy, Terrence Jenkins, Harry Connick Jr., The Bachelor’s Chris Soules, Keith Urban, Gabrielle Union, Victoria Justice, Snooki and JWoww, and Ryan Seacrest.

   My internship happens to be during the height of the Hollywood awards season; I attended Iggy Azalea and Jennifer Hudson’s pre-Grammy rehearsal at The Beverly Hilton where I helped out with the shoot and the interview following their performance.

   I also attended the Grammy red carpet rehearsal.  This has been my favorite experience so far.  My role was to be a stand-in celebrity and walk the red carpet in order to rehearse interviews to be done with Seacrest and Rancic.  I posed as Meghan Trainor, Paul McCartney, Hunter Hayes, Aloe Blacc, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert and a few others. This was important so that E! News could accurately record the timing of the show, “Live from the Red Carpet.”

   Overall, I am learning a lot about the entertainment industry as well as the real world.  I believe this experience will open many doors for my future.

Other KU electronic media seniors are spending their semester at local Pennsylvania media outlets.  Chris Francia is a production intern at WLVT-PBS39 in Bethlehem, Pa., Steve Maugeri is a programming/production intern at WPVI-6ABC Action News in Philadelphia, and Mike Varlotta is a production intern at Center City Film and Video in Philadelphia.

   Four students are interning in New York City, including Zoey Grolman as a movie trailer and TV spot editor at Giaronomo Productions, Mike Gialloreto as a rental intern at Abelcine, Austin Mulhern as a rental technician at LVR Rental House, and Andrew Rothermel as a production intern at Greencard Pictures.  Josh Munson is close by as a technical intern at Arri Rental in Secaucus, New Jersey.  Another student, Ali Snider, is chasing her country music producing dreams in Nashville at Taillight TV.

   There are a total of 35 electronic media seniors currently working at their internship locations.  In the past, previous seniors like Megan West (ESPN), Megan Black (Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia), and Kourtney Massa (News 12 New Jersey) have found employment opportunities at their internship sites after graduation.

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