Showcasing Industry Success Stories and the Importance of Internships


(L–R) Melissa Suzuno, Nathan Parcells, David Pham, Candice Naranjo and Juliua Fraser. Photo by Jackie Rutan.

The benefits of internships, both paid and for credit, was the topic of a lively discussion, hosted by Academy of Art University’s School of Multimedia Communications on Thursday, Nov. 13 at the 79 New Montgomery Theater. The panel, which featured both industry influencers and Academy alumni, was led by Director of the School of Multimedia Communications Jan Yanehiro.


The panelists included: Melissa Suzuno, the content marketing manager for AfterCollege, a career network for college students and recent graduates; Nathan Parcells, the CEO of Intern Match, a site that matches student skills with available employment listings; David Pham, a designer at Facebook; KRON-TV Web Producer Candice Naranjo; and Juliua Fraser, who is a show producer and board operator for Alice@97.3.

Throughout the evening, the panelists shared key advice on how to achieve post-graduation success.

“It’s important to remember that your willingness to be part of a team, at a real company, goes a long way in preparing for your life, post-graduation,” Suzuno said. “Networks like ours give you the opportunity to take a look in your mirror, assess what you love to do and then make the preparations necessary to go get that position.”



Candice Naranjo. Photo by Jackie Rutan.


Nathan Parcells and Sophie Gallegos. Photo by Jackie Rutan.

Parcells agreed. “It depends [on] what you want from the experience. And unpaid internship rarely leads to an offer of full-time employment. But the credit you earn makes it a great ‘classroom’ to challenge yourself and test drive your future. Not all internships are going to be a magical experience—that’s not how it works. It gives you a chance to try something, with low stakes, to see if it’s a good fit for your future.”

Naranjo, who graduated from the Academy in 2012 with her Master’s in multimedia communications, shared that she worked at several “little jobs” before landing her current position as a web producer at KRON-TV in San Francisco.

“I wanted to see what was out there, to get a feel for how my skills would fit in the marketplace,” Naranjo said. “Internships give you a chance to not only know what you like doing—they also help you narrow your list [of] things you don’t.”

Fraser, who earned her BA in multimedia communications from the Academy in 2013, spent a lot of time in Room 100 of 79 New Montgomery, which is the home of She hosted and produced several shows for the station before accepting an internship with Alice@97.3 in San Francisco.

“I love this business,” Fraser told the audience. “I knew what I wanted to do. I used my internship to show them I could be part of the team.”

It worked. Fraser currently has a part-time position with the station.

Facebook’s Pham, who graduated from the Academy with his Master’s in advertising, recounted his journey that resulted in a job at the world’s biggest social network. He shared with the room that the goal is to experience as much as they can, pre-graduation, to create a list of possibilities. Pham echoed the sentiments of others on the panel by urging students to network with their instructors, fellow students and with new friends in the business to create a strong group of support.

“This was so great,” said Academy student Diana Liu, who attended the panel. “I really got a lot out of it. I think the best attitude to have during an internship is to give it all you have. These are great opportunities, so treat your internship like a real paid job, because it can lead to something special in the future.”