Film major challenges herself with three summer internships

Jeena Cadigan
July 08, 2020

(This is the fourth in a series of stories about students from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications completing summer internships.)

Summer is an ideal time for students to get real-world experience through internships without having to balance classes, and one Penn State Bellisario College of Communications student has made the most of her free time to take on three internships this summer.

Catherine Cao, a rising sophomore from South Setauket, New York, doesn’t spend her summer days on the beach. She spends them working at her desk.

“It was just me wanting to take advantage and find positive in all this craziness and just try to get as much experience as I could out of my summer,” Cao said.

The film major is working for two production companies, Red Fort Productions and Arachnid Films. Cao spends her work hours reviewing scripts, writing emails and learning about post-production work.

However, Cao also has other interests she wanted to explore this summer to complement her major. So, she’s exploring digital marketing as well. Three days a week for seven hours each day Cao works at internship for a non-profit organization, Community Development Corp. of Long Island (CDCLI).

The non-profit helps Long Island residents find affordable housing and maintain vibrant, equitable and sustainable communities. Cao is helping them this summer by spreading the word about what they do and recruiting more people to get involved with the organization. 

Cao said even though her working days are long — and sometimes spill into the night — it doesn’t bother her because she is doing something she loves.

"I know that the things I’m doing now — the internships that I have — are giving me so much experience for the future."

— Cat Cao, film major, Penn State

“In the grand scheme of things I know that the things I’m doing now — the internships that I have — are giving me so much experience for the future,” Cao said. “I try to free up my weekend as much as possible just to try to allocate as much time as I can for myself.”

During her minimal free time the fencing student-athlete works out on her own to train for the upcoming season. She has not been able to train at her home fencing club because it was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but she is hopeful the club will reopen soon.

Cao’s internships were also affected by the pandemic. All three are virtual, but she said the experience has been valuable. She has been learning tips about how to direct her own short film in the future, and how to find a balance between the hustle of the film industry and keeping her artistic integrity.

“Since I am relatively new to all this industry stuff I think just learning all the ins and outs of it and the truth behind it and what really is going on," Cao said. "How things work is something that's the most exciting to me."

In the beginning of her search for internships back in May, there was a lot of uncertainty about what, if any, opportunities would be available. Cao attributes her success for finding these internships to her networking.

“You don't always have to follow the same procedures as everyone else that's looking for internships,” Cao said. “Reach out to people you know and see what they can do for you and don’t be afraid to connect with others, and don’t be afraid that you're impeding on them or forcing them to do anything, because everyone wants to help everyone.”

Last Updated July 08, 2020