Resources for HSIP Applicants

Provided here are tips to help craft your resume and prepare you for interviews in the arts, media, and entertainment.

Resume Length

We strongly encourage you to limit your resume to one page—those persons reviewing your resume will scan it rapidly. Keep it uncluttered and concise, and feature skill sets that the employer is looking for. Take the time to tailor each resume for each distinct position.

If you can, help the reader by quantifying information in your job description. This can be done by including the budget amount or size of staff to provide a sense of scale. Include any accomplishments or improvements to the company because of your work. (e.g. supervised student staff of five, or increased revenue by 20%, or assisted in marketing and publicity for 500-seat theater.) If you’ve worked or interned for a recognizable name in the industry, it’s safe to include it in parenthesis in the description.

Resume Content for Internships and Entry-Level Positions
Included here are a variety of typical entry-level duties

  • Assist in development, critically reading script submissions to generate coverage [1]
  • Collect, review, and organize scripts, manuscripts, treatments, and other submissions
  • Participate in creative meetings with development executives, writers, and producers
  • Answer heavy phones, manage rolling call [2], update call sheets, maintain calendars, make appointments for meetings, travel, dinner, and other plans
  • Draft and execute company correspondence, contracts, or agreements
  • Coordinate information and communications across internal departments and/or with external entities
  • Organize and maintain office supplies, inventory, filing systems, and archives
  • Run office and personal errands (in your own car) under tight time constraints
  • Troubleshoot computer, photocopier, and fax problems; Make photocopies (you will make hundreds of copies, so if you are good at clearing paper jams, dealing with toner issues, misbehaving files, etc., and you can smile while you do it, they will love you)
  • Design decks and slides
  • Manage and create content for latest social media platforms

Be sure to include your computer experience. Typically, executives like to see the following skills for entry-level positions:

  • Typing speeds > 60 wpm
  • Fluency in Windows and Mac, and in all Google Suite and/or MS Office Programs
  • Social media management / blogging experience

Always stay up to speed with technological advances, both in learning appropriate software programs and maintaining your knowledge about media technology.

Resume content can be organized in a chronological format, or experience can be categorized by type of work. Both bullet points and paragraph style are appropriate. Remember that the left side of the page is considered "prime real estate” on the resume, (documents are read from left to right) so it’s best to place significant information on the left side of the page.

Once your resume template is complete, ask a friend to look it over with objectivity. Also, pay attention to duplicate questions by different employers, which may indicate clarity is needed on some sections of your resume.

Click here or here to download sample industry resumes.

Cover Letters

Like the resume, your cover letter should be brief. A cover letter is a great opportunity to express your enthusiasm for the job and/or to display that you’ve done your research. Use the trades (Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and search engines to learn more about the individual or company. Always include why the position appeals to you, and be honest. The reasons might include the job’s part-time status, close location to home, exposure to the people working there, or opportunity to gain specific skills. This will help the reader understand why you’re motivated to work for them, which will make it easier for them to determine if you’re a good fit.

Interviews for Internships and Employment

The interview doesn’t start with the meeting; the interview starts with the phone or Zoom call. When someone calls to invite you for an interview, you’re making a first impression with them at that moment. Whether the invitation happens via phone or e-mail, always be polite, show appreciation for the opportunity, and confirm the date and time that you’re expected to be there.

For Zoom interviews, you can log in 1 min early. For in-person interviews, twenty minutes is the traditional time to show up before the appointment. It’s always good etiquette to be nice to assistants who greet you, but in Hollywood it’s imperative. That person answering phones is trying to break in just like you, and will be rising in rank as you are. People remember people, and it doesn’t cost a thing to be polite. Be nice to everyone.

Be prepared. The more research you do before the interview, the more confident you will be in the interview room. If you’re ready to answer inquiries, whether or not you are asked to answer them, it will help your poise. If you’ve done your homework it will show.

During the interview, if you can’t field a question don’t try to pretend. As much as you may want to impress, or as much as you may be tempted to will something to happen, your efforts may backfire. Trust that the hiring managers will make the right decision when comparing you against the pool. The best strategy is to be authentic and to be organized in your thoughts. Also, they’ll expect that you come to the table with some questions and ideas of your own.

Never discuss money or offers on the first interview. If you’re called in for a second interview, it’s most likely they will broach the subject first. This applies to both internships and employment.

Most internships are unpaid, but some will offer meal or travel expenses or other perks. Internships are often a gateway to greater opportunities, but their primary purpose is exposure and experience. The most important element of an internship is to gain some skills and learn from mentors in the environment. Unlike employment, where you are paid wages for work that you do, the focus of internships is not about compensation.

Always follow up with a thank you note to the interview, as soon as possible. This can be handwritten or by e-mail, depending on what you feel is appropriate. It’s always good to leave them with a favorable impression; in the event you’re not offered the job, another opportunity may come up in the future. If you don’t get an offer, and if it feels suitable, you may want to ask if they have a colleague who may be looking for someone with your skill set. As always, be prudent in your judgment.

One final important note

Don't forget—the entertainment industry tends to value street smarts, hard work, and people skills over academia and education. Both in your cover letters and face-to-face meetings, Harvardwood strongly encourages you to convey that besides being academically qualified, you are a congenial team player, hard-working, eager to learn, and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Yes, that may mean grunt work. Making copies, coffee, running errands, walking your boss's dog, and setting up restaurant appointments certainly apply—newcomers to Hollywood are not above these tasks. Keep in mind that your interviewer is already aware of your Harvard affiliation and probably sees that you are a go-getter as you interact with her or him. Try to avoid coming across as overly aggressive, superior, or entitled - all common "Harvard" stereotypes in the industry that you should try to work against. Just relax, be professional, and approach each interview with appropriate preparation and respect.

[1] Script coverage consists of reading a screenplay or a manuscript, writing a one-page summary of the plot, a one-paragraph evaluative analysis, and a logline. A logline is a one or two-sentence description of the film.

[2] Rolling calls consists of receiving calls remotely from your boss and getting someone else on the line (who is also remote to your location), to save them both as much time as possible.

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