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An Animated Summer: My Internship with the Florida Animation Festival

Summer Internship 2021-MCustis-100521

The Summer Internship Stipend application deadline has been extended to Monday, May 16, 2022, 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT). Read on to learn about Molly Custis’s experience as an Internship Stipend recipient.

Growing up, like most kids, I loved movies. Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and more were constant features in my household. Animated movies in particular were always something that had a hold on me, I was always rewatching, reenacting, and getting lost in their worlds. Friday nights you could find me and my dad, regulars at our local Blockbuster, debating which movie we would rent. Nine times out of ten it was one I had already seen and could practically quote. And while my parents would grumble about having to watch Shrek 2 or Beauty and the Beast for the tenth time, we always did, because they knew how much I loved them. Over the years, animation became a source of comfort, joy, and hope for me, and my love for it grew into an appreciation of the art itself and the absolute marvel that goes into creating animated films.

Molly Custis standing infront of a projector displaying Florida Animation Festival logo

In the past few years, when deciding where I wanted my career and future to lead, it became clear to me that it needed to head in that direction. My interest in marketing, writing, and communications meant that my skills were transferable to nearly any industry, and it was up to me to decide what I wanted to pursue. I was ready to apply my educational background and personal encyclopedic knowledge of animated films in a capacity that would allow me to learn about the industry and work with others who create, market, and enjoy animation. In spring 2021, I connected with my now internship supervisor Kristin Peterson after I saw a job listing for a marketing/communications/all-around-social media intern for the Florida Animation Festival, based right in my backyard, Tallahassee, FL. For me, this internship was exactly what I was looking for; marketing experience working with animators from around the world, the opportunity to work closely with a team experienced in putting on a global festival, and hands on experience in an industry I wanted to dive into. The only caveat was that it was unpaid.

Immediately, I applied for the internship and was offered it for class credit, which I was able to accept in conjunction with my other paid job. During the spring semester I worked closely with the festival chairs and gained experience communicating with professionals across the industry, creating relevant social content, writing press releases, and designing graphics for a global festival that would take place in June. When the semester ended, the festival was still three months away and they invited me to stay on for the summer. While it would only require me to work 15 hours a week, it would again be unpaid, and unfortunately, due to my financial circumstances and the continued pandemic, I knew I needed to supplement that income to be able to stay in a position I found so rewarding.

The Sigma Tau Delta Internship Stipend meant the world to me because it meant I did not have to give up a position I loved and learned so much from to get a paying job. It allowed me to see the festival through completely, from conception to execution, something not many interns are able to do since the festival falls in the summer. Unpaid internships with non-profits can be so rewarding, especially when you work with a company or group that is doing work that is personally meaningful to you. But the bottom line is that students cannot often sacrifice income to work for them, same as they cannot sacrifice income to pay us. As a student who typically depends upon her summer income to cover the cost of living and fall tuition, Sigma Tau Delta’s assistance helped reduce my financial burden for the summer and coming fall. The Internship stipend made it possible for me to really dive into the world of animation with my internship in a time when the world turned away from reality and was looking for an escape—a time when movies and animation became more important than ever.

To me, the beauty of animation is how strongly it affects us, how much the characters and lessons they share shape us, and the lasting impact it can have. I feel similarly about this internship and this opportunity. What I have learned through my time at the Florida Animation Festival has shaped my goals and expectations for the future and further cemented my love for animation, and I have Sigma Tau Delta to thank for making that opportunity a reality.

MCustis-headMolly Custis
Summer Internship Stipend Recipient, 2021
Rho Epsilon Chapter
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL


Internship Stipend

Sigma Tau Delta offers funding for current undergraduate and graduate student members accepting non- or low-paying internships. The Internship Stipend is a competitive program providing a limited number of stipends of up to $1,500 each.

The internship must involve working for an “organization” while being directed by a supervisor/mentor within that organization, and the intern’s duties must be consistent with the applicant’s level of education, area of study, and career goals. Financial need will be taken into consideration in addition to internship length. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Check out BestColleges’ Ultimate Guide to Internships for advice in finding and applying for internships. Please review the application guidelines for additional information.

The internship stipend does not apply to activities that are part of a student’s degree requirements, such as student teaching, and cannot be used to supplement a graduate assistantship.

Applications will be accepted through Monday, May 16, 2022, 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT). Notifications will be made by June 3. Questions regarding the online submission process should be addressed to [email protected].

Past Internship Stipend Recipients

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The Cost of an Unpaid Internship
How a Sigma Tau Delta Internship Stipend Allowed me to Pursue a Great Opportunity
The Price of an Unpaid Internship
An English Major in a Neuroscience Lab
To Be the Practical or the Spark; That is the Question
Understanding the Power of the Storyteller and the Story
My Internship at the LARB Publishing Workshop
An English Major on Capitol Hill
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McIntosh & Otis Internship: Preparation for a Dream Career
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