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Sink or Swim? How the STUDIO’s Interns Thrive in the Deep End


President & CEO, Mary Nittolo explains how investing in young talent only works when everyone is fully committed

Sink or Swim? How the STUDIO’s Interns Thrive in the Deep End
For over a decade, the STUDIO has been giving budding animators, designers and VFX-artists the opportunity to cut their teeth in the world of work via their summer internship programme. Each year up to 20 interns are tossed in at the deep end from the word go - because Mary and her team feel this is the only way both her business and the interns can truly profit.

“We give our interns the chance to impress right away,” explains Mary. “Tight deadlines and ambitious creative briefs are par for the course in this industry, so the sooner new talent understands this the better.”

Interns at the STUDIO are expected to tackle a creative brief from a real client on a pro bono basis, as Mary and her team feel only real work will bring about the benefits the interns and the STUDIO are aiming for: “These kids have the ability, the intelligence and the drive to undertake these projects and there are so many deserving start-ups and non-profits that lack marketing budgets, so it only make sense to find an interesting client and put them to work.”

With a team of highly skilled, multi-disciplinary artists coaching the rookies for the duration of their internship, successful candidates are mentored throughout the summer. Interns get the opportunity to work on projects for real clients, and, following an in-house review and some coaching, they get to present it to the clients as well.
Mary explains: “The projects the interns are assigned are always varied but never trivial. For example, the group who interned with us in 2015 worked on the top-to-bottom re-brand of Kids Creative, a New York-based non-profit organisation offering arts based education programs for local children and teenagers.”

This summer, the STUDIO's interns carried out a brand relaunch for Kids Creative with new logo, brand guidelines, website, short films, and iconography 

By working on projects for a varied cross-section of clients, the interns’ raw academic ability, something they all have in abundance, is developed into an artistry they can call upon in their future working lives. “I was not only able to observe artists at work,” describes ex-intern Jeffrey From, “but also to study the intersections of business and creativity, which is a lesson you can’t learn in a classroom.”

Not only do the interns benefit, but the designated clients get to have important and wide-ranging work done for them pro bono. This approach has allowed the STUDIO to bolster their relationships with the growing community of NY based start-ups and small businesses whilst simultaneously fostering the ability of their interns.

Examples of work created by the STUDIO's interns

For Mary, seeing the interns’ talent mature is key: “We want to help our interns improve as professionals, but also as people. Those who intern with us come out the other side with a real portfolio, a real experience of the industry, and, one hopes, a real determination to continue the development of their skills.”

Rory Moon, a STUDIO intern in 2014, comments: “Working at the STUDIO was a very hands-on experience, and the real sense of ownership over our work was incredibly motivating. Mary and the rest of the team always encouraged me to contribute as a writer and an artist, which, for me, was the best way to learn.”

The encouragement and experience at the heart of the STUDIO’s internship program has helped more than 100 interns get their foot on the ladder, and many have gone on to climb to impressive heights. Last year, two ex-interns were awarded the Bronze Medal at the Student Academy Awards for their heart-warming animated short, Taking the Plunge.  

The STUDIO, the interns, and the clients have all benefited from the summer internship. Mary and her team get the opportunity to scope out new talent; the interns gain invaluable experience and leave with a real portfolio; and clients achieve their goals even when they lack a marketing budget. 

For Mary, however, the main benefit comes from following the progress of her past interns: “I feel immense pride that, for many of our interns, the STUDIO was the first step on the road to a long and successful career.” 

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Genres: Visual VFX, Animation

the STUDIO NYC, Fri, 19 Feb 2016 12:23:28 GMT