Leoni, 20, from Glasgow had the summer of a lifetime in L.A. on her internship!
For as long as I can remember, everything I heard and read about Los Angeles excited me. It’s made out to be a world of its own, and I can safely say that my time spent here has confirmed this. I decided to participate on BUNAC’s Internship USA programme because it was the perfect opportunity to explore the city, meet new people and gain work experience at the same time.
Months of planning and saving went into my trip, not to mention the hours and hours of research. Obtaining my internship was not an easy task, but it definitely paid off in the end. I sent resumes and cover letters to over 50 employers who were advertising on sites such as Intern Queen and Craigslist. Following a phone interview with a Hollywood news website, I was offered an internship and grabbed it with both hands. As time moved on, I became more excited and nervous about the journey ahead. I decided to go the trip alone as I feel this is the best way to get to the most out of going to a new place as well as allowing you to be you. I felt it was a fresh start and escape from normality.
After two flights, a conversation with Darius (who was sitting behind me on the plane), and a well planned navigation through LAX to the shuttle bus; I arrived at my hotel. I booked in for two nights as I had set up apartment viewings to go to the week before I left; something I would strongly suggest you do. I am lucky enough to have a friend living in LA, and she was extremely helpful taking me to the viewings. Needless to say I found a lovely place to stay, an apartment in a university complex. It’s very easy to meet people here. Every time I sit by the pool I am introduced to a new person, and I have made a lot of friends this way! There are four of us living in my apartment, with two to a room. It was a bit strange at first sharing a room as I have never had to do this at my university in Edinburgh, but after a few nights I settled in just fine. It’s a very relaxed surrounding, and Westwood is an area full of students as this is where UCLA is located.
The only downside to LA is the lack of public transport and the crazy traffic! Although my work is only 12 miles from the apartment, it takes me one and half hours to get there, and then even longer getting back. However the metro system is actually very good, cheap and usually reliable. I work three or four days a week at my internship, sometimes in the office and the rest of the time at events. Nothing could have prepared me for the job at hand though. It is the best work experience a fashion/celebrity/America-loving girl could ask for! Here is a typical work day for me:
7.30am - Get up and ready, stagger bleary eyed to the bus stop and go to work
10am - Arrive at the office and get briefed on the day ahead
10.15am - Start research for the blog and carry out tasks as needed
12.30pm - Grab some lunch and eat at my desk and continue with research
3pm - Research and write up questions for the event
4pm - Leave the office to come back to the apartment
7pm - Stuff down some dinner and go over questions for the event
10pm - Return to apartment and transcribe interviews to send over to my boss
The days are long but full of excitement and I get to meet the most amazing people! I have attended after-parties, benefits, charity dinners, film premieres and met celebrities such as Ryan Seacrest, Nicole Richie, Keri Hilson, Lauren Conrad and Christopher Lloyd.
Two events definitely stick out the most however. The first one was attending the launch of the new King Kong 3D 360 experience at Universal Studios. I interviewed some of the cast from shows such as Glee, Desperate Housewives and The Office. I was one of the first people to experience the ride which was a masterpiece! I felt like a real VIP and I got a taste of celebrity life. It was not a let down I can assure! The other event which is very memorable was the Hills finale party. To celebrate the last ever episode of the Hills, the cast were interviewed at the pool of the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. After interviewing the cast on the red carpet and backstage, I was allowed to sit poolside at the event, which did I mention was filmed live for MTV?!? It was one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life and the whole time I had to keep telling myself it was happening!
Another memorable moment was interviewing Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter of Twilight. I’m sorry to report to all you Twi-hard fans, but the fourth movie is going to be kept clean which sadly means no raunchy or explicit scenes!
I have also experienced some amazing days out with my friends. I went to the album launch of Miley Cyrus’ new album ‘Can’t be Tamed’ at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard; the same venue where a scene for Freaky Friday was filmed. This event was also streamed live on MTV, an unforgettable experience! I have eaten in some amazing restaurants and visited Hollywood where I saw Michael Jackson’s Star!
I travelled to the OC for a day to visit family and went to Laguna Beach. One of the nicest (and busiest!) beaches I have been to. Beverly Hills is only a five minute drive away and it’s beautiful area to explore. The shops are so luxurious and most of the people don’t look real!
I have four weeks left on this incredible adventure and I’m not going to waste a second of it. There is an endless list of places to go and things to see. Universal Studios, Disney, Malibu Beach , museums and shopping centres that you wouldn’t believe; it’s almost impossible to get bored. It’s also full of opportunities and places to network giving you a chance to get a foot in the door. LA has a real attitude about it, and you have to be thick skinned because it’s a city of hard workers and important people who want the job done.
For those who have worries about interning in the US, I suggest you put those aside and just enjoy yourself. It’s better to give something a try rather than wonder what could have been. I am extremely lucky and I’m not taking a second of it for granted. It’s amazing what a lot of hard work, a few (hundred) hours of research and a splash of ambition will do for a person!
My first month in LA flew in so fast I hardly had a chance to take it all in. It was only one night when I was walking back my apartment in Westwood that it really hit me how spontaneous life could be here. I heard the screaming before I saw it, and as I rounded the corner to the street leading to my apartment, I was faced with over 100 screaming girls. It was then I remember that the Charlie St Cloud premiere was being shown at the theatre in Westwood. Sure enough as I got closer to the crowd I spotted Zac Efron, advancing across the street to where I was standing. I ended up face to face with him, screaming along with the rest of the crowd; possibly one of the most surreal moments of my entire life. For all those wondering, yes he is just as gorgeous in real life! After the shock of seeing Zac Efron standing a few feet away, it was time to get back to work!
That week I attended the premiere of ‘The Dry Land’ starring America Ferrera. It was the most nervous I had been yet conducting an interview as I am a huge Ugly Betty fan. The cast were lovely and some of the guests included Avril Lavinge, Vanessa Williams and Kenny Ortega (director of High School Musical).
As well as attending events and meeting people I never imagined I ever would, I was also gaining invaluable experience in the office. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, having to call PR agents and conducting phone interviews. Although some of the tasks were difficult at first, it helped me build on my communication and people skills and has really made a difference in my every day life. My friends and I were spending more time together and I felt part of a group which is something that was important to me as I felt I belonged in LA.
Before my return home my boss at work told me she was saving some big events for me to cover during my last week. The first one was the TCA for the CW channel. This involved the media gathering at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in the grand theatre and asking cast members from various shows questions. We were shown sneak previews of the new seasons of the shows and were given exclusive information. On my arrival I was shown to the courtyard for a buffet lunch, after which I went to the foyer to carry out some research on my computer. As I was deep in thought a few people walked by my table and I glanced up and saw, to my great surprise, Matt Le Blanc. I was in such shock I couldn’t move for at least ten minutes after!
The TCA itself was very insightful. The producers of the channel spoke to the audience about plans for the future of CW and then cast from Nikita, Hell Cats and Gossip Girl took to the stage during the day to answer questions. Amongst those who attended were Ashley Tisdale, Josh Schwartz (creator of the OC), Tom Welling and the beautiful Ed Westwick! I had the honour of personally interviewing Ashley and Ed and I have to say they are two of the loveliest people I have ever met, and were happy to answer questions and pose for photos.
The same week I attended the Middle Men premiere which was held at Arclight in Hollywood. Luke Wilson and Selma Blair were two of the most exciting people I saw walk down the red carpet, and I was pleased to interview Stephanie Pratt again. I was even more pleased she remembered me because of my accent and we chatted about our love of Topshop! The carpet had a great buzz and everyone was really friendly and shared a few laughs!
My last event in Los Angeles was the ideal end to my summer in America. I was sent to the prestigious W hotel in Westwood for the Teen Choice Awards Gift Lounge. To my amazing surprise I was given a suitcase and told to go and shop! I was allowed to have my choice of all the goods on offer and picked up some amazing items! Of course I shared my new possessions with my flatmates and famil but it was a taste of the celebrity life and I loved it!
The great thing about this event was that the celebrities attending were very relaxed and more than willing to be interviewed. I spoke to Nikki Blonski, Sharni Vinson from Step Up 3D and some of the werewolves from Twilight including Alex Meraz. It was a beautiful sunny day and everyone was very friendly. It was a great opportunity to meet people and experience a day in the life of a celebrity.
My long journey back to the UK gave me time to reflect on my incredible summer. A part of me couldn’t believe it had happened, and another part was impressed at the hard work I had put into planning and researching for my time in America. It is important to remember that not every day is full of excitement and glamour, and that much of LA is just as laid back as any other city. For me, I definitely felt a connection to America, and this was the best thing to come out of my time away. I can honestly say I fell in love with LA and I would love to move there when I’m older. For those who want a memorable and amazing summer with opportunities beyond your imagination, apply for an internship in the States. Do your research, speak to people who have done it before, use your contacts and, of course, have fun!
Read more about how Leoni sourced her dream internship on her next blog.
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