I was having really bad trouble sleeping. I would wake up at 3 or 4 am unable to sleep, then roll around doing absolutely nothing, trying to go back to sleep. Then realizing the sun was rising and it was morning.
That was before I entered the world of WME | IMG. One of the most devastating forces in the entertainment industry that today looks less like a Talent Agency and more like an Entertainment Conglomerate (they just bought the UFC for $4 Billion).
One of the biggest surprises was that I needed to be like an athlete at this internship. I had to become Lebron James!
… On and OFF the Field.
The agents that work for WME | IMG craft the career goals and make deals for clients like Oprah Winfrey, Dwyane The Rock Johnson, Serena Williams, Drake, Steven Spielberg, The Kardashians, University of Michigan Football, The Fine Brothers, and many more.
My 2 goals. Learn about the industry (industries*) and expand my network as much as possible.
“As much as possible” is italicized because there’s a wide gap between doing a great job and maximizing on the opportunity. They gave us free reign. We could email anyone in the company and try to setup a meeting, or a lunch, or a shadow (where an intern shadows an agent’s assistant listening in on phone calls) to expand our own personal network, and learn about the industries, and whatever other goals interns might have.
This is why it was crucial, there was a mere 6 weeks to properly tap into one of the biggest network and information hubs in Hollywood. As long as we did our core mailroom duties as interns (sort and deliver mail, run errands for assistants, read and write reports on scripts) our overseers didn’t care if we had 5 meetings or 500 of them. It was up to us to set our own bar of success. Setting my bar was very simple… My absolute best.
I realized during the first 5 days how hard and how draining that was going to be.
On the Field.
I talked to everyone…Other interns, assistants, floaters (full time employees at the bottom), janitors, security guards. Even as an extrovert it eventually became exhausting, but I was genuinely interested in learning about people and their stories, and connecting with them. My first 2 days I learned everything about the mailroom, I sent emails to assistants for meetings, I took a 20 minute walk with a huge movie poster to fedex and back with uncomfortable shoes in a hot suit when it was nearly 100 degrees in Beverly Hills with directions to not get a spec of dirt, or sweat on it.
Off the Field.
My rental car got stolen the 2nd day of the internship. Called the cops, it actually got towed.
The commute was already over an hour each way in LA traffic. Retrieving it from the impound caused me to be very late (and tired) 2 days in a row. My bosses understood, but it didn’t make me look great. More importantly it took away from valuable time I could spend working towards my 2 goals. 6 weeks isn’t a long time, and because of off field issues, I was already down to 5 without much to show.
The bright side was that that weekend, I slept like a baby. I also realized how much sharper, well rested, and prepared I was going to have to be. I had to put on my game face and treat this like I was an athlete if I was going to maximize this amazing opportunity to my standards.
… ON and OFF the Field.
I got the car situation together, I began writing intro emails at home to save time at work, I bought insoles for my shoes.
It only became more challenging. People say yes to meetings, but then you need to research them and their clients and craft good questions, and write handwritten thank you notes after.And deliver mail, read scripts, write reports, and run errands for assistants. And say hello to everyone, make relationships and be on your best behavior at all times, you never know who’s watching. Hide your tiredness or irritability, better yet remove them entirely so you don’t waste energy faking it. A bad meeting is worst than no meeting, so don’t plan more meetings than you can properly prep for (learned that the hard way), a good meeting is great but leads to more networking after work or someone asking you to watch something they recommend or something else…
Which is all great of course but requires energy… GOOD energy not McDonalds energy.
Eat better, sleep well, balance your energy and your budget and your image. Triple check to make sure the coast is clear like Nemo’s Dad in Finding Nemo whenever you park in LA. Be sharp ON and OFF the Field.
I’m just like a professional athlete. I’m just like Lebron James!
But I’m exhausted. And it’s only been 5 days.
(And there’s a slight pay gap between us thanks to the NBA’s new TV deal.)
Lebron does his movie deals thru WME. I should try to shadow that assistant and learn how it works! Great idea let me look it up, and research that and… ANDRE RAY! “They’re calling for you upstairs, you did such a good job carrying that poster to Fedex they want you to go back now!”
Guess I’ll have to put that touchdown on hold. Maybe never get back to it, what do I prioritize? It’s completely up to me. There’s no blueprint. I have to make it up, but I can’t mess it up. Make the wrong person upset and you could literally damage your entire career. Hollywood is a small town.
You asked for this though right! You wanted this? You literally told them after you came back from Fedex the last time to call you personally if they ever needed anything else. You could easily do the minimum. When they say “ we need someone to do X” you don’t have to raise your hand so fast. If you raise your hand slowly you’ll still look like you wanted to do it. Isn’t that good enough? Sure that coffee run could turn into a great, career-altering relationship with someone, but it probably won’t be. It’ll probably just be a regular coffee run. Do you think this is fun?!
Of course! I love this! This is why I came here. I’m being pushed to do my best. What’s the value of an A+ or a 4.0 that only takes half my effort. (well it’s still pretty valuable, but you know the point I’m trying to make!) The value of reaching your limits then expanding them, being sharp, strategizing your day, growing, all that jazz.
My internship ended. I feel really good about what I accomplished in my 6 weeks. I met with assistants, and floaters, and even some important agents. I learned SO MUCH, I listened in on deals being made on phone calls that I read about the next day online. I wish it was longer as there was still people I wanted to have meetings with! One caveat is that the athletic pace and focus has stuck with me.
I woke up at 3am unable to sleep, I rolled around doing absolutely nothing for a few minutes… Then I got up and started writing this blog post. It’s morning now, the birds have begun chirping outside my window. I’ve checked something else off the checklist.