My New York Connection ’18 Experience

After boarding the bus at 6:30am, we arrived at our drop off location, Bryant Park, around 11:45am. Half the bus departed and made their way to NBC for their first site visit, while the other half walked around 5th avenue for about 45 minutes until we were set to meet in the Chrysler Building lobby for the Agency Track’s first visit: Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

When we arrived at the Chrysler building, my immediate thought was: “Wow this looks like the set to a murder-mystery-noir.” As our guide led us upstairs, the smell from the resilient wood, marble and tile surrounded us, creating an old-timey-Hollywood feeling.

Ding! We stepped off the immortal elevator and onto a pristine and clean white floor. The walls were either glass or white, encrusted with tasteful gold detail or marked by three gold letters “CAA.”

CAA houses about 200 employees in their NYC office and an upwards of 600 in their LA office, along with 5,000 clients.

Our guide led us around the large office which occupied the entire floor, as assistants, interns, and other employees (nearly all in a charcoal/grey uniform) watched us through their glass boxes. As we entered the conference room, we were seated into an audience-style set up whose chairs contained red CAA notebooks. We had the option to drink iced water out of fragile glass cups, which I believed was a brave choice considering all of us were pretty nervous. I can proudly report that not one glass was shattered by Emerson.

A woman dressed in a floral maxi skirt with red flowers on it introduced herself, welcomed us to Creative Artists Agency and then played their “sizzle” reel. Their reel consisted of A-list celebrities in music, sports, film, and television. They also represent screenwriters, authors, brands, and enterprises. And let’s not forget… BEYONCÉ!

After the reel finished, three employees came up to the front and had a relatively formal interview, formulated by our host. We got to hear about first-hand experiences from a man who works in the book department who recently worked on Reese Witherspoon’s new book, another man who is well versed in the music business, and a young woman who assists a television agent by making sure clients show up to auditions and book work. They allowed us to ask a few questions and then an Emerson alum, kindly, joined us back in the lobby to escort us downstairs.

We walked down rainy Madison Ave from 42nd Street to 26th Street, then parted to find lunch. This was a great opportunity to get a taste of what roughing it in NYC is really like. After a quick bite to eat, we rounded back up at Gersh Talent Agency around 3:30pm. 

Gersh Talent Agency is made up of about 60 employees in their NYC office and around 200 in their LA office, with a rough total of 2,000 clients. The New York office has many divisions: lit, talent, film, television, theater, branding, etc. 

The building itself was understated and modern. We were welcomed into a conference room where we all gathered around a table filled with beverages and a dessert tray. I opted for a window seat in front of an incredible view. 

Our host, Luke, introduced himself and the company in a very natural and inclusive manner. He mentioned that Gersh was created by Emerson Alum, Bob Gersh. While people were wowing and indulging in chocolate covered strawberries, Luke brought in a knowledgeable woman who deals with literary deals; books to film and packages.

She iterated Gersh’s personal value of putting the client first. The next woman we spoke to was creative, energetic, and extremely clever. She spoke about her expertise, global branding, and shared a story about working with Adam Driver and a brand to maintain his artistic ethics and beliefs, again emphasizing Gersh’s strong value of integrity. 

Lastly, we got to hear from a talent agent who shared the intensity and long hours that her job demands of her. She also shared that it can be incredibly rewarding. I asked her what she looks for when finding “new” talent and she answered by saying, “intelligence.” It wasn’t pretentious in any way, in fact it was respectable. Gersh is doing something different than other agencies, and it was encouraging to hear that a small company, founded upon integrity, artistic truth, and intelligence can have such a large role in narrative development and representation in the industry and our world.

Luke ended our visit with a tour around the office where other employees greeted us, and wished us luck. From Gersh, we jumped on the subway and rode to the final site, an alumni meet and greet with the three other track groups.

We got to hear speeches from three Emerson alums: Joel Schwatzberg ’90, Senior Director of Strategic & Executive Communication for the ASPCA; Lane Brenner ’13, one of the founders of the Boston Strong campaign from 2013/current leader of the children’s program at the Jewish Museum, and Fran Berrick ’85, owner of Spearmint Career Coaching, who provided us with an in-depth presentation about career readiness and maintaining creative relationships.

After the final event ended, we waited for the bus, had some pizza, and then made our way back to Boston. We arrived around 1:30am, exhausted but so incredibly inspired.

If you’re interested in interning in New York City, this trip is a great way to dip your feet in and try it on for a day. I highly recommend the agency track, however, if you’re interested in marketing & branding, writing, literature & publishing, or multimedia journalism tracks 1-3 are the perfect options for you. If none of them apply to your interests or major, I still recommend giving one a chance because you never know what you’ll learn, and at the very least, you’ll get to spend a day in the Big Apple.

Keep an eye out for the Trip invitation next Fall 2019 around November 2019.

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By Peer Career Advisor
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