Kurt Ryan, BA (Hons) Film Studies, Universal Studios internship
Kurt is studying BA (Hons) Film Studies at London South Bank University and is currently part-way through a 12 month internship at Universal Studios
The Universal Studios International Research team contacted LSBU when the internship position became available – they are constantly on the hunt for bright and motivated students to intern in their various departments. Kurt, on the BA (Hons) Film Studies course, responded to the request and attended a Universal open day to find out more about the internship at their offices in Central Saint Giles, central London. He liked what he saw and decided to put everything into applying.
After having his online application accepted Kurt moved forward on to the interview stage which was a three-round process, where he found the new knowledge from his course really benefitted him: “In my second year I took a module that was all about the cinema industry. I think that helped as I gained some knowledge that I didn't have before and that I was able to take with me to my interviews and really try and wow them with my knowledge and understanding,” he says. “The American Cinema module - lead by Caitriona Beaumont who is a fantastic lecturer - helped me gain a clear understanding of the structure of the cinema industry and helped me consolidate my own ideas on what I think about it and where I think the industry is heading in the future.”
Working on wowing Universal with industry insight was clearly a smart tactic because after two interviews (the second with the Senior Vice President of Distribution at Universal) and a very nervous wait, Kurt was thrilled to hear he had been successful in securing the position.
“I was massively hopeful but never expectant, so when I got a phone call from HR telling me I had the place I couldn't believe it! I went to see Ricardo (Ricardo Domizio, Film Studies Course Director) and tell him the good news, because if it wasn't for his help I wouldn't have made it to the open day.”
Member of the team
Kurt has now been at Universal three months and it’s fair to say he is loving every minute. On their website, Universal ‘warn’ potential interns they won’t be making coffee and doing the photocopying. Interns are expected to perform at the same level as entry-level staff, and Kurt has felt valued as a team member. “My roles mainly include box office maintenance, projected gross for future releases and week-by-week estimates for what revenue is going to be made over every international territory, but more importantly I'm trusted with ad-hoc tasks which offer a lot of diversity to the role as you could be asked and trusted to work on something independently,” he explains.
I think the internship is like no other, you have roles and duties that are absolutely essential to the day-to-day running of the company and are placed in a position of real trust by the team - that's great as you find yourself feeling like you really matter.
“Being part of the Film Studies course has helped me hugely - the lecturers and staff have been firstly supportive but also pushed us and stressed to us on numerous occasions that we are in charge of getting the most out of our university experience. They have urged us to be active in shaping of our futures; pushing us to get higher grades, helping us see where we are going wrong and suggesting to us how we can improve and most importantly they have pushed us to talk openly in class and give our opinions.”
Kurt is hopeful this internship will open doors for him, particularly as the entertainment and media sector is highly competitive. "I've gained an understanding on how to use certain software, I've met some incredibly talented people, I've attended exclusive screenings, and I've been to industry talks held by people at the very top of the company including CEO Jeff Shell, Chairman Donna Langley and Vice chairman Ron Meyer, all of whom have incredibly inspirational stories to tell.”
In terms of opportunity this internship is incredible. It has thrown me into a huge industry at the very highest level and at such a young age. Practically I have already learnt so much and I've only been there three months!
Universal internships are not just available to Film Studies students; they’ll accept students from a range of disciplines as long as candidates demonstrate understanding, a complementary skill-set and potential.
Kurt would advise any students on the Film Studies course to look out for invites from Ricardo to the open day, because it’s an invaluable experience for anybody looking to get a foot through the door in the film and media industry.
Read more about studying BA (Hons) Film Studies at LSBU.