If you ask anyone in the Media/TV/Film industry how they got there, majority of them will tell you the same thing: they got lucky. While that may be true, it doesn’t mean you can’t create your own luck. I’m 24 years old, I’ve worked as a Producer for Canada’s leading networks, a Production Coordinator for major red carpets, was an on-air reporter for a local cable show and have 6 years of experience in the industry under my belt. I’m not at all saying this to brag; I want to motivate you and show you that you don’t have to wait until you’re done school to get into television.
Before we get started it’s important you know that this industry is forever changing; It’s growing one day, shrinking the next and let’s be honest everything is moving to the digital world. Now if you’re ready to enter this crazy career path, then hopefully you can get something out of this article. I’ve had many college students reach out to me and set up informative interviews about how I got where I am (which was SO smart on their part) and I always say the same things:
Network, Network, Network.
You’ve heard this from every professor and their mother by now but it’s so true. You will soon learn that networking is more valuable than any job site you will ever come across. Every person you meet will know 3 other people and they will know 3 other people and before you know it, you know everyone in the industry (because seriously, that’s how small the industry is). A recommendation from someone who is already established is one of the best things you can ever receive.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and set up informative interviews. Don’t expect to get a job out of it, but people will remember you took the initiative. They will remember you the next time an opportunity comes up. Be sure to get an email address from whomever you meet; thank them for taking the time to meet you and leave the rest up to them. Don’t be pushy and continue to follow up every week . The last thing anyone wants is a flooded inbox! You’ll find that opportunities will come up some way or another.
One girl who set up a meeting with me sent me a Thank-You card to my work, so thoughtful!I kept it on my desk and always remembered her if I needed anyone.
Don’t wait until your internship to get an internship.
The reason I can say I have 6 years of experience is because I started volunteering at my local cable network the minute I knew what I wanted to do. I took summer internships and worked a part-time job at night to pay off my car – if you want to be in the industry you need to #hustle.
Students complain that they can’t get a job because they don’t have experience. Pick up whatever volunteer jobs you can, look for entry level positions; it’s a great way to build your resume.
I volunteered for Rogers TV during College; if you’re in Ontario I highly recommend this. You’ll have the opportunity to work in the control room, on set, or be on-air. See how you can be a volunteer HERE. For entry-level jobs or other gigs I recommend searching Mandy.com.
Start building your brand NOW.
If you’re going into this industry, my guess is that you’re creative (in one way or another). As great as it is to land a paying job, a few years into this career path you’ll develop the drive to create your own content. Whether it’s a blog, YouTube Channel, Podcast, Short Film it’s smart to build your brand while you’re in school and have access to the resources. You will never again have access to unlimited video, audio and editing equipment. Not only will this help your future demo reel but it’s important to show your passion and initiative outside of what’s required at school. And who knows? The right person watching your short film could lead to you being hired on a film set.
ALWAYS TAKE EVERY JOB SERIOUSLY (even if it’s cleaning elephant poop).
An old professor of mine gave me this advice and I have lived by it. There are so many students, no not students, people…oh so many people, trying to make it in this industry. A killer demo reel and resume are crucial assets but when it comes down to it you need to be able to do the job and people need to like who they’re working with. You want to be a Producer, Head of DOP or an On-Air Host? It’s great to keep your eye on the long-term prize. But you need to be a transcriber, a grip or a floor director before you can get there.
Whatever job you do, give it 100% and all it takes is one person to see your potential and give you a chance. Treat everybody with respect no matter who they are. This industry is so crazy, that same girl who sent me a thank-you card, I could be emailing her one day asking for a job. You never know!
So work hard, be humble, and hustle. If you learned anything from this, my blog has a “contact me” form.