Name: Katie Franc
Graduation Year: 2019
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
In April of her senior year of college, Katie Franc ’19 jumped on a plane and flew across the country to Los Angeles to pursue her hopeful future in the entertainment business. The trip was a calculated-gamble: she had four job interviews scheduled and twice that number of informational meetings set up. It was an investment in her future. One that would pay off, handsomely.
Franc’s journey to Hollywood wasn’t her first time investing in the future. Roughly four years before boarding that flight to L.A., she decided to attend Syracuse University.
SU wasn’t always Franc’s top choice for college. Actually, it was barely on her radar. On a planned trip to some smaller schools in upstate New York, Franc’s mom suggested adding SU. Franc didn’t realize she would be visiting the place she would spend the next four years.
“Syracuse definitely snuck up on me,” she added.
After visiting SU’s campus, Franc ended up applying, getting accepted and committing to the dual program between the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. By tapping into both the Whitman and Newhouse communities, Franc was able to explore her diverse interests. She found that her head for business could be infused with her passion for the entertainment industry.
“Whitman prepares you to be such a professional person,” she said. “And Newhouse added to my niche interests like entertainment.”
Using her professional skills, Franc started building her network early. She joined Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity where she met Tom Kalaj.
Kalaj, a fellow Whitman-Newhouse dual, told Franc about an amazing internship he did at NBCUniversal in New York City. Franc, who was in her first year of college at the time, was interested but knew NBC wouldn’t hire a freshman.
But, she was committed to breaking into the entertainment business. Franc kept in touch with Kalaj and worked with him during her sophomore year to position herself for the internship. Thanks to Kalaj’s guidance and Franc’s passion and persistence, she landed her first of three internships with NBCUniversal for the summer after her sophomore year.
The experience at NBC solidified Franc’s interest in the business side of entertainment. During the spring of her junior year, Franc participated in Syracuse University Los Angeles, a semester-long immersion in the entertainment capital of the world. While in L.A., she completed another internship with NBCUniversal focused on developing new TV show ideas for Wilshire Studios.
“It was the first time I ever got to be creative in the real world which I loved,” Franc said.
For her third and final internship with NBC, Franc extended her stay in L.A. for the summer after her junior year to join Universal Pictures as a brand marketing intern. Franc’s team worked on marketing projects with budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars for major franchise films grossing billions of dollars worldwide.
Part of Franc’s reason for venturing to L.A. mid-semester was to interview for a full-time job with her old department at Universal Pictures. The interview took place at 9 in the morning and on the same day after she left, Franc received an email to come back to the office at 5 p.m. She was extended a full-time job offer to work with her old team as a brand marketing assistant after graduation. Relieved because her impromptu trip to L.A. paid off, Franc accepted the job.
In every industry, your network is everything. That’s especially true in entertainment, Franc pointed out. That’s why she started networking early with everyone from seasoned entertainment professionals to fellow classmates.
“Your horizontal network is going to be way more valuable than your vertical one,” Franc said.
Franc said her first internship with NBC was pivotal because the company typically only hires past interns for futures positions. Her horizontal network helped her get it.
“I give everything that I’ve gotten to that first internship,” she added.