Quinnipiac in Los Angeles program is a professional gold rush for students

By Sam Prevot

More and more Quinnipiac students are turning down the opportunity to travel across the ocean for study abroad. Instead, they are choosing to travel across the country to Los Angeles, California for the Quinnipiac in Los Angeles program.

The QU in LA program launched in 2014. The goal of the program was to send communications students, especially film students, to LA for a semester or summer to do an internship and take classes.

Since the program’s launch, enrollment has increased by 150 percent. 26 students will participate in the program this summer, and about the same will go for the Fall 2018 semester.  

The program website boasts many well-known companies where students completed their internships. Some of those companies include ABC News, Disney, Marvel Studios, Miramax, Universal Music Group and Warner Bros.

Senior film major Remy Sullivan spent the Spring 2017 semester in Los Angeles as an intern for a company called More Media. She says the program is important for communications majors to get a taste of what it is like to be in the film or television industry and that influenced her decision to go there.

“LA is one of the top places to be right now I’m the film and television industry,” she said. “Plus I love the city and wanted to get a feel of what it would be like to live there long term.”

Mark Contreras, the new dean of the School of Communications, agrees that going to LA will benefit students in their professional lives.

“The environment (in LA) is just filled with people who do this for a living,” he said. “To me if you’re going to get out of school with a complete understanding of both coasts, it’s a really important part of your life ... Our QU in LA program puts a student right in the middle of this maelstrom.”

Contreras credits program director Jameson Cherilus for much of the program’s success. Cherilus is a Quinnipiac alumnus and is the only QU in LA faculty member that is physically in Los Angeles with the students.

Cherilus comes to Quinnipiac twice a year to provide information sessions for students and spends much of his time finding companies that will work with the university to expand internship opportunities for students in Los Angeles. He does all of this without a physical office in California or Connecticut.

“He lives in West Hollywood and his office is his cell phone. He’s very hard working.” Contreras said.

Contreras says expansion of the program is due to a combination of word of mouth from previous participants in the program and the university’s efforts to improve the program and make students more aware of the opportunity.

“I do think there is a buzz occurring largely because of Jameson’s leadership that it’s a really good experience and he’s making it that way,” he said.

There are three students majoring outside of the School of Communications that are going to Los Angeles in the summer. Contreras says this is also a growing trend with the program.

“I think as the buzz continues, more and more students will want to be out there,” he said. “One of the things I want to add as dean is you’ll be prepared but you’ll also have choice and optionality for where you go to work. To me, that’s important.”

Sullivan’s advice to other students that may want to do the program is simple: just go for it.

“Clear the fence and run,” she said. “You will not regret the experience as a whole if you want to be a part of the industry in the future.”

When it comes to future plans for QU in LA, there housing options have already been improved and Contreras is working to get more faculty members out to Los Angeles. But will there ever be a Quinnipiac campus in Los Angeles?

“No, not yet,” he said. “A person can dream … it would take a lot of planning and a lot of fundraising for us to be able to afford a permanent place.”