We caught up with international student Yiting Tsai, who is studying Film & Television at JMC Academy. As part of her bachelor studies, she undertook an internship to get some real-life experience and put her skills to the test.
So Yiting! Where did you do your internship? What was your role?
I did my internship at Cultural Infusion, a non-profit organisation. I was working in their film department and my job was to assist with the editing. In the video department they have lots of different projects, and I was dealing with documentaries. I collect all the footage; I make a short doco, and then a longer version. The shorter version is to catch the audience’s attention “come watch this! This doco is about this!” It’s really interesting, as I said they are called Cultural Infusion, so they have different people of different nationalities working there to explore different culture, so for example for my job the documentary is about musical instruments from a lot of different countries, such as China, Japan, India. Music is a really good way to learn about another culture.
That’s awesome! How did you get the internship?
My Head of Department at JMC posted the job advertisement to our class, with details how to apply. I thought it sounded really interesting, and I gave it a go.
What were your favourite things about the job?
My favourite part was reviewing the footage; it was really good because when the public view the final version there’s lots of extra footage that doesn’t make it through the edit. I got exclusive access to lots of material, and I got to decide what made it to the final cut.
How did this practical experience change your perspective of the industry?
That’s an interesting question, I had only been an editor once before for a school assignment for a short film, whereas this was a different kind of challenge. At school we were creating a fictional film, whereas this was taking the real experience of other people and making it into a documentary. So I learnt a lot about how to edit specifically for documentaries. Sometimes for me when I’m watching TV, when I see documentaries I just change the channel! I actually don’t normally watch documentaries, and I realised I needed to think about “how can I make this interesting for people like me to watch it?” I discovered documentaries are really great; they make a really big impact with the music, sound, when the presenters talk so passionately, you get drawn in!
How did your studies at JMC prepare you for your internship? What skills did you learn on-the-job?
Working in the editing department at Cultural Infusion actually felt quite similar to working on an assignment. The practical work at JMC really prepared me for this. One thing I learnt on the job was I had to manage my time differently; I was used to the way assignments are structured and having things due at the same time, whereas with this I was working on one project at a time.
Although at JMC I don’t have scheduled classes every day, I spend a lot of time studying independently, too. JMC taught me how to self-motivate and manage my time. Studying Film & Television is very creative, even when I’m watching TV with my family I feel like I am studying! Television and storytelling has always been my passion. I love how video is a way to tell people’s stories, the possibilities are endless.
What would be your advice to a student thinking about doing an internship?
If you have a lot of passion, and you see the opportunity to do an internship just go for it! It’s really fun, you get the chance to meet a lot of people and you get a great connection to the industry.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.