NYU Students and Faculty Adjusting to New LA Program

One year after WSN broke the news that NYU would have a study away site in Los Angeles — we followed up with students and faculty to see how the West Coast was treating them.

LA county’s Santa Monica beach and iconic pier. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)

Around 30 students went from the hustle and bustle of New York City life to California time this fall for the inaugural semester of NYU’s new study away program in Los Angeles.

Made up of student dormitories, classrooms and an academic hub, the LA site — which is totally not a campus, according to university officials — particularly encourages students to pursue internships while in the city that serves as a hub for the U.S. film, television and music industries. 

Recently, it was announced that author and filmmaker Nina Sadowsky would serve as the first director of NYU LA. The program offers 11 courses from the Tisch School of the Arts, Stern School of Business, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the College of Arts and Science. According to Sadowsky, the program is targeting juniors and seniors looking for careers in the entertainment and music industries. In addition to classes, every student is required to have an internship.

“The goal of the LA program, first and foremost, is to offer high quality courses taught by experts in their fields, as well as internship opportunities geared to help these emerging young professionals find their paths,” Sadowsky wrote in an email to WSN.

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Steinhardt senior Juliana Isabelle Galarza, who is studying in LA this semester, finds the scope of the program limiting. Galarza said that, as a marketing student, she found it difficult to find classes to her liking.

“I thought that the classes were a little too much geared toward either film or TV,” Galarza said. “It was hard for me to find a lot of classes that were exactly what I wanted to do, so I wish they offered a little bit more broader classes than such niche courses.”

Ph.D. student and Adjunct Professor in the Media, Culture, and Communications department Harris Kornstein disagrees.

“On the one hand [media and entertainment] feels so specific, but on the other hand there’s so many different components that add up to the media and entertainment environment, so I do think there’s a lot of room for students to explore different interests,” Kornstein said. “[The program] is specific enough that it gives it a sense of cohesion without dictating what people do inside it.”

Another aspect of the program Sadowsky emphasized was the incorporation of the nearly 14,000 NYU alumni based in LA.

“[Alumni] have long wanted an NYU LA presence and have stepped up to support the program,” Sadowsky wrote. “An additional goal is to further enhance the already strong sense of community forged by alumni in the Los Angeles area, and in doing so, further cement NYU’s position as a leader in interdisciplinary global education.”

Galarza said she feels a sense of responsibility to be proactive in using the opportunities provided by NYU and that networking events set up by the university have been helpful.

“[NYU] will give you the resources, but you really have to take action and take responsibility to put yourself out there, meet new people, and network to find different opportunities,” Galarza said. “But [NYU] definitely made it so easy setting up all of these internship opportunities and meet and greets, and all of the professors here are so connected.”

NYU LA Professor and President of Goldenring Productions Jane Goldenring is teaching a course in Script Analysis this semester. Goldenring said she felt that students interested in the entertainment industry should take advantage of the program.

“It’s an important part of understanding the business and your part in it to come out here and get a sense of what it’s like to work at what is the heart and soul of the movie, TV and streaming industry,” Goldenring said. “Because if you want to move out here from New York, it’s a different culture and it’s a different mindset and it’s a different lifestyle, so why not get a sense of it before you make that big commitment?”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, September 23, 2019 print edition. Email Ronni Husmann at [email protected]

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