Alumni Spotlight: Interning “abroad” through SMAD in L.A.

2013 Alum, Adam Okimatsu, shared his experience living and working in L.A. during his summer “abroad”. While he may not have crossed over the pond, he was able to tailor his work and study experience to align with his future career goals.

Tell me when and where you studied abroad through JMU?

During my junior year (2008) at JMU I participated in the JMU in LA study abroad program. The summer of my study abroad was only the second year that the study abroad program was up and running.

How did the program help connect you with potential employers in order to get a summer internship?

Mr. and Mrs. O’Connor (program Directors) helped all of the students by providing links to entertainment job websites, which is where I eventually found my internship.

During my time in the program I got an internship working at an Independent Film Company in Hollywood- literally on Hollywood Blvd. Though there weren’t as many connections made then as there are now, I was able to establish myself and secure an internship that helped me build relationships with people I still connect with today.

What was your internship experience like?

My experience working in LA in my internship was very 1-on-1. A lot of my time was spent working directly with the producer/director/writer of the company in his office. He had just finished post-production of a film called Rough Hustle, so my day-to-day responsibilities consisted of contacting different marketing agencies all over the area to convince them to distribute the film in theatres and on DVD. I also ran the company’s social media presence.

SMADINLA2

The Oakwood Apartments (where we stayed for 2 months) were awesome; right across the street from Warner Bros Studios. It gave us all the feel of being a young professional, making it in LA. I also really liked the size of the group. There were about 20 of us, which made it just small enough where we all got to know each other really well.

Overall, how would you say your experience helped you prepare for your career?

The program as a whole was great. And since my summer spent in the program there are even more relationships out in Los Angeles, and the internship process and quality is even greater.

My career now as an email marketer doesn’t directly connect with my time in LA, however, I currently produce short and feature films and I still am in contact with the producer/director that I worked for in LA. He has remained helpful throughout the past 3 years and has been willing to give his advice and feedback on all my projects since I worked with him. The relationships I created have been invaluable and the greatest takeaway from my study abroad.

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