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MFJS Students Gain Professional Experience with Lance Clem Award

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Media, Film & Journalism Studies

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Every year, three students in the Media, Film and Journalism Studies department receive awards to help fund their summer internship. This is awarded through the Lance Clem Program. Lance Clem (BA '72), an MFJS alumnus, longtime journalist and public policy advocate, established this program for future MFJS students through his estate upon his passing in 2016. The 2021 awardees shared their summer internship experiences with us.

This past summer, Ambriel Speagle, Lila Ruppe and Michael Cox were the recipients of the Lance Clem Awards. These three students completed summer internships that will help jumpstart their careers in their chosen field.

Ambriel Speagle, Senior Journalism Studies major: 303 Magazine

Ambriel Speagle

Over the course of this past summer, I completed an internship at 303 Magazine, working exclusively under the Fashion Desk. As an intern, my primary duties consisted of pitching stories every month and then writing said stories once they were approved by my editor. I typically wrote five articles a month, getting the opportunity to interview local business owners and creatives within the Denver fashion scene. Some of my favorite stories to write were about Denver’s growing vintage and thrifting scene, as I was able to write about these vintage curators as their businesses were just opening.

I was also able to profile a multitude of local boutiques and brands, some of which were celebrating over a decade of business. Regardless of the type of business or person I was profiling, however, I felt in full creative control of the content I was producing. I received valuable feedback from my editor while still having a say in the types of stories I was writing. The staff at 303 Magazine is made up of a dynamic group of young editors and writers who created a welcoming environment for the interns. Communication between photographers, editors, staff writers and interns was frequent and easy, making it a great space for learning.

As someone who has a strong interest in writing for a fashion or lifestyle magazine in the future, my time spent at 303’s Fashion Desk was incredibly valuable. Following a specific beat for three months proved to be a rewarding challenge. I feel far more confident in my skills as a journalist than I did prior to my internship, largely due to tangible, purposeful work I had the opportunity to put out. I was not only able to sharpen my pitching and writing abilities, however, as I was able to make meaningful connections with contacts in the industry as well. Working as an intern at 303 was both hands-on and flexible, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to significantly build their portfolio in a meaningful way.

Lila Ruppe, Senior Media Studies Major: Studio 71

Lila Ruppe

Before last June, talent management was a foreign world to me that I wanted to explore. Studio71 gave me the opportunity to do that. I spent the summer diving into talent management; I learned the ins and outs of deals, negotiations, and pitch calls. I got to complete hands-on tasks that I never imagined doing. Best yet, Studio71 prepared me for my current internship on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and opened countless windows for my future in the entertainment industry.

For context, Studio71 is a full-service digital talent management company based in Beverly Hills. They manage high-profile YouTubers and content creators and have worked with everyone from Emma Chamberlain to Jimmy Tatro. I had the opportunity to sit in on pitch meetings and learn the ropes of digital talent management. I helped put together deals and learned how to email partners. Talent management is an intense, complex world, and Studio71 allowed me the best possible introduction to it.

Studio71 has a well-developed internship program designed to allow interns to reach their maximum potential, and I took full advantage of that. The program allowed me to network with talent managers in their Beverly Hills office, as well as work with a team to pitch a business idea at the end of the summer. I and three other interns were assigned a coach to come up with a stellar professional business idea to pitch to the entire company. I acted as project manager for the pitch, which we worked on for weeks, and my team took second place in the end-of-summer pitch competition.

Whether you’re pursuing a career in talent management or don’t even know the difference between a talent manager and agent, Studio71 is a fantastic company to get started with. I am grateful for my time with them and can’t wait to see how the skills I acquired benefit my future with NBCUniversal.


Michael Cox, Junior Film Studies & Production major: Up in the Chair

Michael Cox

For my internship during the summer of 2022, I worked for a small start-up called Up In The Chair as a Social Media/Online Content Creator. The position was entirely remote, and my essential duties were largely centered around video editing. During that summer, the company was primarily focused on launching the “Uplifter’s Club,” meant to help children connect as they return to schools after COVID. As such, I was in charge of creating video promotions for this launch.

Each promotion was short-form and required that I wrote a script, found another intern to do the voice over (or begrudgingly did it myself if I had to), and then edited the assets together in Adobe Premiere. There was a fair bit of stock footage and royalty-free music scouting along the way. Along with another video intern, we created a publication plan and brand image to help facilitate the videos. Much of the content focused on young children, though the Club was also applicable to high schoolers and college students as well. I didn’t handle much of the actual publication of the videos, but I did oversee the company's YouTube channel and managed the uploads and content for it when necessary; the same goes for the digital assets within the company’s ClickUp.

Being such a small and young company, I had a lot of creative freedom when it came to the branding and video style; short of a few color requirements, the style was largely up to the video intern’s vision. I aimed to make the videos feel professional, making minimal use of interesting but spotty looking transitions and color correcting stock footage to bring it more in line with the tone of a particular video and branding. My goal in taking those actions was to hopefully appeal to parents and make them take the company seriously since they would ultimately be making the decisions related to their children’s education.

While the internship was nothing absurdly demanding, I appreciated it for being my first piece of professional experience, and it has already started opening doors for me that I did not expect. I got to work with longer hours, stricter deadlines, and more consistent time in Premiere than I previously had in the classroom and learned the complexities (and annoyances) that go into a remote workplace. The company may have been small, but my supervisors were very passionate about the work, so the several videos I churned out never felt meaningless. While I look forward to new and more complex positions, I’m grateful for what Up In The Chair offered as a jumping off point and remain in contact with my supervisors.