An engineering major/media minor whose skills and determination—paired with his passion for comedy and late-night talk shows—landed him a dreamy internship. Learn how.
Description of the video:
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In this video, I'm going to tell a story about how an engineering student from Indiana University with a love of comedy found himself interning in New York City at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
[Video: Man speaks to camera]
What's up, storytellers? My name is Sohile Ali. Welcome back to another story on my YouTube channel. As always, before we get started, if you're not already, please hit that Subscribe button down below. Hit the bell icon to stay updated with all in my latest videos.
And if you're watching this, I would imagine that you yourself are looking for internships in either television or film. I definitely know the place that you're in right now. Hopefully this video gives you at the very least an insight into my process of becoming an intern. Hopefully you can take away some of these tips and tricks that I use. So without further ado, let's get started.
So just a little bit of background about me. As I mentioned, I was an engineering major in my undergrad. I had decided to minor in media my sophomore year. I also had a media internship on campus, which I think really helped me when applying. This media internship allowed me to build my skills in editing, filming, and post-production while making documentary student films for our campus. But I definitely knew I loved one thing, and that's late night comedy.
I have great memories of watching The Late Show with David Letterman and of course The Daily Show with Jon Stewart when he was hosting. Throughout my entire undergraduate career, I applied to every single late night show you might think. Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan. I applied to them all, and I learned a lot through all these processes.
So the first thing I want to talk about is networking. Now, don't click away. I know you hear the same thing from every video, which is make sure you network. Make sure you are reaching out and building your LinkedIn. But I'm going to tell you some deep cuts that you don't hear in other internship videos. I'm going to tell you a couple of specific things that you can do right now to increase your chances at an internship.
Reach out to your school's alumni group. You would be surprised how many people that went to your college and studied in your program are out in the industry right now. For example, I didn't know that there was a writer at Stephen Colbert's show that actually went to IU. Shout-out to Brian Stack.
Contact your university's career services department. Oftentimes workers there might remember or know of a student that's working in or related to a field that you might be interested in. I would even ask some of your professors as well. Don't forget, they taught students for many, many years in your program. Students just like you that want to get jobs in TV and film.
All right, so now let's talk about LinkedIn. If you're willing and able to put down the money for a LinkedIn premium membership, I would highly recommend it. It will give you access to those alumni from your schools that might be working at these top companies that you want to work at. But it doesn't just have to be on LinkedIn. Personally, I follow different hashtags that I knew were related to different late night shows behind the scenes on Instagram.
Instagram actually helped me get my internship. I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk's advice on just DMing as many individuals as possible in industries and companies that I wanted to learn about. Probably sent over 50 DMs and received a couple back. But of those that I did hear back from ended up being really worthwhile connections to have, one of which turned out to be a former Indiana resident that is now a producer at The Daily Show. So I reached out to him. He got back to me. But that's just my experience.
But I would say one of the most valuable things you can get out of networking and reaching out to people is a quick informational call. An informational call is basically a short conversation with a person in an industry, in a field that you want to work in or a company. A short conversation where you can ask them questions, pick their brain. It's hardly an interview, but this is your opportunity to get insight into their world and show interest into what they're doing.
Through my journey of looking for summer internships, I had informational calls with workers from the Walt Disney Company, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, each of which I learned so much from. Be sure to take notes during these calls. I would be frantically typing on my laptop, listening to their stories, just getting down every single detail I could. Because oftentimes the stories that they tell you about their own journeys will help you along the way.
So I was applying to every late night show, like I mentioned. And actually, before I got offered The Daily Show internship, I had heard from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that I got offered a video interview. And this story about my Late Show interview will actually teach you a lesson.
So I had been emailing with one of the production coordinators for the longest time, setting up a time to do the Skype interview. So the whole time, it was understood that I would be interviewing with this individual. Turns out, the day of the interview, that individual was busy with another project and I had an interview with someone else, someone that I had barely had any correspondence with over email.
Now, mind you, I had been researching the other individual this whole time, getting ready to ask them questions about their job at The Late Show and the different things that they were doing. Where the day of, the ultimate swap happened, and I had the other guy. So what's the lesson there? Always expect the unexpected, and just be ready and prepared for anything, really, in this whole process.
So I eventually heard that I did not get The Late Show internship, which I was pretty bummed about. So here I am in March, April's right around the corner, still no summer internship. Around mid-March I finally got the email from The Daily Show to schedule a phone interview. I did some research on the production coordinators that I was going to be interviewing with, just to have some questions about the show that I think would show them my interest and how genuinely badly I wanted this internship.
But I was true to myself. In the interview, I mentioned that watching David Letterman and Jon Stewart growing up played a big impact on my life as a child. How we still watch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah each day. And I also mentioned how Trevor came to IU to do comedy, and I was able to be at the show backstage.
Be genuine. Show them why you want to work there. Was there a story you have growing up? Was there an impactful episode that really made you want to work there? Just bring in something personal to your interview.
First questions to me was, what does an engineer have anything to do with late night TV? I already knew they were going to ask me that question, so I was prepared. Told them that engineering, at least the way that we were learning it, was all about problem-solving. And that all they needed in their interns over that summer was quick problem-solvers to help them along the way as they made the show. And that's how I could help them. That's how I could serve them and solve their problems this summer.
So using my personal experience, the work that I had done, and my interests-- all that combined into how I can help the show and help serve the production team. Because that's all it really is as a summer intern on these shows.
So interview was done, and I was now just hoping for the best. March ended. April rolled around. I was dying to hear back. Finally I get an email on, I believe it was, April 4, 2019. And I have the Apple watch, so I saw the email on my phone. All I saw was "congratulations" from their email address, and I knew what they meant.
I was able to just take in all the experience, all the hard work I've put in applying and reaching out to all the people that I had done over the years. It had finally paid off in this moment where I had been offered the production intern position for The Daily Show for the summer of 2019. A life-changing experience that I hope each and every one of you can have sometime during your college or professional career. Shout-out to the fellow 2019 summer interns, most of which I'm still in touch with today.
So again, if you're watching this and you want to end up at a late night show internship spot, hopefully the tips and advice shared in this video can help you get one step closer to your goals. Best of luck to everyone applying. Keep it up, stay persistent, and when you least expect it, something amazing will happen.
And with that, I'm going to end this video right here. Thank you so much for watching this video. I really appreciate it. Become a storyteller and subscribe. My name is Sohile Ali. Thank you for listening to my story.
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