Category: GEMA, GEMA Externship

Title:My Externship Story: Matthew McMahon (SFS‘96, MBA‘04)

What was my extern experience like in general?

My externship focused primarily on informational meetings with business development and marketing executives at television studios, networks, and channels, along with other crossover & new media ventures.

My meetings during the externship led directly to a summer internship at Fox Cable Networks, working on the launch of a new channel called Fuel. I spent the summer in programming and marketing for Fuel, a 24/7 action-sports and music channel. The internship at Fuel, in turn, led to an internship for the school year at the National Geographic Channel in Washington, D.C.

How has the GEMA extern experience helped me shape my future goals?

Thanks to the externship, and the resulting internships, I have learned that I want to be in the television business. I think TV is an area of media that is most open to new technologies to deliver and market content—i.e., that television shows are now reaching consumers in ways well beyond traditional broadcast channels. I think this intersection of compelling entertainment content with multiple delivery means is an extremely dynamic area to work in.

What would I most want applicants to know about the GEMA extern program?

Below, I’ve tried to condense the main advice I’d offer:

Tips to Surviving—and Maximizing—the GEMA Externship Experience
1) Be serious. The externship provides unique “inside” access to the people and players in The Industry. This access—and the potential networking contacts that can grow from it—is highly valuable and is a priceless first step toward a great career. The externship isn’t an excuse to go to Los Angeles, to party, and see friends. It’s a business trip and should be approached that way; be punctual to meetings, be dressed appropriately, be serious.

2) Know who’s who, and what’s what. Do your homework before embarking on the externship. Be knowledgeable of major trends, companies, and personalities in The Industry. Go to Lauinger Library and find their copies of Variety, MediaWeek, and other titles. Read the Wall Street Journal. Check out Each person you’ll meet during the externship will be well versed in this type of information, and you need to be able to “speak the language.”

3) Play “the game” in meetings. These meetings aren’t formal job interviews—and the people you’re meeting with don’t want a hard sell about job openings. Impress them with your enthusiasm for and knowledge about the industry. People will be willing to help, as connections and conversations are currency in The Industry, but nobody wants to spend their valuable time reviewing your résumé. If a meeting goes well, ask to be able to follow up with more information.

4) Get a good map. The externship not only offers unique access, but it also offers an authentic experience of doing business in Los Angeles—driving to meetings far across town! Among studios in the Valley, offices in Hollywood, and funky bungalows in Santa Monica, you’ll be traveling all over LA, on a tight schedule. Make sure of where you’re going in order to be punctual and professional. Scout locations, ask friends, get GPS in your rental car—whatever it takes to navigate!

5) Realize it’s an investment in your future. The externship might seem like a financial stretch. A week in Los Angeles isn’t cheap; a hotel room, a rental car, meals out in restaurants—these expenses add up. However, the externship experience really is priceless. Be creative and figure out ways to cut costs as needed. Lean on friends or family in LA. Look for Internet deals. Talk to GEMA, as Georgetown alumni might be willing to host you. Make it work, as the opportunity is too good to pass up.

If you would like to contact Matt to learn more about his experience, he can be reached at