Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Debrief: Why the Spring 2015 Application Season Was Incredibly Weird


Welcome to the end of the Spring Application season. The major studio's have all extended their offers (except Sony) and many of you are already beginning the task of filling out the tiresome pre-hire paperwork. P.S. If you are with DisneyABC, try filling it out on a Windows- suddenly gets 85% easier. 

If you have not yet gotten an internship for the Spring, please turn your attention to Entertainment Careers

We are about to go over several reasons why you possibly didn't get an internship at the Big Studios and how and why things were so different this time around. 

An Abstention and a Late Adopter

First off, there was less total internships this season available to those willing to intern in California. Sony totally abstained from hiring interns this semester (see more info on the connections between Interns and the Sony Hack here). 

Lionsgate switched over to a Paid Internship program and became the last major studio holdout no longer! This wasn't particularly surprisingly as I gave them a year last June, although I figured they would wait till Summer. This is obviously an awesome move, but one not without consequences. Lionsgate used to hire more interns in more departments (i.e. Alternative TV Development and Scripted TV Development), now there is one to two interns in the entire TV department. 

Combined with the fact that Discovery Communications, TimesWarner, and Fox offered less total internships- there was less internships to be had. 

Early to Start, Late to Finish, and a Whole Lot of Waiting

ABC started recruiting early this year, earlier than ever before. I'm talking August/September. An aggressive Facebook and video campaign was topped with more applications than ever before. However, around October to November, all communication from ABC dropped off. Applicants are just now being notified.

They weren't alone. Discovery Communications started interviewing via recorded video in September. With second in-person and Skype interviews not happening until early December. A large gap of uncertainty that has been unparalleled in recent years. 

Fox just started interviewing for its Spring Internship program after accepting applications in September/ October. 

Surprisingly, Viacom and newcomer Lionsgate were more on the ball*. Having a second round (phone and survey respectfully) in October and final interviews in Novembers. Offers were given in early December. This ideal calendar was utterly dismissed by their competitors who seem to just have been overwhelmed with applications this fall. 

*I don't currently have any information on NBCUniversal. Although I have found that their HR is usually pretty on top of it. Please comment/email with your experience. 

I would like to say that this will change during the Summer Application season, which is typically longer. However, as they were overwhelmed with the number of applications for Spring, the nearly triple number of applications for Summer are unlikely to result in a quicker selection process. Be prepared for some serious waiting this summer. 

Push Back the Date for Offer Letters

Most offer letters are now going out in late December to early January, when they used to be released in late November to early December.

Did I mention Fox just started interviewing?

There are a lot of things wrong with this. As smaller production companies generally have a faster application process and you may already have an internship lined up by the time these larger companies get around to interviewing you. Or you will be freaking out during finals and holiday breaks that you haven't yet heard back from a single internship. 

The Increasing Implementation of Double to Triple Step Processes 

Long gone are the days of one in-person interview. A trend that started with Disney ABC and NBC Universal sending their HR persons on phone interviews to potential applicants, most studios have implemented a new tri- or dual-system of interviewing. These steps may include preliminary phone calls with HR, filling out worksheets, short essays, and even calling or emailing your REFERENCES. 

Yes, Lionsgate and other companies are now checking your references. To be prepared, make sure to have at least 2 solid references and 3 possible backups. These can be former internship supervisors or favorite professors. Just, let them know before that you listed them as references on the application and follow up with them if the company says they are contacting your references. You can even offer to write sample paragraphs if your references don't have time to answer the company's long questioner. 

These systems obviously take much longer than one step processes used by most entertainment careers listings. It also requires more data which can lead to the HR department becoming easily overwhelmed. 

Less Personalization 

For the first time in my entire life, I got a second interview offer letter with the starting words "Dear Applicant." This has generally been a "no-no" in the industry. However, the sheer amount of applicants for such few positions may have finally resulted in a less personalized interview experience. Seen in the implantation of worksheets and mini-essays now required by many companies (and always required by HBO, ironically). 

Final Thoughts

Although we can hope that these trends will not continue in the Summer Application Season starting in January/ February - the sheer amount of applications and the limited amount of spaces are likely to continue causing HR delays and "weird" application seasons. 

1 comments:

  1. Anonymous1/16/2015

    NBC is currently interviewing - I actually applied in early October and just heard back from them last week and had my interview this week. And Disney is still interviewing this week too but this is the final week as most of their california positions start Monday - but a close friend of mine had an interview there this week, and I had one there last week and didn't find out until today that I didn't get the internship.

    ReplyDelete