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Lyndra Vassar '09 Spends Summer as Intern with MTV

By Lisbeth Redfield
Posted August 27, 2007
A native of Hollywood, Calif., Lyndra Vassar '09 is, like many others in that area, interested in being a part of the entertainment industry. The rising junior is considering a career in entertainment law and decided to get a head start on work experience this summer. After some research, Vassar applied for and received a position as an intern with MTV Network's Press Department.

Vassar was one of more than 20 Hamiltonians who received college funding to participate in a summer internship. Work experience is becoming more and more necessary for college students but many opportunities are unpaid and require students to fund their own housing and living expenses as well as working for free.

Thanks to alumni and parent donations, Hamilton students can apply for funding to support them while they work in a field of interest with an organization that cannot pay them. Though Vassar worked in an unpaid internship, she received a stipend from the George & Martha Darcy Internship Support Fund, a competitive grant which is awarded every year to support internships in the fields of communications, writing, advertising/ public relations, publishing, print journalism or telecommunications. The fund provides cost-of-living assistance to students who have insufficient resources to fully support undertaking a full-time summer internship.

Vassar's responsibilities were varied. Her daily duties included contacting media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, U.S. Weekly and People magazine to pitch stories, and assembling press kits for writers. She also worked on larger projects; for example, she served as a backstage escort and assistant at the Black Entertainment Television Awards, where she worked in the green room and the media center, acting as liaison between celebrities or their publicists and news reporters. "For example, I ask Justin Timberlake if he wants to do an interview with CNN," she explained.

Vassar had a similar role at the Visible Vote Presidential Forum '08, where she worked with the candidates and their families. "The best part was actually getting to watch the forum," Vassar said. The forum, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, invited presidential candidates to share their stance on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

Like most of her peers, Vassar was excited to have a job that didn't involve making coffee runs for her boss. "I was actually pitching shows," she explained. More than that, Vassar was excited to have a position where she learned about the industry and improved her own skills. She spoke frequently of the situations which had allowed her to view the interplay of entertainment, media, and communications. It was communications skills that Vassar stressed the most. "I've enjoyed learning how you can utilize communication in the entertainment industry," she explained.

Overall, Vassar enjoyed her first summer internship. "It really introduced me to some career options." Effective communication was the key lesson: network, network, network. "Take advantage of network opportunities," she insisted when asked for a few words of advice for future interns. "The entertainment business is all about people you know."

Although the rising junior will spend the coming year in Madrid, she will begin networking for next summer before she goes overseas. When she is on campus, Vassar is involved in the Black Student Union and a member of Alpha Chi Lambda sorority. She hopes to go to graduate or law school after college to work in entertainment law or business administration.

-- by Lisbeth Redfield


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