The Weight of Weightlessness

Applying for internships is a daunting experience because the truth is that you can apply to 50 internships and hear back from one without any offer. With more students enrolled in colleges and applying for internships from top universities, the competition is fierce. You must do everything possible to market yourself: attend resume workshops, speak with the Career Center, join clubs, and take relevant coursework. I almost single-handedly landed my internship this past summer based on taking a course relevant to the industry in which I desired to work. Yet, I contend that it is the journey of a college education that prepares you for the workforce and strengthens your resume, rather than the postcard you receive at the end.

Johns Hopkins Uinversity Center for Leadership Education Universal Studios Social Media Marketing

Johns Hopkins prepared me for a summer internship at Universal Studios that was both challenging and rewarding.

Last summer I interned in the Creative Advertising department at Universal Pictures, where I worked on creating trailers and designing posters for upcoming releases. I have always been interested in film, but never taken any film courses at Hopkins and only recently declared a Film & Media Studies minor. I’m an English major, and the majority of courses on my transcript hail from those departments. Last fall, however, I decided to try a course on social media marketing. I reasoned that because the film industry is infamously cutthroat and impossible to break into, I should probably have at least some basic knowledge in another, more directly applicable field. With the increased value of social media sites and a company’s ability to connect directly with their consumers through numerous platforms, I believed this course had far more practical utility than any Shakespeare seminar.

While the course was both engaging and wildly interesting because its subject is so prevalent to our generation, what helped me get the internship was the final project: a complete social media marketing campaign for Man of Steel, the newest Superman film that premiered this summer. When I interviewed with Universal, my knowledge of the creative marketing arm of the film industry and the detail with which I could discuss the marketing campaigns of other films impressed executives enough to hire me.

Although the course helped me get the job, I arrived at Universal Studios and was thrown into the Hollywood bustle to discover that very little of the knowledge I had about marketing or film was particularly pertinent, if only because the real world is not synonymous with textbook material. As one of the executives would say of the industry, “It’s a constant fire drill. There is no course at Hopkins on firefighting.”

Even though my breadth of my knowledge was not wholly applicable, the skill set I acquired from Hopkins and this particular course was. Throughout your time at Hopkins, you learned how to articulate your ideas effectively, to “always say the right thing”. You nurtured persistence to turn in an assignment that exhibits the best of your capabilities, not just a draft that was the fastest and easiest to complete. You cultivated the ability to think creatively, to solve problems efficiently, and strategize successfully. You learned how to perform research. You learned to manage your time and form mature, adult relationships. And perhaps most importantly, you learned to do things you may not want to do, and do them well.

This is the real value of your college education. Yes, my final project in social media marketing garnished my resume and illustrated a foundation of relevant knowledge, yet it was how the course taught me to think about marketing and strategy that allowed me to thrive at Universal, in combination, of course, with my passion for the product I was marketing.

While at Universal, I did not know how to market a film. I did not know what a tentpole film was, or a competitive reel, but because of Hopkins, I had the toolbox to learn quickly and lucratively. I knew how to think. When I sat down with one of the executives on my last day, he described to me how critical these skills really are, saying: “you don’t know the importance of how you answer the phone until you hear someone do it wrong.” You cannot possibly understand the importance of what you have until you realize that not everyone has the same toolbox you have as a Hopkins graduate.

So take a deep breath. Take that philosophy course. You may not remember Aristotle’s theories on dialectic logic, but you’re going to learn something far more useful, something that might not appear on your resume or on the syllabus, but when you’re sitting in a conference room next summer having to research past movie trailers and campaigns, you will probably exercise the same diligence and resolution required to write that final essay or study for that final exam. And this is the true value of your education, and how something so intangible and seemingly weightless can weigh tons.

– Andrew Townson ’14 atownson@jhu.edu.

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One thought on “The Weight of Weightlessness

  1. Pingback: The Weight of Weightlessness | jhublogs

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