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  • Student interns for Ellen DeGeneres Show
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  • Student interns for Ellen DeGeneres Show

    Real world experience brings opportunity

    Brian Ashburn exudes energy. His enthusiasm and dedication have paved the way for success, and he’s had experiences beyond his years.

    Ashburn, a junior at Minnesota State University Moorhead majoring in film studies and mass communications, spent the fall semester living in Los Angeles while interning for the Ellen DeGeneres Show. A life-changing experience that gave him insight into the behind-the-scenes world of television.

    Ashburn's journey to his internship began when he transferred from the University of Minnesota to major in film studies at MSUM. His hands-on experiences in the MSUM film studies department and work on student films gave him an edge when looking for internships.

    “It’s one thing to read out of a book, but it’s another to be on set and run things,” Ashburn said. “For student films everyone wants to learn, so you try everything. Sometimes it makes you learn the hard way.”

    Coming from a larger school, Ashburn appreciates the relationships he’s built at MSUM and “the camaraderie between the students and the faculty.”

    Last summer Ashburn had another star-studded internship in New Orleans working on the set of Quentin Tarantino’s film “Django Unchained.” He was given tasks from mailings to helping with production, and even met some of the cast.

    “One of the things that got me the internship they said was my film production experience at MSUM. It’s so well rounded so I get a lot of experience with lighting and cameras and all that. That experience made me a unique contender,” Ashburn said.

    During his internship, Ashburn received more real-world experience.

    “One thing I really learned from my internship in New Orleans is you need to meet people and make connections because those are the people that know you, know your experience,” Ashburn said.

    On campus, Ashburn has made many connections. He’s been a Student Orientation Counselor (SOC), Dragon Ambassador, publications coordinator of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), and participant in the 48-hour film challenge.

    Ashburn continued to make connections and build his professional experience while interning for the Ellen DeGeneres Show. He spent his internship rotating through the various departments, working with the audience, celebrities and researching human-interest stories. From social media to production, Ashburn feels his mass communications and film studies degrees provide him with a solid foundation.

    “I like mass communications because I like writing. It’s writing for professional reasons not just an essay. It’s honing your skills to be applicable when you graduate,” he said.

    Ashburn will return to campus for spring semester.

    “All of my professors are really excited for me. It’s cool that they’re really supportive. They’re very accommodating and they’ve been working with me to coordinate my internship credits and get everything set up,” Ashburn said.

    Ashburn also worked for WDAY, received the Honors Apprenticeship Scholarship and blogs for Intern Queen, an online program that connects students to internships.

    “I tell prospective students if they want real world experience they should come to MSUM,” Ashburn said. “My student films and communications work in the admissions office are the types of things people really look for.”