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Graduating from UCLA in Four Years with Internships and Studying Abroad

July 9, 2014
Dublin High School Alum and UCLA Graduate Deanna Hong

Deanna Hong

Meet Dublin High School Class of 2010 and UCLA Class of 2014 graduate Deanna Hong, the latest contributor to’s Life After College series of articles. Deanna first wrote about her experiences at UCLA in December 2010, at the midway point of her freshman year. caught up with Deanna at a Starbucks near Dublin High School to hear the rest of her UCLA story. With each article in this series a theme emerges; Deanna’s story highlights the value of internships and the entrepreneurial spirit needed to consistently land good jobs. We also learned about the magic of instant replays and what that has to do with “Elvis”. Fast forward from your original article on your first year at UCLA to how you settled on a major.

Deanna Hong: “When I wrote the article I said I wanted to apply to the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. At the end of my first year I was accepted into UCLA Communications Studies, started taking classes in that major and absolutely loved it. By the end of my second year I’d thought about it a bit more. I knew that I wanted to do video editing but I loved my communications classes so much that I ended up reasoning that a lot of people work in the film industry without a degree in film, and that my technical skills and experience would speak more than my degree would. I decided I should study something that I really enjoy so that if I decide to leave the film industry someday I’d have a background in another field. I ultimately graduated as a Communications Studies major with a French minor.” What role did internships play in helping you figure out what you wanted to do after college?

Hong: “All of my internships have been in video production, and it’s funny because I’ll sometimes feel that I don’t know what I want to do and my friends will tell me ‘Deanna, clearly you want to edit videos, that’s what you’ve been doing since you were fourteen!’.

“My first internship came from a mock interview during Dublin High School’s CHEE program. I ended up interning for two summers for Simpson Strong-Tie, doing video production. After my third year I interned for the YouTube channel Comediva, which is a channel for comedy written by women, with a mostly female crew.” What is video editing all about?

Hong: “Video editing kicks in once footage is shot, although in a lot of my internships I was also there for production. Video editors figure out how to arrange all the footage to tell a story. My favorite parts of video editing are storytelling and invoking reactions from the audience, whether that’s making people cry, making people laugh, or even shocking people. I love sitting with people after I’m done and watching their reactions. Editing is sometimes called ‘the invisible art’; a film wouldn’t be a film without an editor.” What inspired going aboard for a semester and what was the experience like?

French Alps

Deanna Skiing in the French Alps

Hong: “I started studying French at Dublin High School and when I was 16 started learning Norwegian on my own. I’ve loved Norway since I was 15 and decided to be ambitious with my study abroad and combine two trips. Last summer I was in Oslo, Norway at the University of Oslo International Summer School, which is an amazing 6-week program with 600 students from 96 countries. I got to meet people from all over the world and speak Norwegian every day, it was my dream come true. The one year anniversary for that trip just passed a week ago and a lot of us are on Facebook saying ‘I miss you guys!’

“I’ve been studying French for 7-8 years now and decided to study in Lyon, France. I lived with a French host family and attended a French university where I went to school alongside French students.” How did you manage to stay on track and graduate in 4 years while studying abroad in two countries?

Hong: “I started college undeclared. Once I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in Communications there was a minimum number of courses required before I could even apply for the major. Many of my lower division courses also counted towards my general education requirements, and I was able to complete my French major while I was in France. It worked out really well. Dublin High AP classes helped too, for example I was able to fulfill my Stats requirement with AP Stats.” Talk about the transition from general education to locking in on a major.

Hong: “With Communications I ended up taking some courses that I really loved. I found what I was passionate about, and I was fortunate to have a very wide variety of courses to choose from. There are sub-divisions within UCLA’s Communications major, with the two main ones being mass and interpersonal. While it would have made sense for me to focus on mass communications given my profession, I was really interested in interpersonal communications, which lends itself to social psychology. To this day my favorite course at UCLA was Social Psychology, which was taught by my favorite professor.

“I liked that in my upper year courses the classes are smaller and you really get to know your professors. As you settle into your major, you have friends in your major, and you know your professors; it’s really nice.” What were your strategies for having a steady stream of internships?

Hong: “My first internship happened while I was still in Dublin High School, through the ROP program. The Comediva internship came about through a connection my mom met in the film industry, who connected me with Comediva and recommended that I apply. After studying abroad I interned twice for UCLA Athletics. I found the first internship by researching who was editing the videos on the UCLA website and contacting the editor directly, attaching my reel. I’ve been proactive.

“UCLA’s Communications Department is really good about sending students internship opportunities, and I think a lot of companies reach out to UCLA directly. The second UCLA Athletics internship came through the listserv of opportunities that students can subscribe to.

“I also interned for a show called ‘NHL Revealed’ on NBC, which was also sent through UCLA’s listserv. The job with PAC12 Networks also came through my supervisor at UCLA Athletics, and then through PAC12 I was connected with the Anaheim Ducks who I work for now.” You mentioned ROP earlier, what role did the Dublin High School ROP program play in preparing you for college?

Hong: “I completed ROP Multimedia in my junior and senior years at Dublin High. My teachers at the time were Brett Shapiro and Mitch Eason, and Brett helped me secure my first internship at a Livermore dance studio, which gave me a ton of experience in editing and storytelling. At Comediva, which was a very small company when I joined, there wasn’t any training. I was handed a script and footage, and left to edit the video, because they knew I could do it already. ROP was invaluable for teaching me industry-grade software and workflow.

“While with the Anaheim Ducks I worked as a replay operator on the JumboTron during games, and as a result met the editing staff. I was asked by one of the editors where I learned to edit and I mentioned the ROP program; the editor mentioned that he’d also learned through ROP and that 20 minute conversation led to part-time editing job in addition to my replay operator responsibilities.

“Meeting people and being proactive, and putting myself out there, has really helped.” You mentioned that you are considering between a couple of offers. What has the process been like, completing your senior year and looking for a full-time job after college?

UCLA Graduation with Family

UCLA Graduation with Family

Hong: “It’s involved a lot of crying, and a lot of panicking. I received both offers that I’m considering now on the day of my graduation. For six months prior to that I was panicking about what I was going to do after graduation!

“Somehow for me things have always worked out. During my time abroad in Lyon, France I was panicked about landing an internship when I got back, and then the first week I was back I heard from UCLA Athletics.

“A piece of advice I’ve heard from multiple sources is that you have to be scrappy, and you have to work hard, put your name out there. You can’t just sit back and expect things to happen.

“At PAC12 when I started I was just a runner, getting coffee, organizing the food table, but once I was on the truck I would shadow the EVS operators – the replay operators, and tell everyone ‘I’m learning EVS, I want to do EVS.’ One of the EVS operators invited me to shadow him at an Anaheim Ducks game, and as a result I met a supervisor who needed more people and I landed a job.

“My mom always told me ‘if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.’ I’ve always tried to make my goals known to others because people can’t help you unless they know what you want. Asking for help, making your intentions known.” Very cool – drill down a bit on how EVS operators manage to queue up replays so quickly during a game.

EVS Console

EVS Console

Hong: “EVS operators – who are nicknamed Elvis – use a system with a wheel to quickly scrub back in forth in time, and a lever to adjust playback speed. During a game, for example just after a goal’s been scored, I use the wheel to backup and the lever to control the playback speed so that if asked for a replay I’m ready to go. We’re connected to the director who may ask, in a hockey game, ‘did anyone get that hit?’. Usually there are two EVS operators, each monitoring 2-4 cameras. Being an EVS operator is stressful – what you are doing is completely live – and really fun. The job gets your adrenaline pumping!” You’ve completed high school, college and are considering job opportunities. What advice do you have for students in high school that are stressed out worrying about their future?

Hong: “That was me in high school! I remember my last semester of senior year was really difficult. I was taking three AP classes, ran cross country, played lacrosse, was doing a lot of work for Dublin High multimedia, was interning at the dance studio in Livermore and was pretty burned out. I almost reached the point where I didn’t want to apply to college, but I’m so grateful that I applied to UCLA. I wouldn’t want any other student who has worked so hard to feel like I did in my senior year. That said, working as hard as I did gave me the opportunity to go to UCLA where I’ve been very, very happy.

“A lot of people told us in high school to work hard so that when the time comes to apply to college you’ll have your options, and that is really true. What made a difference for me is doing a lot of things that I enjoyed – playing lacrosse, doing video editing – and doing those things kept me sane during high school while I was working hard academically. These days it is important to be well-rounded, to be doing a lot of things, so to make that more bearable make sure you love everything that you’re doing, and make sure you want to do the things you’re doing.”

UPDATE 2-2-2015:

Since this interview was published Deanna chose the flexibility of freelance work in video production, despite the inherent uncertainty in part-time work. Deanna still works for the Pac-12 Network on a regular basis (2-3 days a week), is an EVS operator for the Anaheim Ducks 3-4 times a month, works at UCLA Athletics as a videographer and the UCLA Gymnastics team as their team videographer and was even able to work as a behind-the-scenes videographer for a feature-length film called “Full Out”, including a trip to Toronto for production work, an opportunity made possible by a freelance schedule.

Deanna Hong UCLA Graduation with Friends

Deanna Hong UCLA Graduation with Friends

Prekistolen Norway

Prekistolen Norway