February 27, 2014 by Amanda Shooster
Sydney Arroyo, a junior photography major, is spending her co-op working for “Saturday Night Live” as a paid photography intern.
As an intern, Arroyo edits, prints and frames photos, as well as sets up and breaks down photo shoot equipment. Her other responsibilities include photographing behind the scenes and running errands for her supervisors, Mary Ellen Matthews and Dana Edelson. According to Arroyo, any task given directly from Matthews takes priority over any other work.
Arroyo claims that the hardest part of working at SNL is the fast pace. At SNL, each week is the start of a new schedule. A mishap in one department affects every other department that is involved. Arroyo has learned to adapt to the fast pace and now embraces the work schedule. Employees work a six-day week and each day of the week is set aside for a specific aspect of the production.
“It is a very artistic environment filled with creative people. Also, when you are surrounded by funny people all day at work, it’s always a good place to be. I have found that everyone working there is very nice and humble, as well as laid back,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo inquired about internships offered at the SNL studio after seeing the photos on an online SNL episode. She was intrigued and determined to find out whom the photographer was. It turns out that Matthews is the main photographer and in charge of the photography department, having worked at SNL for 25 years.
Arroyo asked a professor to help her get in touch with Matthews, but to no avail. Luckily, Arroyo’s stepfather, a previous employee of NBC News, was able to find Matthews’ personal email address, which led to Arroyo’s interview in New York City.
“Working at SNL was definitely my first choice. I have always been an admirer of their photographer, Mary Ellen Matthews’ work, and I was determined to work there. I actually was so determined that I didn’t even have a plan B. I thought to myself, ‘Nope, I’m going to work there and that’s that,’ and I thought that if I made a plan B, I’d jinx myself and somehow ruin my chances, so I didn’t. Luckily, it worked out in my favor,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo was offered the position as a photography intern at the end of her interview. She moved to New York City for the duration of her co-op and was able to rent out a room from a family friend for the six-month period. Arroyo was worried she may have difficulty transitioning from Philadelphia to New York, but says her move went smoothly.
“Philly was a good introduction for me; I was already used to riding trains and having to get around in a city. New York is very different in comparison, but I found myself really enjoying it, maybe even more than I do Philly,” Arroyo said.
When asked about her reaction to Arroyo’s job offer Melanie Kraus, assistant director of cooperative education, said, “I was very happy for Sydney. The position sounded like a great opportunity to improve her photography skills, network with professionals in the field and understand the realities of the workplace. The fact that she would get to work with and meet some really great personalities seemed like it would be exciting as well!”