A website listing film, TV and other media internships might not seem like such a big deal at first glance, but most such sites don’t have the backing of an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning producer and a business plan originated by an intern.
Mark Gordon co-founded recruitment site Intern Sushi — along with ad exec Richard Gelb and Shara Senderoff, the site’s CEO. Gordon had hired Senderoff in 2007 as his assistant, fresh off having been an intern herself. In 2010, after several promotions, she became his director of film development and veep of interactive and new media.
Senderoff first wrote her rough business plan for the site five years ago as a student at Emerson College. Two years ago, she presented the idea to Gordon, and before long, it was only a matter of hiring developers to implement her vision.
“With the country’s economic challenges, the entertainment industry was increasingly relying on interns in a more significant way,” says Gordon, who also serves on the site’s advisory board. “I jumped right in to help her.”
Soft-launched in November, the site offers a tech-savvy solution to the challenges of getting started in showbiz. With a name inspired by the pickiness and presentation that preparing sushi requires, the site already has Paramount, Warner Music Group, DreamWorks Animation and Lionsgate onboard. It covers 15 cities and 11 industries: film, TV, sports, music, fashion, advertising/PR, Web, tech, publishing, theater and art.
Intern Sushi’s constituency includes more than 1,000 companies (though not all of them list jobs) and 7,000 prospective interns. It boasts 1,900 positions to fill.
The site charges nothing to upload a single, standard video to create a multimedia profile. Members can send up to 10 applications per semester. But those who opt to pay either $8.99 a month, or $79.99 a year, get unlimited access, a 48-hour headstart on applying and the ability to make company-specific vids.
Senderoff points out that in a down economy in which so many college students and would-be pros are applying for jobs, Intern Sushi can help them stand out from the clutter. The site can also make it easier for companies to sort through multiple candidates, says Senderoff, rendering paper resumes obsolete.
In addition to its recruitment functionality, Intern Sushi features original content designed to help both interns and companies. Currently, firms looking for interns can register and post positions for free. The site’s main source of revenue comes from the subscription fees paid by the premium job applicants, though it plans to institute an ad model and offer, for a fee, a chance for companies to improve the visibility of their listing.
Since the soft launch just four months ago, the site has facilitated 38 hires, per Senderoff.
“A lot of interns are beginning to send applications, and companies are starting to post position listings for the summer,” she says. “What we’ll start to see in March, April and May is companies really starting to engage, interview and hire.”