I want to share a memory of my first internship, because I recently saw the place again after many years. I had an opportunity to work on a mock-umentary of a famous TV show. I’ll reserve the name for now. I made my way through Orange County in a beige Toyota pick up truck, with a beige camper shell, and beige seats to match the beige dashboard. The way this truck survived the warm hours of summer was unique. I had the heater on full blast and the windows down to keep the engine cooler. To keep myself from overheating, I had a spray-bottle that I’d spray into the vent and it’d shoot back room temperature water at my face. It was the pits but it was a part of the process.
Anyways, the meeting with the producer was at a local furniture shop. I did not question it, but I made way through the mattresses and couches until I met the producer/furniture sales associate. I looked at him, extended my hand and said, “hi, I’m Walid”. He went to shake my hand but did not introduce himself. He did not say “nice to meet you” or anything compassionate. He said, “go to subway and get a sandwich for us”. That was it. No name. No introduction. No compassion.
I walked down the street, already defeated before I started. I wondered if that was all of Hollywood, if it was worth the drive from Orange County, or I wanted to come back with their sandwich or just go home (with their sandwiches). I stuck it out. The internship had minimal value to my resume. All I did was think that one day I would surpass them (little did I know then, how easy it would be). Their movie did make it on DVD, and I IMDB’d them. One is doing well as a producer, the other one (Mr. Sandwich lover)…nothing much. It’s not that I am happy about their lack of success. It is that what goes around … well, you know the rest.
Just be nice to people. Help people, they will help back. There will be days you order the sandwich, days you pick up the sandwich, and days you build the sandwich. What ever stage of your career, keep asking yourself “What am I supposed to learn from this”. Ask for what you want, do not wait for them to hand you a title. I asked the producer to make me assistant to executive producer because I came in 2 days more than everyone else to help out. He went for it and I am not certain what the title meant afterwards, but I asked for what I wanted and how I thought it could help me. Not sure if it helped, but I learned to speak up and ask for what I wanted. I didn’t care. I was not going to be one of many, many PA’s.