The film and television industry can be hard to break into, but Samantha (Sam) Harris got her foot in the door with an internship at production company, WTFN.
WTFN offers regular internships to Swinburne film and TV students, or – as they call them – ‘Swinterns’.
For many students, it’s a dream internship. The company creates kids, factual and lifestyle film and television productions like Bondi Vet, Paramedics, Emergency and Oddball: The Movie. Their programs are aired by ABC, Channel 7, Channel 9, Channel 10 and SBS in Australia, as well as UKTV in the UK and CBS in the USA. They also work with some of the biggest brands, including McDonald’s, Toyota, Purina, Bunnings Warehouse, Honda and Lipton.
With over 100 people working for WTFN – including producers, researchers, writers, camera crews, editors, graphic designers and on-air talent – Swinterns are exposed to a wide scope of careers for film and television graduates.
Film and television student, Sam Harris, on set of her graduate film
Sam’s jump from intern to employee
For Sam Harris, an internship at WTFN was more than a learning experience – it led to a job. Sam has a few subjects left to complete in her Bachelor of Film and Television (Honours) and she’s already working in the industry.
“I never expected to get a job straight out of uni,” says Sam.
After high school, she sought out as much skills development and work experience as possible. She decided to study an Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media (Film and Television) at Swinburne, which she loved. After finishing, she transferred to a bachelor degree to build even more experience.
Sam undertook her internship at WTFN in 2020. She clearly impressed the team with her project.
“I created a social media marketing plan for one of WTFN’s online series,” she explains. “I’d created marketing plans for uni, but this was the first time I’d had a chance to put it into action, track my progress and see how people reacted to it.”
I created images and video content to use on social media from home. It often surprised her what did well and what didn’t. She cites this process as the biggest learning opportunity.
“I learned not to take it personally. If something doesn’t get as many likes, it’s not because I did a bad job. It just didn’t work. I would look at why, learn from it and move onto the next thing.”
Sam is now a production assistant and office assistant. She supports the production with logistics and administration, and keeps the office running smoothly. Sometimes she’ll also help out on set.
Commercial Manager at WTFN, Derek Dyson, says, “Sam produced one of the most impressive presentations that I have seen from an intern. She is now in a full-time role with us and is already highly regarded within the business.”
Sam worked on Jamie Durie’s Groundswell as part of her social media internship, sharing posts to Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
Why businesses take work experience students
WTFN believes in paying it forward to the next generation, giving students an environment to cut their teeth in the industry. But it’s not all altruism.
It’s valuable to bring different skills into the team through internships. Derek says, “You always end up learning as much from them as they learn from you.”
Of course, Sam’s experience is the perfect example of another type of benefit.
“It’s also about getting a ‘first look’ at new talent coming out of universities,” Derek says. “It essentially creates a talent production line for your business and we have a good record of taking on talent in paid roles.”
“Swinburne has been a fantastic partner for WTFN. We’ve taken in interns from a range of courses and have managed to find relevant positions and projects for them across our business.”
The next round of Swinterns is currently working in social media on the Channel Nine series Space Invaders and Derek assures us, they’ve been “knocking it out of the park.”