Film Studies International Interning in London: Jamie Bergey​

by Stasia Lopez / Dec 12, 2014 /
Stasia Lopez's picture

Jamie Bergey is a current student at the University of Pittsburgh and will graduate in April 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Film Studies and Economics. She completed an international internship in London, England with the MAMA Youth Project organization. Read up on her interview below to learn more about her incredible international work experiences and her continued work within the film industry!

#StudyAbroadBecause

 

Jamie in front of the Rocks! From Film Studies International Interning in London: Jamie Bergey​

Jamie in front of the Rocks!

 

How did you choose your major? How did you choose the college that you chose to attend?

I took a Video Production class in high school on a fluke. I had actually pointedly avoided it when picking classes because my brother had taken it when in school and I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps, but they placed me in it anyway. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed it very much. I went on to attend a filmmaking intensive summer camp, and had solidified my interest in film by the time I started looking at colleges.

I found Pitt almost by chance. I’m from Southern California, so I had never heard of it before. We got a lot of literature at our house from a lot of colleges, most of which we just threw away indiscriminately for want of time; Pitt was one of the few my Mom chanced to look at with more scrutiny. The more we looked, the more it seemed like a perfect fit: it had a film program that wasn’t just a job mill (I thought it was important to have a well-rounded liberal arts education), but still had good opportunities for hands-on experience; the city of Pittsburgh also fit what I wanted—urban, but not so big as to worry my mother sick or feel anonymous, and with a thriving arts scene; it also had “seasons” (something that kids from perennially sunny Southern California think they want until it’s January, all the twinkle lights have been taken down, and the snow goes from being a pristine white blanket to a hard brown crust at the edges of the sidewalks!). I also got a full tuition honors scholarship through Pitt’s Honors College, which made the school accessible to someone from out of state.

 

How did you find your internship(s)? What resources did you use? Were yours internship for credit/not for-credit/ paid or unpaid?

I found my internship through the organization through which I studied abroad. I spent the spring 2014 semester in London through the Pitt in London program, and part of that program was a for-credit internship. I applied to the program in the middle of the fall semester, and part of that process was submitting a resume and generic cover letter, which CAPA (the company behind the Pitt In… programs) would then send out to its various contacts throughout the city. Consequently, I didn’t actually know what internship site I’d been placed with until about two weeks before I left for London. The only input I had was selecting three fields I would most like to work in—Film/Television, Radio, and Theater—and what strengths and skills I showed on my resume. Though I went in a little blind, I ended up extremely satisfied with my placement.

 

Jamie Bergey castling out. From Film Studies International Interning in London: Jamie Bergey​

Jamie Bergey castling out

 

What inspired your career choice? How did you hear about it?

I’ve bounced between various different dream careers within film: originally I wanted to be a writer on network sitcoms (but that was mostly fueled by my desire to emulate Tina Fey); then I thought that editing would suit me best, because I enjoy it and most people don’t, but it can also be quite lonely, as well as a little dangerous for someone with perfectionist tendencies; most recently, I’ve begun to toy with the idea of producing, or being a self-shooting researcher (someone who works for a television show or station, but follows through the entire project from planning to production to editing). This last position was something that I didn’t really even realize was a position, let alone that I might have an aptitude for it, until my internship with MAMA Youth, when I was surrounded by researchers contacting contributors and planning segments, and had the opportunity to produce some of my own short video content.

 

Are you involved at Pitt? What do you recommend to incoming students to the university?

I am heavily involved with two organizations at Pitt. I’m a founding member of Ruckus, Pitt’s only improv comedy troupe, which puts on a minimum of two shows a weekend in our regular venues, as well as performing for various theaters and organizations throughout the city. I’m also Creative Manager for UPTV, Pitt’s student-run television station, which makes everything: just this semester we’re producing a parody reality TV series, a documentary series about small businesses around Pittsburgh, a dystopian short film adapted from a short story, a Club Show (which I personally produce) highlighting the diversity of Pitt’s student organizations, a weekly update from the Student Government Board, as well as countless one-off coverage of various events like Campus Women’s Organization’s annual Take Back the Night march or the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes charity event.

I would suggest that incoming students take it easy with extracurriculars. It’s very tempting (I know I did it) to take every single flyer at the Activities Fair, and sign up for every email list, and it’s great to explore what’s out there—but there must come a point where you admit surrender to the abiding laws of time and space, and accept that you cannot do everything. Get involved—it makes a huge difference in feeling like a part of the school community, and is a great way to meet people outside of your major and living situation—but don’t overextend yourself! You can be really involved in a few clubs, or more casually associated with several; the particular makeup isn’t important, as long as there’s balance. Along that same line, don’t feel the need to have your extracurriculars all be resume builders, or connected to your major/career in some way; use them to round out your education, and expose you to things you wouldn’t otherwise experience.

 

What were the tasks and projects that you had to complete in your internship (s) and what skills did you gain? Please discuss your employer’s expectations of you.

I was primarily tasked with maintaining the various social media and web platforms for the arts and culture magazine show What’s Up, which MAMA Youth Project produces as part of its charity job-training scheme. I worked two days a week, and would start the day with a sort of roundtable discussion of the latest news, which I would note down to tweet/Facebook about throughout the day. I also updated and restructured the website, adding pages and making the site’s navigation more intuitive. I also tagged along on a few shoots, so that I could take behind-the-scenes pictures. These were all things I was tasked with, with very clear instructions or expectations from my supervisors. The most exciting aspect of my internship, however, was something that came about by my own volition: the opportunity to produce my own short video content for the website—my fellow intern and I covered London Fashion Week, the Maslenitsa festival in Trafalgar Square, and the monthly Silent Disco at the National Science Museum (she acted as host, while I shot and edited). We expressed our interest in doing these videos, and after proving ourselves with the first (LFW), were given much more support and encouragement.

I gained a much greater understanding of the nuances of social media, particularly when viewed through the lens of brand and marketing, as well as some rudimentary web design skills—all of which will come in handy should I need to market my own work in the future. From observing the shoots on What’s Up, I learned many techniques concerning shooting host-centered magazine-style segments, which I’ve since implemented in subsequent internships as well as my own personal projects. Through producing my own short content, I learned how to cold call contributors, and present myself to people in various fields and circumstances with professionalism and competency.

 

Jamie Bergey at Stonehenge. From Film Studies International Interning in London: Jamie Bergey​

Jamie Bergey at Stonehenge

 

Do you feel that you grew your network while interning? If so, how? 

Absolutely! Through my work with MAMA Youth Project, I gained over two dozen contacts in my field: in my supervisors, I have Bob Clarke, a career editor; Anca Dimofte, a documentary filmmaker; and Cristina Ciobanu, a talented producer; and in the trainees who made What’s Up, I have a diverse group of young and up-and-coming researchers, camera operators, sound technicians, and editors.

 

Did anything surprise you about interning? Did interning inspire you academically, vocationally, or in any other way? Did it confirm that you chose the right major and the right field?  Can you discuss any challenges that you had from your internship?

I never really considered nonfiction content before working on What’s Up—I had always assumed that I would want to work in narrative formats, like comedy or drama; the closest I’d come to considering non-scripted work was thinking about how fun it would be to work on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. In working for What’s Up, though, I finally came to see the truth that my mother had always asserted: nothing’s more interesting than real life. Seeing all of the incredibly diverse content that the researchers dug up for segments, as well as doing my own searches, both for video ideas as well as information to share on the show’s Facebook and Twitter, I was exposed to the myriad fascinating people, places and events that many people never even realize they missed. I was also inspired by the documentary work of my supervisor Anca to reconsider the merits of documentary content. Now I am seriously considering moving into documentary work, particularly for television.

 

Can you share with us a memory from your internship experience as a take-away?

When I covered London Fashion Week, I showed up early to grab our press passes and scope out the space; I was incredibly nervous. When I got out of the Tube station, I followed a man in a neon orange fur coat, correctly assuming that we both must be headed to the same place. I was giddy with excitement, but also a bit of disbelief—I almost expected to be turned away at the door, told that there had been a mistake, that they never would have issued a pass to us had they realized we were representing a charity scheme and hadn’t even graduated from university. But I got our passes, and we were in! I was squeezed onto the same set of risers as the people from the BBC and the major newspapers. We interviewed bloggers and filmed three shows on the main runway. It was a huge boost in confidence, as well as an incredible lesson in the incredible opportunities that can arise if you don’t sell yourself short.

 

Any advice for students thinking about an interning?  Anything that you didn’t know about that you wish that you did?

I absolutely recommend it. There’s no better way to really find out what a certain job/field is like outside of actually having it; and even if all an internship teaches you is that said job/field isn’t for you, that’s still valuable information. Probably the only thing I wish I knew before interning (because there’s very little you can really know until you get there—that’s sort of the point) was to prepare for how sometimes supervisors will expect a lot from you, not realizing that their tasks, numbers-wise, account for only about a fifth of your overall workload. Since this is their job, the stakes are higher than in a classroom setting, and this can lead to slightly unrealistic expectations; the important thing when those situations arise is communication—they won’t know that you’re overwhelmed until a) you tell them, or b) you burn out, and drop assignments or make yourself sick. It’s much better to tell someone upfront that you don’t have time than to take on excess responsibility and fail to deliver.

 

What is up next for you? Anything you’d like to add/share?

This spring I will be interning with Pittsburgh Community Television (PCTV), Pittsburgh’s public access television station, where I will help out on a series showcasing women filmmakers, and with community outreach and marketing.

 

Jamie Bergey at the Meridian. From Film Studies International Interning in London: Jamie Bergey​

Jamie Bergey at the Meridian

 

 

See more interviews in our College, Internships, and Career Series

 

 

 

This is part of a series on international education, as part of our commitment to #GenerationStudyAbroad and our commitment to the White House Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. You'll find many more inspiring stories here on Wandering Educators!

 

 

Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is also a Career Consultant at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel,  and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando.

All photos courtesy and copyright Jamie Bergey