Penn State Hollywood Program expands to serve more students

June 13, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After a successful inaugural semester, the Penn State Hollywood Program will expand by more than 40 percent during the 2016-17 academic year, allowing 17 College of Communications students to complete internships and course work while living in Los Angeles from January to May.

Professor Robert Richards, who created the Hollywood Program and stayed on site with students during the inaugural semester this past spring, said interest in the program by alumni and internship partners in Los Angeles helped make the increased class size possible. During its inaugural semester, the program accepted a dozen students.

PHOTO GALLERY: Looking back at inaugural semester

“Interest from students has always been high. From the day we announced the Hollywood Program our undergraduates wanted to be a part of it,” Richards said. In fact, 116 students applied for the initial semester. “Support from alumni and partners was strong as well. As people became more familiar with the quality of our students and understood our commitment to the program, requests for interns increased. Many companies and organizations are interested in having a Penn Stater working for them.”

VIDEO: Hollywood Program 2016 Recap

Richards also created the Penn State Washington Program, which has been facilitating internships for students living on site in the nation’s capital for more than two decades. Penn State is one of just a handful of U.S. universities that facilitates intensive, on-site internship opportunities in both Hollywood and Washington, D.C.

Students selected for the 2017 Penn State Hollywood Program are:

  • Nicole Barros, a senior journalism major from Bronxville, New York;
  • Alexander Bobbyn, a junior journalism major from New Tripoli, Pennsylvania;
  • Jacinta Bowen, a junior film major from Dover, Pennsylvania;
  • Olivia Cohen, a senior film major from North Salem, New York;
  • Matthew DePanifilis, a senior film major from Litiz, Pennsylvania;
  • Blaise Deveney, a senior film major from Barto, Pennsylvania;
  • Allen Guerrero, a senior film major from Summit, New Jersey;
  • Kristopher Hart, a sophomore journalism major from Philadelphia;
  • Olivia Hogan, a sophomore journalism major from Barnegat, New Jersey;
  • Candace McPhillips, a senior journalism major Collegeville, Pennsylvania;
  • Alexander Melso, a junior film major from Springfield, Pennsylvania;
  • Jennifer Meyers, a senior advertising/public relations major from Harrington Park, New Jersey;
  • Adam Murray, a senior film major from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania;
  • Hai Nguyen, a senior film major from Enola, Pennsylvania;
  • Bre’jon Patrick, a junior journalism major from Williamstown, Pennsylvania;
  • Corey Ross-Robertson, a junior film major from Brackney, Pennsylvania; and
  • Ayra Siddiq, a junior film major from Mania, Philippines.

The Hollywood Program guarantees selected students an internship related to their professional field of interest. The scope of a student’s targeted professional field is determined during the application and interview processes.

Students in the inaugural class were pleased with the program because of the experience and opportunities in Los Angeles.

“It was a great learning experience. I came out here to get my feet wet in the industry and I learned a lot of things you can’t learn in the classroom,” said Allen Rounsley, who earned an internship at HBO during the program and remained with the company after he graduated in May. “The advice I would give people that are considering the Hollywood Program is to not take it lightly. There’s a personality that comes with this type of experience. I think you have to be outgoing. I think you have to be willing to meet other people. If you have a shy personality, L.A.’s not for you.”

Because the internship program coincides with the spring academic semester, students benefit from some valuable timing. For example, television production is in full swing during the spring with dramas, game shows, late-night talk shows and sitcoms in production. When the shows are in production, the allied fields (entertainment news, programming, publicity) are in full operation as well. Additionally, the spring is “pilot season” in Hollywood, when networks order initial episodes of shows that may go on the fall schedule. While some cable networks launch shows at various times, there remains an abundance of new production in the first four months of the year.

Of course, the spring semester begins with “awards season” in Hollywood. The Golden Globes, the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, the Directors’ Guild Awards and the Oscars all take place during this time. 

Penn State courses on entertainment industry topics are offered on site and students may enroll in Penn State online courses, allowing them to maintain a full course load and stay on track for graduation while completing their internship.

Last Updated June 13, 2016