Starting in the spring of 2023, students from Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media will have the opportunity to spend a semester in Los Angeles and gain valuable experience integrating themselves into the media environment.
For the immersive residency program, students will live in Burbank, California, intern at a media company and take anywhere from one to two online courses at Montclair State. Alongside this, they will take an in-person course called The Los Angeles Media Industry.
The opportunity will offer a useful contrast to the institutions and media around Montclair State, allowing students from the New York City-adjacent Montclair State campus to familiarize themselves with the people and institutions vital to film and television in Los Angeles.
Todd Kelshaw, associate director of the School of Communication and Media, explains why the program is an amazing opportunity for students.
“Students can get a great sense of how LA is different from the NYC media environment, which is of great value in terms of how professional doors can open, not just in internships but also in terms of learning institutions and people,” Kelshaw said.
If accepted to the program, students will have to pay the cost of their Montclair State tuition but would be excused from paying for a meal plan or residential housing at Montclair State.
Instead, students will pay four months’ rent through Kapi Housing at AVA Burbank, which will be approximately $1,600 per month in 2022.
The initial launch of this program is looking mainly at junior film and television majors, though applications are not solely for juniors. Seniors or advanced sophomores are not discouraged from applying.
Kelshaw further explained which students would be the best fit for the program.
“Obviously if [sophomores] need required classes here it would not be great for them,” Kelshaw said. “This first run is ideal for juniors, but as [the residency program] is offered in the future, students will be able to plan ahead and plan schedules around the program.”
Though the program itself is new, previous residency programs have taken students to Puerto Rico, New Orleans and Los Angeles, usually for around 10 days over spring break.
Keith Strudler, director of the School of Communication and Media, said how important and exciting the program is.
“Lots of people have contributed to making this happen,” Strudler said. “I’ve been focused and excited about starting a semester-long LA program as soon as we scheduled our first short-term program out there.”
To help create this, Strudler sunk a considerable amount of time into the process, including research into similar programs at other universities, on-site scouting for housing, along with meeting potential internship providers and instructors for the in-person LA media course.
With the initial run of the program this spring, Strudler is hoping students take full advantage of the opportunity, asking students applying to consider how the program will benefit them and their careers.
“[I ask students] to really think about what they would hope to get out of the experience and how they can fully leverage the time in LA, both through the work they do in an internship and the relationships they can build while out there,” Strudler said.
Looking toward the future, both Strudler and Kelshaw believe much can be done to improve and expand upon this first run.
Plans to improve flexibility, by offering the semester in the spring and fall, potentially in the summer as well, along with sending larger groups of students, have been discussed.
Other ideas, such as offering more courses in LA, would help to alleviate any scheduling conflicts holding back students from taking full advantage of this program.
In all, the program will look to integrate itself into the existing infrastructure in LA, to establish a real and sustained link between the west coast entertainment industry and Montclair State.
“I want Montclair [State] to have a true presence in LA and for employers to recruit specifically from us for internships,” Strudler said.
Joe Forbes, a junior sports communication major, says the program sounds like an amazing opportunity.
“For me [my] mindset basically is like, wow that would be cool,” Forbes said. “[There are] markets that are so big for obviously Montclair [State], [but LA] being such a big [area for] music, film, all that. So it would be for [all] of that, I mean it’s a great opportunity.”
Forbes also says the housing price sounds reasonable.
“Knowing how the housing is and how crazy it’s gone, for [coronavirus] (COVID-19) it was very easy to buy a house during COVID-19 those first few months,” Forbes said. “Now housing is through the roof because of the economic inflation everything’s [going through]. So $1,600 is fair.”
The program is selective, with a cap of around 15 students for the spring, but any student in the School of Communication and Media who can show how developing a familiarity with Los Angeles can help them attain their learning goals is encouraged to apply.
The application for the program is due Sunday, Oct. 9, and can be found on the School of Communication and Media website.