Placement Experience: Abbie, On-Air Creative Intern, NBCUniversal

Abbie Smith

Abbie Smith, a BA (Hons) Film & Television Studies student, spent a year working as an On-Air Creative Intern at NBCUniversal.

Abbie explains what her role involved, how it’s shaped her future career plans and why her placement has been “the best year of my life so far”.

Who do you work for and what do they do?

NBCUniversal is one of the worlds largest multimedia companies engaging in production, distribution and marketing of entertainment, news and information for a global audience.

Which department do you work in?

I work for the Universal Networks International division in the creative department, conceptualising, writing and editing promotional videos for UK and wider European channels. These include Universal Channel, Syfy, Movies 24, E!, 13th Street, Studio Universal and DIVA.

Abbie Smith - Heroes Reborn

Have you had the opportunity to work with different departments?

On a daily basis I was working with many different departments including marketing, production, post production, programming and compliance to make sure that the work I did was up to the best standard.

What is your role? What are your main duties, tasks and responsibilities?

Abbie Smith - Working on a promo at her desk
My desk with one of my promos on the screen!

My role was an On-Air Creative Intern which was a pivotal role in the creative team. I created promotional videos for on air and off air, social media assets and marketing reels for the UK and wider European channels. On a daily basis I would watch the different channel content, come up with an idea and edit it to market a new programme, series of films or marketing stunt. I also acted as head runner on many different production shoots for our channels, while also filming behind the scenes reels for the social platforms.

Are you treated like an employee?

Throughout the last year I wasn’t made to feel like an intern, I was just another valued member of the team. I was included in brainstorms and ideas for bigger promos and was given the same amount of workload, if not more, than a permanent mid-level creative.

How was your placement related to your university degree?

My degree, focusing on the film and television industry and its practises, is directly related to my internship for many reasons. Firstly, the company I worked for is owned by the world’s largest media conglomeration, Comcast. Secondly, I was editing videos daily and working in a marketing department, something that I have learned a lot about throughout the course of my degree.

Abbie Smith - charity work
Every year the entire NBCUniversal team takes part in volunteer work. I was making this small fenced garden for toddlers at a chuch in Essex with some of my team and others across the company.

What are the benefits of being on a placement?

Being in a working environment for a year is a great benefit, especially if it is a job you really enjoy. Doing this placement year has made me realise that after I graduate I would like to pursue this job as a career. I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t do a placement.

What have you got out of being on a placement?

After finishing my placement year I actually did some freelance work for the company. This meant that I could spend more time at the company and do what I really enjoyed. This has also enhanced my chance of working at other production and creative companies. I have not been guaranteed a job after I graduate, but if there is a job there or the opportunity to freelance I have been told they would want me back.

See examples of Abbie’s work on Vimeo.

What have you most enjoyed?

Abbie Smith - Shoot Day! Filming with this cadillac!
Shoot Day! Filming with this Cadillac!

I have loved every second of the placement. Particular high points are when I see my work on television. I really feel a sense of achievement when I can see what I’ve worked hard on aired on the UK channels for a wide audience to see. But a stand out high point would be all the times I have been able to go on production shoots, specifically one that was based in Southend when we were filming a promo in a classic cadillac car. I was able to shoot behind the scenes for this and I got to spend a few days by the beach, which was great.

What was your greatest success or achievement?

My greatest achievement was receiving high praise from the Managing Director of the Universal Networks division about one of my promos. It’s great to feel like I have made something that will help the company grow.

What have you least enjoyed?

There is nothing that i haven’t enjoyed about this year. The only thing would be the early morning starts!

What concerns did you have before going on placement?

As anyone would, I was very apprehensive about working for such a large company and working with people that were making award-winning content. I was also nervous about making promos that thousands of people would see on air and if they were good enough.

How did they work out?

However this then became the things I loved most about working there.

What advice would you give to someone concerned about doing a placement?

I was so apprehensive about applying for placements and taking a year out of my studies, but I’m so glad I did because it has been the best year of my life so far. I feel like I have really grown personally but also creatively. I have done things I never thought would be possible and that’s all because I decided to take a placement. Best decision ever!

Abbie Smith - London Pride
NBCUniversal was a proud sponsor of London Pride 2016. I helped out on the day by taking pictures and filming our team on our bus in the parade.

What new skills have you developed?

My editing and writing skills have improved a lot. I am now fluent using Avid Media Composer and all the editing styles there are. My copywriting skills have got a lot better as I was writing scripts for my promos daily, coming up with puns and clever wording to advertise the specific film or programme.

Everything I have learned about the television industry will help me in my final year and i can apply it all to the essays I will be writing.

What are your plans for your final year?

After this year in industry I find myself incredibly focused to achieve the best grade in my degree. I aim to work hard with writing essays but I also aim to keep editing videos in my spare time and keep in contact with everyone I have met at NBCUniversal.

What are your plans for after your degree?

My plans are to carry on in the television promo making industry, hopefully graduate and find a Junior Creative role somewhere. But I would really like to get into the film trailer industry.

Abbie Smith - Merry Sithmas

Has the placement helped you with your career decisions?

Yes, it has been the deciding factor in what I would like from my career.

What advice would you give to students who aren’t sure whether to do a placement or not?

I would say really look into an industry you’re interested in and a particular role you think you can enjoy. I only did a placement because I knew that I would gain so much from it and that there would be amazing opportunities for me. So research the companies and jobs and make sure you really want to do what you’re applying for. You may be apprehensive about taking a year out from your friends, I was too, but the experience I have gained has really made it all worthwhile, and you can still visit your friends in their 3rd year!

What advice would you give to your fellow students in year 1 and year 2 regarding their placement search?

Be bold and brave and you will have the best year!


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