It’s by no simple coincidence that SCAD touts a 98% employment rate. An internship is something that will set any recent graduate aside, giving them a much better chance of employment upon graduation. It’s the difference between, “I’ve graduated and need to start looking for jobs,” and “I’m about to graduate and already have a job lined up for me.” It’s no wonder that a lot of SCAD alumni graduated with one, if not two or three internships behind their belts.

Paid or unpaid, in your hometown or hundreds of miles of way, when it comes to an internship it does matter how, when or where you’re doing it but what you get out of it, — the experiences — that is what will snag you a job post-grad, doing what you love at a company that speaks your language. This summer, SCAD District’s Intern Diaries will outline the various internships SCAD students are participating in across the U.S. and beyond. Stay tuned to find out the many benefits of gaining experience in your field before graduating.

SCAD’s Career Services assisted this second-year film and television graduate student find her internship with Blue Sky Studios in Greenwich, Conneticut.

Sommersill Tarabek, a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina native is now in Connecticut, helping make movie magic.

“Blue Sky Studios one of the best animated feature film studios in the country, and the only one on the east coast. As someone who is not interested in moving to California at this time in my life, I am exceedingly grateful for and happy about my internship at Blue Sky,” she said. 

And it’s not just the company that this grad student loves, the atmosphere and the “creatively driven” people are also a huge plus.

“I am living my dream for ten weeks; some days I wake up and cannot believe where I am working.”

With a paid internship and only 20 interns in the 500-person company, Tarabek is happy to be working as a Production Management at such a company.

For her the biggest struggle has been adjusting to using the software, one’s that she had not been exposed to at SCAD. But despite that hurdle she is happy to have learnt a lot of valuable skills that are assisting her during her time at Blue Sky.

“What I did receive was a lot of active practice in project planning, management, and problem-solving, which has helped me tremendously. Technical skills are much easier to learn than skills like sociability, negotiating, and remaining calm in a crisis – and these are the skills I was able to hone during my time at SCAD.”

Tarabek’s week consists of being in the office from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. moving from department to department throughout the course of her internships, overseeing every step of the company’s process and as she put it best, “understanding how each department fits into the puzzle of creating a film.”

From this she’s learnt the ins and outs of being a production assistant and how their tasks differ based on the needs of each department they work with.

“This has been incredibly beneficial to me, and I have even had the chance to perform some Production Assistant duties during crunch times in certain departments.”

Tarabek has been hard at work taking notes at meetings, scheduling the meetings, importing and organizing storyboards, logging recording takes during dialogue with the actors, operating the in-house projectors, importing various file types into Linux programs for presentations meetings and various other administrative tasks.

“As someone who came in with the assumption I would be making copies and grabbing coffee, I am overwhelmed with excitement. Blue Sky Studios is the internship jackpot.”

Thrifty and forward-thinking Tarabek believes she’ll be breaking even in terms of her pay and her expenses.

“Paying for living accommodations and everything that comes with that has been taxing, but the paycheck I receive from Blue Sky almost covers it as long as I do not spend lucratively.”

The hard work and expenses seems to all be worth it, especially when AHA! moments such as the one’s that Tarabek had this summer happen.

“My employer, and mentor, Lindsay Graham sat down with me for coffee one day and asked me about the things I loved; I told her I loved animation, and she asked me, “Well, then why aren’t you doing that?” It really opened my eyes. The only person stopping me from chasing my dreams was me. I had gotten comfortable in my role as a Live-Action Producer because there was a need for it, but it wasn’t something that made me excited,” said Tarabek.

“Working in Production Management for Animation is different for me. I love it, feel empowered by it, glean fulfillment from it, and am so happy I sat down and talked with Lindsay that day. It was my AHA moment, and it led to so many more,” she added.

Her advice to other students:

“Apply, apply, apply, even if you do not think you will get it. Ever since I was a little kid, I loved animated movies. I watched Disney’s 1961 101 Dalmatians so much the VHS tape broke. I truly thought I was not special enough to work in animation, and gave up on that dream until my twenties,”  said Tarabek.

“I applied for Blue Sky’s internship because I figured I had nothing to lose, and I got it. So I encourage other students to apply to the dream companies they think they might never have a chance at, because if you work hard and open yourself to the right opportunities, it just might happen,” she added. 

Most embarrassing moment: The studio is huge, and I am constantly lost. On one occasion I got locked out of the studio before I got my ID card and had to sneakily wait for an employee to exit so I could slip back in. On another occasion, I could not find the bathroom and my mentor had to walk me there. I am a 24-year-old woman. I felt like a kindergartner in that moment.

Written by Asli Shebe.