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Alumni Spotlight: Jake Zaslav ’16

September 10, 2018 / Catherine Nicholas / Blog

This summer, Jake Zaslav (’16) got to work on a shoot with Alison Brie and stand in for Josh Grobin. That was in between grocery shopping, stocking fridges, and going on runs to the Apple store, but that’s all part of working in television production, as he did as an intern for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

“My skills have always been in organizing things and managing projects.  I learned that at Maggie Walker, especially through Music Orchard,” Jake says.  In high school, Jake founded Music Orchard, a club that paired Maggie Walker musicians with elementary school students, to whom they gave free, individualized music lessons.  “I was also interested in television. I’ve always loved tv and watch a lot of it. Production seemed to combine those interests, so I thought I would try to go into that.”

When Jake was looking for internships for the summer of 2018, he sent in his resume to The Late Show, and they responded by inviting him to start the interview process.  “I was shocked,” he said. “I thought I was just asking how I could even apply!”  For advice about the interview process, he contacted another MLWGS grad, Harvey Creasey (’14), who interned for NBC in the past (you can read our profile of Harvey here).  After two rounds of interviews, The Late Show offered Jake the internship.

The Late Show rotates interns through different parts of production based on the day of the week so that they are exposed to many of the people and departments that make the show run.  Mondays for Jake involved working with the house band, Stay Human, led by Jon Batiste. Wednesdays he worked in general production. “Lots of that was grocery shopping and helping out in the office.  I’d help out the wardrobe department sometimes. You’re always busy doing something.” He also got to go to rehearsal for the comedy monologue that opens every show. “You get to see Stephen essentially live edit the script.  It’s amazing,” he says.

Thursdays he worked on music talent and then later on the cold opens.  “Those were so much fun. We got to sit in on the writing meeting for it where they have to figure everything out by 3 PM when they do rehearsal and show it to Stephen.  It all happens so fast.” On Fridays, interns attended seminars with higher-ups. “There’s a really strong philosophy in this program that you’re there to learn,” Jake explains.  “They make sure you get time with people you might not interact with otherwise.” He got to meet with and hear from people like the Co-Executive Producer, the Line Producer, the Executive Producer and Showrunner Chris Licht, and yes, even Stephen.

“I spent a lot of time setting up meetings with people and learning about their jobs,” Jake says. “I loved learning about the production side of things from the associate producers and field producers.  The music producer also has a great job. He acts as sort of the eyes and ears of the band and as their liaison to the rest of production.”

Jake went into his internship interested in television as a field but unsure what he would end up thinking of it.  “This summer it kind of all clicked,” he says. “This is what I want to do. It’s a lot of grunt work, but I loved doing it.  You just fall in love with the process of helping make this amazing show come together.”

What advice would he give after his experience this summer?  “Never be afraid to reach out to someone. Use all your contacts.  People love to help other people. Maggie Walker is an incredible resource.  Use every resource you can. Related to that, be willing to help out anyone who comes to you.  I don’t like the mentality that everyone is competing for one job. People move around and things change, and the person you help get a position somewhere could easily turn around and help you later.”  In fact, Jake was able to give Harvey some advice as he looked for his next role.

As summer comes to a close, Jake is looking forward to getting back to Tufts to start his junior year. He’ll be joining the video section of his college’s newspaper focusing on short documentary film-making, while he continues pursuing his degree in music and political science.

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