Editor’s Note: This piece is part of our new series, “Intern Intel.” This series is intended to give students with internships a platform to reflect on what they have gained from those experiences. On the flip side, we hope this series will also be informative for future NYU Prague students who are considering these internships and want to know more about what to expect from them before applying.
The East Doc Platform is part of the Institute of Documentary Films, an influential and award-winning nonprofit organization in Eastern and Central Europe. Every year, East Doc hosts a series of networking, screening and workshop events on the One World Human Rights Film Festival, becoming the meeting point for over 100 key decision-makers in the European documentary film market—such as producers, filmmakers, distributors, festival programmers, etc. On the last day, there is a forum for participating production teams—who have been working on their own documentary for quite a long time—to pitch their projects to other key decision-makers. This year’s event series took place from March 9 to March 15, marking their eighth edition of the series.
When I saw the East Doc Platform’s listing on the NYU Prague non-credit internship website, there were butterflies in my stomach because I knew I really wanted to do it. As a sophomore studying Media, Culture, and Communications, I have always wanted to gain exposure to the film industry. With my past experience in public relations and doing creative campaigns, I hoped to learn more while contributing my efforts to the team as a PR Assistant. In other words, I expected to gain more insights and experience to the documentary film industry while improving my skills in PR related tasks, especially content creation in the forms of graphic designing, video editing and writing.
As a PR assistant, I mainly helped with managing social media content on East Doc’s official Instagram and Facebook during their promotional period, before and during the actual week of events at the One World Film Festival. The promotional period lasted about a month (mid-February to mid-March for this year).
If you are interested in being a PR assistant for East Doc, most of your time commitment for this position would be located within the one month in which the promotional period and actual week of events take place. Therefore, there are two main sets of tasks for the period before the week of events, and during the week. The estimated average working time is 6 to 8 hours per week, and there is flexibility because you could work from home and contact the PR Manager online—however, we do meet up once or twice a week to discuss about our progress and brainstorm for more ideas, and I often find such face-to-face communications to be more direct and helpful. After the promotional period month, you could choose to end the internship, or continue to do some follow-up work like proofreading articles or doing transcription for interviews—which are very manageable and would take less than 2 hours per week. I think that there are not a lot of qualifications besides from being social media savvy, because as long as you are passionate in PR related things and like to be responsibly creative, you will do a good job.
Before the events, you are basically brainstorming possible campaign or content ideas on social media, besides from the daily housekeeping tasks of proofreading and editing posts that are in English. By proposing a new idea, it also means that you have to come up with a viable plan to execute the idea, because you will be working closely directly with the PR Manager (who is very accepting of new suggestions) and maybe one or two other PR assistant, so it is really up to you to plan it out and make it work!
On the other hand, when you are working on-site, you will be trying to capture moments of the events (mainly with your own phone) to post contents on Instagram Story, which could instantaneously share moments from the events for our account followers. Yes—that means you could be the temporary and responsible administrator for the official Instagram account of Institute of Documentary Films. Besides, you might also be helping with the videography and recordings of the events, and there will be a lot of communication between you and other staff members. You could even talk to some of the film production teams during or after the events; they often appreciate your feedback or questions about their work. Most importantly, you have the chance to become a part of the audience as you work onsite, and you might end up watching some amazing films, as well as listening to some inspiring lectures by experienced filmmakers. For me, I was really happy that I got to watch a documentary masterpiece about species resurrections called Genesis 2.0, and I also had the chance to greet its director, Christian Frei.
I think that as an intern, I am really grateful to have planned and organized two campaign ideas on Instagram—the first one was cropping the poster image and posting separately, to maximize the resolution and achieve a stronger visual effect; the second was a countdown series called #EDPHighlight, aimed at displaying the works of the talented filmmakers while trying to attract more audiences and followers to the event. I was also thrilled to see the poster that I designed for an event about women in the film industry to be posted by multiple social media accounts—that really gave me a sense of accomplishment.
However, as an intern, it is good to keep in mind that this is a learning process. That means you will learn, through trial and error, what marketing tactics would work most efficiently—in the world of social media, this is largely defined by views and likes. Sometimes you have to accept outcomes below your original expectations, and must analyze the possible reasons from your experience. At the end of the day, this internship is only a start of what might be a long career, and we can always try again and do better next time.
I am thankful for everyone in East Doc, because they are always very supportive of my ideas while giving constructive feedbacks, and most importantly, being understanding of our academic commitments. I would highly encourage future students who are interested in PR related careers to take part in this internship, because I truly consider it to be an enhancing experience.