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Summer Spotlight: Sony Pictures Entertainment

This summer I interned at Sony Pictures Entertainment in the studio finance department. The studio lot is sort of like a campus; it occupies several hundred acres in the Culver City area of Los Angeles, complete with sound stages and office buildings.

Sony’s one of the major movie studios in the entertainment industry, and is a subsidiary of the larger Sony Corporation headquartered in Japan. The company has four main divisions: motion pictures, television, animation, and home entertainment (DVDs and Blu-Ray content), all of which are headed by co-CEOs Amy Paschal and Michael Lynton. The lot houses roughly 8,000 employees, and Sony as a multinational corporation has over 60,000.

My position in studio finance was interesting because it allowed me to make use of my background in finance and banking, while applying those skills to the entertainment industry. I researched state tax incentives related to raising capital for different productions, constructed models for which television programs were profitable to continue shooting versus which we should cancel, and assisted with the creation of financial statements.

My hours were 9-6pm, so 40 hours a week. The intern program was paid, but more interesting were the perks and benefits. Sony has a weekly happy hour on Thursdays for all employees, which my group attended religiously. There are screenings on the lot everyday free to employees, some of which were for movies already in theaters, others of which were for films that had yet to be released. There’s also the opportunity to go to tapings of the TV shows that film on the lot, and it was not uncommon to eat lunch at the cafeteria next to entertainers like Justin Timberlake and Jamie Foxx.

The SPEctrum Internship Program was very structured, and every Friday interns would assemble to hear different speakers answer our questions and discuss their careers in Hollywood, ranging from studio executives to producers and directors. Many of the interns were from California schools, so a lot of USC, Berkeley, and Stanford, but there was also a fair amount of representation from the Ivy League and other schools in the northeast. To my knowledge I was the only Wildcat in the program.

I came away with a better understanding of the studio system and the business side of entertainment. The most challenging aspect of the job was really not related to the work, as much as it was finding a way to take advantage of all of the opportunities available; it’s a bit like drinking from a fire hose, but in a good way. I’m definitely sold on the idea of working in the industry, and plan on returning to Sony next fall after graduation.

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