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When Is an Intern Not an Intern?

When she’s an unpaid PA, of course!

B.W. writes in:

Most of my experience comes from working for producers in the advertising world as an intern. I’ve been able to work on a lot of really great commercials with a lot of notable clients, but my positions were always “production intern,” “intern,” etc. However, in these positions a good portion of my duties were similar to what a producer’s assistant or office PA might do in the film world.

Is it acceptable to list these positions as an office PA for the commercials I worked on? I’m thinking that may go over better with shows than the title “production intern.”

Interning is fraught with perils, both for you and the PAs who aren’t working because you decided to work for free.

But that’s in the past. If you’ve interned, you need to use this experience to your advantage. You should be using the connections you made as an intern to find paid work.

Not every job comes from recommendations, of course, and you’re probably sending out your resume blindly. These people don’t know who you are, or any of the other people whose resumes they’re looking at. All they have is the list of credits.

So, if you want to compete, by all means, change the your title from intern to PA. You have to be careful, though. If they catch you in a lie on IMDb, you might have some explaining to do. Or none at all, if they just decide to not interview a liar.1

IMDb is notoriously inaccurate, so if your resume says “production assistant” and IMDb says “intern,” hopefully they’ll just assume you were promoted.

All that being said, don’t fudge your resume if all your job duties consisted entirely of “preparing coffee for the production office, ensuring that the coffee pot was full.” I mean, seriously, what kind of asshole describes “making coffee” in 13 words, as if it was two different tasks? Goddamn, I still can’t believe the Black Swan interns won.

* * *

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this article from the LA Times: “Climbing the Hollywood ladder, one coffee or script delivery at a time.” It was written by one of my readers, Saba Hamedy; she offers some great advice for people who are new in town, just starting out in the business.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. This is, of course, not likely an issue when it comes to commercials.
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