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Time to Say Good Bye

CSUF Staffer Has Fond Memories and Great Experiences From Warner Brothers Internship

August 6, 2007

Sheila Faris-Penn, director of web communications for University Advancement, is spending seven weeks as an application developer intern at Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Marketing’s New Media Division, thanks to a Staff Development Award she received this spring.

Inside Online asked Faris-Penn to provide a weekly blog about the experience. This is her final submission.

Week 7

Warner Bros. Museum

50 Years of Warner Bros. Television: The ExhibitOn the Warner Bros. lot there is a museum. I’d been meaning to go the entire summer, but I never quite got around to it. During my last week I figured I’d better go or I wasn’t going to get to see it! So I finally took an early lunch and checked it out. I’m glad I made the time to go.

When you first get there, you’re greeted by a friendly security guard. He tells you that you can stash your belongings in the lockers to the right, and that you can’t touch or take pictures of anything. Sigh. Of course taking pictures and touching stuff was all I wanted to do, but I was good.

The museum has two floors. The first floor has props, scripts, memos, videos and mannequins with the costumes from various characters from 50 years of television and a couple of movies (mostly costumes). I saw costumes from the new “Nancy Drew” movie (she’s tiny!) and from “The 300,” (which looked like they would ALMOST cover the actors), as well a TV shows as disparate as “Babylon 5,” “Family Matters” (think Steve Urkel), “Dukes of Hazzard,” and “Murphy Brown.” (I REALLY wanted to touch those costumes.) It was fun to remember the shows. The second floor is devoted to the Harry Potter films. Very cool. I was amazed to see how intricate the costumes were, and how small some of the actors must be. And the props from the movies were fun to see up close.

Finally Some Style

This was the week that the design (CSS or ‘cascading style sheets’) came from the site designer. We’d been working on the programming independent of what the site would look like. (“We’re just putting up the walls; we’ll hang the pictures later.”) This was very different from any other website I’d worked on before – I’m used to working on how things look (by myself) during the whole process. What a luxury to allow someone else to do it for me! I just had to make sure that what I’d programmed worked with the design.

Needing More Time

There was so much more I wanted to finish. My instructor said I got about 80 percent of the project finished and he was very pleased. It’s not set to go live until mid-September, and he was able to work on all his other projects while I got so much done on this one mostly by myself (with some important help). I did accomplish most of what we’d wanted, and the “hard stuff” was finished.

On the last day we made sure that at least one set of pages, from home page through to the final asset detail page, worked. Then we talked about a couple of things I had wanted to make sure I’d learned. Then we were done. I was given CDs with all the code, database, wireframes, CSS, images and the “Spec” document so that I would have something to reference when I try to do something like this at CSUF. And we made plans for me to take a vacation day in September to visit them on the day that it does go live.

Then it was over.

Saying Goodbye

This was a great experience. I was allowed to apprentice myself to someone who knows a lot and also is a great teacher. I feel that if I’d been allowed to stay for six months I’d still be learning stuff on my last day. I also had the luxury of working on only one project, and planning well for it, rather than having so many irons in the fire all at the same time. I’ll miss that. And having an entire department of seriously creative people who pretty much work on web stuff and understand what you’re saying when you talk about what you’re doing was very nice indeed.

Plus working at Warner Bros. was just plain fun. As an example, one day during my last week someone came to my office and said, “Vanilla, chocolate or strawberry?” I said, “Yes. What are we talking about?” She handed me a very small container of Häagen-Dazs ice cream and went to the next office where she repeated, “Vanilla, chocolate or strawberry?” That really doesn’t happen at CSUF. I’ll miss that too.

Framed, Signed 'Iron Giant' posterI was surprised when the vice president of New Media came to me and said goodbye. He handed me a Warner Bros. backpack filled with Warner Bros. stuff for my kids (two DVDs, a stuffed Sylvester the cat, a "Batman" helicopter toy, notebook paper from “Willy Wonka,” etc.). He said that this had worked well and he thought I’d done a good job. And he also said that if I ever wanted to move to Burbank I should give him a call. Sweet!

I had asked early in the internship whether someone could help me find a poster of “The Iron Giant” (a seriously under-rated WB animated movie that my kids and I LOVE). On my last day at Warner Bros. I received a framed poster of “The Iron Giant,” SIGNED by Brad Bird (the director, who also directed "Ratatouille" and “The Incredibles”). Wow! I didn’t even care that I had to figure out how to get this home on the train. My sons (age 2 and 3) noticed it immediately and were really excited. It’s now hanging proudly in our dining room.

I’m glad to be back at Cal State Fullerton. Mostly <grin>. But I had a great experience at Warner Bros., and I’m looking forward to using my new skills. Great thanks to the folk who gave me the Staff Development Award!

Week: One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven

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