RealArts@Penn connects students with creative summer internships

WHAT: Founded in 2008, RealArts@Penn, a project at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (CPCW), helps Penn students interested in the creative arts build their network of connections through paid, off-campus summer internships during which they can receive real-world, applicable experience in the creative fields they are studying at Penn.

INSIDE ALUMNI: The summer internship program began with six students in 2008 and has expanded to 23 interns for this upcoming summer. R.J. Bernocco, associate director of administration at the CPCW and of RealArts@Penn, says the internships generally come about through alumni or connections that alumni have at the various companies.

23 THE HARD WAY: RealArts@Penn received around 500 applications for its 2015 summer internship program, up from approximately 300 last year. A Penn committee reviews the applications and identifies a short list of the top finalists for companies to interview. “It’s hard because there are a lot of really good ones, so narrowing the field can take a long time,” Bernocco says. The companies then make the final selection.

EAST, WEST, AND MONTANA: This year’s cohort will intern at companies large and small, on coasts East and West, and in Montana. West Coast locations include 20th Century Fox, Brooklyn Films, and Disney Television Animation in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. East Coast companies include Penguin Random House and Pitchfork Media in New York City, and The Philadelphia Inquirer and 1812 Productions in Philadelphia. Clare Menzel will intern at the Flathead Beacon in Montana, a newspaper owned by Penn alumnus Maury Povich.

WIDE NET: Mingo Reynolds, director of administration at the CPCW and of RealArts@Penn, says they get applicants from almost every school, including Engineering and Wharton. “I think these internships are really appealing to some of the Wharton kids that don’t want to become investment bankers,” she says.

WORK OF VALUE: Reynolds says RealArts@Penn interns are not just gophers who get coffee for the higher-ups; she says they are given meaningful work and are afforded a valuable learning experience. “We check in, both with our contacts at the companies and with the interns, several times during the summer,” she says. “We try to visit at least once just to make sure that everybody is getting what we advertised.”

AN INTERN’S LIFE: The responsibilities of the interns differ depending on the size of the company. Bernocco says that at a place like Downtown Bookworks, a young adult and children’s publishing house in New York City run by alumna Julie Merberg, the intern, Laura Petro, can expect to do “a little bit of everything” and experience all aspects of the publishing industry. At a conglomerate like 20th Century Fox, he says the intern, Jordon Rodnizki, will most likely work in one department, such as marketing or development.

DAYS OF SUMMER: On average, the internships last 10 weeks from late May to the beginning of August. Students are given a $4,000 stipend. Major funding is provided by Armyan and Christine Bernstein, Dirk Wittenborn, and the Cape Branch Foundation.