acqueline Gallagher ’16 has a life many recent college graduates would envy. The Massachusetts native lives in the hip Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles and works as a casting assistant at Fiorentino Casting and Aufiero/Horn Casting, agencies that find talent for an array of TV and film clients. She spends her free time biking on Venice Beach.
Gallagher credits the Quinnipiac in Los Angeles program, QU in LA for short, for giving her the tools she needed to land that job, including a familiarity with the area. In fact, she liked the program so much that she enrolled twice, spending both Spring and Summer 2015 there. It was her boss from an internship at prominent film company Blumhouse Productions who called Gallagher with a job offer. The only caveat? They needed someone to start the following week.
“I packed up my life and started on Monday,” says Gallagher. “The rest is history.”
Gallagher puts in long days, but regards her colleagues as family. “We work hard together and stay late together,” she says. “I’m either reading with the actors or running the camera.”
Now entering its fourth year, QU in LA enables students to spend a semester or summer living, studying and working as interns in LA, the entertainment capital of the world. LA-based program director Jameson Cherilus ’12 notes that 112 students have completed internships through the program; 12 of them, now alumni, call Los Angeles home.
Companies where students have interned include HBO, William Morris Endeavor, Plan B Entertainment (Brad Pitt’s production company), Montecito Pictures, ID-PR, Television Academy, Nickelodeon, UCLA Hospital, Fox Sports West, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Sports Illustrated and H2R Productions. While the students need to secure their own internships, Cherilus and the School of Communications career development team lend a hand.
“The program is expanding, and we’ve been making wonderful connections with companies and movie studios,” Cherilus says.
While the program offers a taste of the working world and the chance to forge valuable connections, it also lets students experience the culture of Southern California. “We offer an invaluable experience outside the Northeast corridor, which is where the bulk of our students are from,” says Terry Bloom, associate dean of the School of Communications.
Students are housed in a corporate apartment complex in Marina del Rey, just a five-minute walk from the Pacific Ocean and a slew of trendy shops and restaurants. “It’s an ideal location; we’re in the middle of everything,” says Cherilus, who plans social activities for the students, including hikes to the famed Hollywood sign and visits to Catalina Island, Disneyland, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Warner Bros. lot.
“The first weekend I always take the students on a four-hour bicycle tour around Venice, Santa Monica and Marina del Ray. It’s an amazing ride,” says Cherilus, who lives in Mar Vista, just two miles from the students.
Functioning partially as a de facto den mother, Cherilus makes sure that students are not too frazzled and fields calls about everything from their rental cars to roommate disputes to how to treat a sunburn. He says his job as a resident assistant at Quinnipiac prepared him for his role. His first job out of college was in the Entertainment Marketing Department at Creative Artists Agency, where he learned how the entertainment industry works.
One of the best features of the program, he says, is the access students have to some of the top-level executives in Hollywood, most of whom take the time to provide constructive feedback. “I meet with at least three executives a week … I have a lot of Hollywood connections and know many people in power positions who want to give back to students,” Cherilus says.