Bridging the Internship Gaps
As a key driver of labor pipelines and bellwether of labor conditions, internships play a significant role in the media and tech industries. In this time of change, as both industries rebound and restructure in the wake of COVID-19, CEMI is embarking on a large-scale, multi-year research project into the state of media industry internships: what courses and experiences most benefit students as they move into the industry; what literacies and skills are most needed within those industries and sectors; what outcomes students and companies routinely experience as a result of ethical and mutually beneficial internship programs, etc. Addressing all tenets of our mission (convergence, access, and location), this project connects and mobilizes all of our current research, outreach, educational, and experiential initiatives in Moody College, in Austin, and in Texas.
Internships have become a critical first step for promising careers in the media industries. Yet, there have been significant obstacles in access, experiences, and outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated structural changes in media industry employment. Departing from the metaphor of a linear, leaking pipeline, this project examines internship gaps through a network lens that bridges the perspectives of students, educational institutions, and employers. Using mixed methods of survey, interview, and digital data, we focus on the networked nature of internships in relation to social capital, cultural capital, techno-capital, networking skills, and entry barriers. The project will provide evidence-based insights on how universities, media organizations, and professional associations can work together to make internships more accessible, affordable, and beneficial, especially for students from marginalized backgrounds. The knowledge gained will help academy and industry develop a more stable, symbiotic relationship and nurture the next generation of media professionals in a rapidly evolving landscape where media effects have never been so profound nor media work so fluid. It will help disadvantaged students obtain and benefit from meaningful internship experiences and eventually develop fulfilling careers while contributing to greater diversity in media representation.
Work-in-Progress Book Project
Drawing from and expanding on interviews conducted through the Media Industry Conversation (MIC) speaker series, Work-In-Progress sheds light on the rapidly evolving nature of work in Hollywood, Texas, New York, and beyond. Quotes from a variety of creatives and executives—including producers, development executives, talent agents, distribution executives, brand managers, festival organizers, and much more—are synthesized, analyzed, and contextualized in order to provide a snapshot of how people at varied ranks and from diverse industry sectors navigate a rapidly transforming industry. Among the topics explored in the book include how and why people have followed distinct career trajectories, the ways that professional identities and work roles have changed in an age of digitization, conglomeration, and globalization, and how larger technological, cultural, economic, and industrial forces are impacting both business considerations and creative practices. Under contract with Routledge, Work-In-Progress is designed to complement existing media textbooks with in-depth interviews and guided analysis, walking students through the process and practice of unpacking industry discourse. This book mobilizes our resources for use by faculty, students, and industry personnel throughout the world—making UT's alums and their observations available, accessible, and teachable for as many different constituencies as possible.