An internship can be a wonderful opportunity for students to boost their employment potential in a variety of ways. The most obvious, of course, is the opportunity to improve technical skills and get a behind-the-scenes look at the nuts and bolts of the industry.
Beyond this obvious perk is the potential to acquire soft skills, such as improving communication, learning how to be a team player, and working in a professional environment. In addition, internships are often the first meaningful job experience that a graduate will list on his or her resume.
To learn more about how internships help young artists, Cartoon Brew asked some of the talented students from the MFA Computer Arts, BFA Animation, and BFA Computer Art departments at the School of Visual Arts to share their experiences this summer at Disney, Nickelodeon, MPC, and other companies. Here are some of the valuable lessons they learned:
After interning at Cartoon Network last summer, Maya Mendonca, BFA Computer Art class of 2020, picked up her first freelance animation gig at Nickelodeon this summer. “Working on multiple projects for this company, receiving critique, and learning from my co-workers enhanced my animation workflow and skills,” says Mendonca. “The work environment was super fun and efficient, which encouraged a good balance between working and taking a break to play checkers, Uno, or Nintendo Switch with my coworkers. My never-ending passion for animation continued to grow through working at Nickelodeon and I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”
Esther Song, BFA Computer Art class of 2019, is interning at the Motion Picture Company after graduation.
Song speaks of her experience: “This summer I had the amazing opportunity to work at MPC as a Nuke compositing intern under the direction of David Piombino. The initial insecurities I had about my skillset were quickly washed away by the welcoming and supportive community. Not only were they willing to help me improve my work, but they were also very patient and taught me new ways to composite and approach breaking down shots. It was wonderful to get first hand experience being part of a professional pipeline, and having my work seen by an international audience was an added bonus!”
Wenjie Wu (MFA Computer Arts 2020) had his dream internship at the one-and-only Walt Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles, California this summer. Over the past few months, he learned about how a Disney short film was made, while working with other talented artists and learning from the best people in this industry!
“I appreciate this wonderful and challenging experience at Disney, it’s an important event of my life and career,” Wu says of the experience. “I feel very proud to be a part of this big family where people combine art, technology, and culture together to produce amazing shows.”
Patrick Yu Wang (MFA Computer Arts 2020) was a CG Artist Intern at Walt Disney Animation Studios this summer as well. As an intern at Disney, Patrick learned a lot about modeling, look development, lighting, and compositing from his mentors and coworkers in Walt Disney Animation Studios. He became familiar with the best animated feature pipeline in this world, and worked with other interns on a short film project — all chasing the same goal and dream together.
Yu Wang speaks of his experience: “I am so happy that I got closer to my dream this summer after one year studying in the MFA Computer Arts Program at SVA.”
Hayley Garden (MFA Computer Arts 2020) worked as the motion graphics student associate at the Madison Square Garden Company this summer, facilitated by an initial meeting at the School of Visual Arts career fair. This internship gave her the opportunity to work on awesome projects in conjunction with the most iconic entertainment acts NYC has to offer, like the New York Knicks, the Rockettes, and the famous musicians who play at the company’s multiple concert venues.
Garden says of her experience: “Learning how to bring my creative voice to the table while working with established brands has been a challenging and rewarding experience. It has helped me redefine what it means to be an artist and has taught me the importance of collaboration.”
This summer, Ziyi Wang (class of 2021) interned at 100 Chickens Productions, a tv animation studio based in Brooklyn, where she worked as a design intern. She helped to create designs for their current tv animation project and worked closely with their technical director and design director. The experience helped her learn about the animation pipeline and helped her to become more familiar with different software. “I got to know more professional artists. This experience is very valuable to me.”
Zoe Panageas (class of 2021) interned at Dola Media this past summer. “Being an intern has not only allowed me to work in the unique environment of the entertainment industry, but gave me an opportunity to see its collaborative ingenuity firsthand,” says Panageas. “For example, as necessary as individual voices are in creating a final project, I’ve now seen that their synthesis is where true art is formed. This was also evident to me in the amazing people I worked with on projects that required a lot of problem solving, something that was critical to understand in almost all situations at work. From being given complete creative freedom on an animation, to consultation on the best way to get across an idea in a storyboard, I’ve been challenged and trusted in my work in ways that will be forever invaluable to my future as a visual artist and storyteller.
Ezequiel Cincunegui (Class of 2020) spent the better half of his summer interning at Augenblick Studios in Brooklyn. After being recommended by a member of the department’s staff, he was hired to work with them in one of the busiest independent animation studios in New York City. “Interning at Augenblick Studios was much more than what I expected,” he says.” I got to work on a bunch of different projects, which meant that work never became monotonous since it was always very different.”
Ezequiel also recounts that being able to take breaks right at the waterfront looking towards Manhattan as one of the biggest highlights of the summer. “I think this internship sealed the deal towards my interest in commercial animation.”
Learn more about the various animation programs available at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) at each of the department websites: MFA Computer Arts, BFA Animation, and BFA Computer Art.