Event Title

Interns on Television: How Pop Culture Shapes Our Understanding

Presenter Information

Jordan Mitchell

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

College

College of Art & Letters

Major

Communication Studies

Session Number

3

Location

RM 215

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Thomas Corrigan

Juror Names

Moderator: Dr. Todd Johnson

Start Date

5-18-2017 4:30 PM

End Date

5-18-2017 4:50 PM

Abstract

It is increasingly expected that aspiring professionals complete internships before entering their careers. However, the nature and purpose of internships is ambiguous and ill defined. Where have we, as a society, developed our understanding of internships? Surely popular culture plays a role. Many popular U.S. television shows unfold in an office environment. Whether office comedy or drama, these shows often depict an office intern, typically a young professional pursuing knowledge and experience to further his or her career opportunities. Using thematic textual analysis – a qualitative approach – this study examines the portrayal of intern characters on eight prime-time, U.S. network television shows to determine what audience members may learn about internships from those programs. Those shows include Seinfeld, Parks & Rec, Friends, The West Wing, Gossip Girl, Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights, and The Office. Each researcher independently watched the episodes in which interns appeared, took detailed screening notes, and systematically coded the episode. Analysis of those data is ongoing; however, several themes have been identified, including interns’ competency levels, their work ethic and attitude, and expectations about compensation (or lack thereof). The researchers argue that these themes both reflect and shape society’s assumptions about internships

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May 18th, 4:30 PM May 18th, 4:50 PM

Interns on Television: How Pop Culture Shapes Our Understanding

RM 215

It is increasingly expected that aspiring professionals complete internships before entering their careers. However, the nature and purpose of internships is ambiguous and ill defined. Where have we, as a society, developed our understanding of internships? Surely popular culture plays a role. Many popular U.S. television shows unfold in an office environment. Whether office comedy or drama, these shows often depict an office intern, typically a young professional pursuing knowledge and experience to further his or her career opportunities. Using thematic textual analysis – a qualitative approach – this study examines the portrayal of intern characters on eight prime-time, U.S. network television shows to determine what audience members may learn about internships from those programs. Those shows include Seinfeld, Parks & Rec, Friends, The West Wing, Gossip Girl, Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights, and The Office. Each researcher independently watched the episodes in which interns appeared, took detailed screening notes, and systematically coded the episode. Analysis of those data is ongoing; however, several themes have been identified, including interns’ competency levels, their work ethic and attitude, and expectations about compensation (or lack thereof). The researchers argue that these themes both reflect and shape society’s assumptions about internships