Category: GEMA, GEMA Externship

Title:GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now? – Aliza Reder (L’04), Academy of Motion Picture Arts Sciences

GEMA launched its annual Externship Program in 2003, a unique experience where Georgetown seniors and graduate students spend one week in Los Angeles or New York during spring break meeting with a number of alumni from a variety of fields in entertainment and media. Over 200 students and more than 500 alumni have participated in the program over its first 18 years and many of the externs have gone on to roles across the media landscape. In our series The GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now?, we reconnect with past Externs to find out how their careers have progressed since graduation.

Aliza Reder (L’04), Senior Counsel at Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

In this month’s installment, we catch up with Aliza Reder, Senior Counsel at Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Before joining the AMPAS, Aliza worked at Fandango and NBC Universal in the Business and Legal Affairs divisions.

What was your experience like attending Georgetown?
I went to Georgetown Law, and I did the GEMA externship, which was really great because I think when you’re there, entertainment and media aren’t always the focus. I also did the federal legislation clinic, which was amazing and perfect for DC. It was incredible. I think you serve yourself well by trying all the Georgetown-specific offerings that you can’t get in other schools, but as well, kind of seeing what the school has to offer in the areas like entertainment and music and media.

Were there any particularly formative experiences that were special to you?

Law school is formative in itself, right? It’s very, very hard. But you survive, and you survive well, so that was good. But I also think that keeping your head out of the daily grind of studying and being in graduate school and focusing on the long term picture — which was really nice with these externships because they really kind of pushed you out there in the world. That gives you a lot of exposure that you don’t get from studying in the library. So I would say that was really key and not only key but extremely helpful.

What was the externship experience like for you? Did it have an influence on your career?
We met with a variety of people all around LA, and really ran the gamut of positions in the entertainment industry. Even with law, I didn’t know much about what people did other than working in a law firm. It really opened my eyes even down to working in production, writing, Business Affairs, Legal Affairs. I think when you’re in school, you are kind of in an ivory tower, and you learn a lot in general, but nothing compares to really getting into it. I think it’s something that going to class will not get you and this externship opens your eyes up to the industry, and what avenues could be available, aside from what’s obvious to you in whatever major you’re in, or whatever graduate school you’re in.

I haven’t found other things like that. Not only was it a great, eye-opening process, but I think the people that did it were extremely helpful. Being back in the work world, people don’t have time and when you’re a student you forget that. Everyone who sat down with us took so much time. Looking back on it now, I am extremely appreciative. It was really twofold — it really exposed our eyes to new things, but it’s also a very unique community. It’s something that I’m grateful for and need to remind current students to really take advantage of because it’s a special experience.

What’s your advice for an undergraduate trying to break into your industry?

I would say, to do well, you need to work hard, and be ready to start from the bottom up. That may not happen, you may be lucky, but chances are it’ll be the bottom up and you need to be ready to work, but also take experiences like the externship, even if it’s for just a week. You’re going to need to know, to make it to the top, how the sausage factory works, right? You want to do whatever you can to get as many experiences as you can until you’re ready to focus.

You don’t want to be so scattered that nothing ever gels together. But I think doing an externship like this, which is generally focused but has a lot of different little nuances once you’re in it, is key. And if it’s not this type of an externship do something else, do something where maybe during the summer, you can take three different internships at different times and don’t get set into anything quite yet, because trust me, things change quickly. And the more experience you have under your belt, as your career grows, the better off you are.

It may turn you off of things, it may turn you on to things. The more experiences you have, the more focused you get. So it’s almost like you start off with a very, very wide funnel and then you start narrowing it down as you progress. That’s the goal at least.

Is there anything you would tell your younger self now?
Be open to experiences. By experiences I don’t mean just jobs — I mean meeting new people, keeping contacts. In your 20s and early 30s, give yourself the freedom to try things because things get harder as you get older — you have a mortgage, you have kids, you have different focuses. And they’re not all about you. And so when you have the chance to focus on you and your career only do it, and do that by getting out there, again, meeting people trying experiences, disregarding the ones that you don’t like, pursuing the things that you do, like, it’s kind of basic, but you don’t realize it until afterwards.

Talk to people. The next day at work, maybe go out to lunch with somebody else. Sometimes you just want to go home and watch TV or go get a drink. But you just push yourself. You don’t have to do it all the time, because let’s be honest, we’re human. But just remember that it’ll, it’ll benefit you in the long run.

What was your first “big break” into your industry? Or, what is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?

Right after law school, I went to go work for a law firm that was incredible. I don’t think I would have found it, but for I had started working on a reality show, and it got canceled on the eve of production. The law firm that was connected to it at the time was out here in LA. At Georgetown, you’re much more focused on the East Coast law firms in general, and they were a newer law firm at the time, and I hadn’t heard too much about them. But I heard about them from the show, and thankfully, it was a very cool law firm, they didn’t do things the way things had always been done. That’s kind of their niche. And they’ve been extremely successful. They hired me, basically, in the fall, which is usually this whole, long process and whatnot. And it turned out to be the best offer experience I could ever possibly imagine.

I think it was the best education, frankly, that I got. Law School — you need to go through it. And you learn so much, and it changes your way of thinking in general. I think from that I’ve been able to move within the field through connections basically, related to the firm. Then more doors opened up along the way. To this day, I’m working with people that I met when I was in the firm. It’s super formative. But you know, again, you have to put in your time, a lot of hard work.

What do you do in your job now?

I’m in-House Counsel. It runs the gamut in in-House Counsel… there’s intellectual property enforcement, there’s litigation, there’s general infrastructure agreements and contracts that need to be worked on. There’s things related to various productions that we’re working on. Social media, advertising, marketing. So we do kind of the legal side of all of that, and the business negotiation for much of it.

What is your favorite part of your current position?

I think my favorite part is actually the company and the people that I work with, they’re extremely nice. They are very conscientious and very on the forefront of change, which I like too. They have a lot of pride and love for their industry, which is really nice to see. It just makes you feel like you have a goal and do your work with respect and it’s nice.

I’ve always believed, and I still believe, even if it’s the worst possible job, if you love the people that you’re doing it with, you can laugh and get through it. But I found a job that combines both, and it’s great. For me too, it’s important to have a job that understands working moms, and this job does. You’ll see as time goes on, your interests change, so when you find the job that accommodates that, it’s huge. You need to give yourself the freedom to realize when that happens, and that you need to course correct if you’re in a place that doesn’t work for you.