Jack Black will be the envy of students across the country when he graduates from New Mexico State University next May. Black is among a select group picked for a full-time ESPN internship starting in January.
“Jack is one of our digital filmmaking students,” said Amy Lanasa, department head of NMSU’s Creative Media Institute. “He will be working for ESPN next spring 40 hours per week. There were more than 1,400 applicants and Jack was one of four folks selected for this internship.”
Black will work in Charlotte, North Carolina, ESPN’s hub for college sports. He applied for the internship while a student in the portfolio review class taught by CMI professor Ilana Lapid. Black was called for interviews in November.
“I already had a demo reel of the stuff I did at work,” said Black, who has served on crews with NMSU’s Aggie Vision since he was a junior, covering football and basketball games for broadcast. “NMSU uses student crews for its games and it definitely helped me in the selection process for ESPN because it showed I had the experience they were looking for.”
Lapid’s portfolio review class helps students build websites to showcase their work for potential employers and prepare materials such as cover letters and artist statements, helping students to present themselves in the best possible light in the job market.
“I filled out the application and sent in my resume, but I think the big thing that helped me was writing a cover letter,” Black said. “We had to do it in class. Most employers say it’s optional but I think it made a big difference. Learning how to properly write one and sell one’s self really helps, especially when competing with many candidates.”
“Jack has written and directed powerful films in the classes he has taken with me, and I’m thrilled that he received this internship and will have this amazing opportunity,” Lapid said. “I know that he plans to use his gifts, his insights and personal experiences to have an impact in the world as a filmmaker.”
Lapid points to other students who have also been successful in obtaining competitive internships. Dominic Vincent won a coveted 2021 Production Fellowship with the Television Academy while Christina Zuni was chosen as a 2021 fellow in the Sundance Institute Native Lab.
“We have such talented students at cmi and it’s exciting to see them getting recognized at a regional and national level,” Lapid said. “One of the things about finding success as a filmmaker is that you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there, especially in these unc ertain times. These are the practices we focus on in the portfolio review class. Students actively find and pursue opportunities in the direction of their own dreams for their future,” lapid said.
“Our faculty deserves a lot of credit for inspiring our students to believe in themselves and go after opportunities like this one with ESPN,” Lanasa said. “It’s important to recognize how tirelessly faculty are working to help connect our students with opportunities, despite still being in a pandemic.”
Black credits Lapid’s mentorship coupled with hands-on experience at Aggie Vision with his selection for the ESPN internship. He’s hopeful the experience will lead to a more permanent position. “ESPN tends to hire within, so if you're pretty good at what you're doing and they've invested time and money into you, they tend to keep you.”