The Daily Show Trains Comm Arts Interns

Internships have become one of the most valuable resources available today for undergraduate students preparing for successful careers, especially in the media and entertainment industries. These positions are not only a form of on-the-job training, giving young Badgers real world experience that enhances their classroom learning, but they also allow students to make valuable industry contacts that can be essential to landing a job upon graduation. Comm Arts undergrads have access to many high-quality internships that provide them with valuable workplace experience and help give them a considerable edge when entering the workforce. One particularly unique opportunity available to Comm Arts undergrads is an internship in New York City with the television series The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The Daily Show, of course, is a half-hour late night news parody show that airs each Monday through Thursday on the Viacom-owned Comedy Central cable network. It is consistently among the highest rated news and talk programs on television, and it has won 16 Emmy Awards. Since 2006, The Daily Show has reserved at least one internship slot each fall and spring semester for a Comm Arts student. This Daily Show-Comm Arts internship program was established by Ben Karlin, a Comm Arts alum who was a writer and producer for the series from 2000 to 2006 – an excellent example of the support that Comm Arts alumni provide to our current students. Even though Karlin has since moved on to production work with The Colbert Report (which he co-created) and Modern Family, the production staff at The Daily Show has continued to offer this exciting opportunity to our undergrads. To date, a total of 20 Comm Arts majors have benefited from the internship program.

Student interns at The Daily Show gain a breadth of experience in live television production. Their primary assignment is to the production department, sourcing props, costumes, and video footage for the show. However, they also support the studio production, accounting, field production, tape library, and audience departments, as well as the control room and studio. Interns also act as liaisons between the network and the show. Indeed, Comm Arts interns are much more than “gophers.” They work 10-hour days five days per week for the entire semester, and once they become established they are quickly assigned crucial production tasks like assisting on field shoots, sitting in on edit sessions, and logging field tapes.

As one recent participant in the internship program, Samantha Overgaard, describes, “Honestly, interning at The Daily Show was one of the best experiences I have ever had. It was such a friendly environment. It was a very hands-on internship and it allowed me to learn things about the industry that I never knew before.” Samantha, who will be graduating this Spring semester, adds, “It is such an amazing show and internship that having it on my resume will, hopefully, help me stand out when I start applying for jobs.”

Our thanks to Ben Karlin and the staff at The Daily Show, as well as the many other alumni and employers who provide invaluable internship opportunities like this one to our students. Current undergrads interested in finding internships, including the Daily Show position, should explore the department’s internship webpage and consult undergraduate advisor Mary Rossa.