Five Things I Really Wish I Knew in College (#4 is my Favorite)

This article is a guest contribution from Allie Shields, veteran Associate Producer and Production Coordinator for a variety of television productions and castings.

things I wish I learned in college

College life can be one big excuse to ignore opportunity and head to the nearest party. We have a better idea.

It’s easy to fall victim to circumstance, especially in college – there may not be overly passionate people around you, leaders who don’t push you, and there’s always the temptation to blow everything off and go to an awesome party.

Even if you have all of those possible pitfalls, there’s a way to balance fun and future that I wish someone had explained to me as a co-ed.

1. You’re Never Too Young

I knew as far back as high school that I wanted to work in television. Once you figure out your passion, insert yourself in any possible way.  Don’t let seemingly huge obstacles get in the way.

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You live in a small town where there aren’t productions you could intern or work for?  Volunteer with an elementary school to help kids create a morning telecast, volunteer with the public TV station, intern with your local congressmen’s press team (all things I’ve done or heard of).

Don’t think for a second companies won’t take you seriously because you’re in high school.  If anything, they’ll take you more seriously because they see your effort and passion shine through.  It’s great to be diverse, and you have the time to build your skills and diversify.

There are opportunities everywhere.

television jobs

 2. Contact WHOEVER You Want

You have the best superpower, and you unleash it with this phrase – “I’m a student looking to learn, free of charge!”

People hear that and think of a time when they first started out and needed a chance.  Most people want to help out and make the circle of production life continue.  Shoot for the stars!  Want to be the next Mindy Kaling?  Do some research and email her team – see if they need an intern!

Email and call NBC, CBS, ABC, apply to their internships.

Check amazing resources like intern queen and  WorkinEntertainment for postings frequently.  Set a goal for yourself – devote at least 30 minutes per day of sitting down and researching opportunities.  However much effort you put in, it will come back to you.

3. Move On From Bad Experiences

I had an internship in college that went OK – just OK.  I tried my best but honestly they really shouldn’t have been hiring interns that semester (they didn’t have enough work that needed help).  I have no idea why it never occurred to me that I should get another internship.  I had this ridiculous idea of everyone having only one internship experience, and mine was a wash – time to move on.

Have ten different internships! Think of the ways you’d learn about your industry and grow before you’re even out in the “real world!”

4. Don’t Just do Something Because it’s for a Class or Credit

things learned in college

College can be overwhelming if you let it, just make sure to focus on the things that will help you get a job after graduating. Keep it simple.

This time isn’t just a bubble known as college – it’s your life!

Although classes should be a priority, you should be thinking about your life outside classes more than the weeks before graduation.

  • Work freelance gigs when you have opportunities like winter and summer break
  • Research your idols and go on informational interviews because no one asked you
  • Have an internship that doesn’t earn you college credit.

It’s worth it if you learn something  and contribute.  And if you have contributed, you’ve already started building your network!

Keep in contact with these people like intern bosses, co-workers, and classmates.  They’ll be your lifelines of support post-college and during job searches (and vice versa).

Join networking groups like:

  1. Women in Communications
  2. National Broadcasting Society
  3. Women in Film/Television (different sites for different cities – the link provided is to my current chapter)

Most of these have collegiate chapters that have local events, contests you can enter, and correspondence with professional chapters.  My relationship with a member of Women in Communications led to my first post-college job in the industry!

5. Don’t Rely Solely on Internships

Internships are amazing, don’t get me wrong.  But even when you don’t have the time to intern with your extracurricular activities, classes, and part time job, you can still work in rewarding activities that will pay off in the future.

I used to think informational interviews were reserved for post-graduates trying to underhandedly find a job or learn about a company.  Treat an informational interview as your own personal intensive or 20 minute internship.  Come prepared with questions you’re curious to learn about the industry, the person’s company and job.  And of course you’re not looking for a job, you’re still in school!  So the pressure is off on both sides.

No matter your age or experience level, if you really put in solid effort and research along with honing your skills, you’ll be miles ahead of your classmates at graduation – perfectly suiting yourself for a great first job at your dream company.

Don’t stop with the effort there, though!  Every stage of your career could benefit from learning new skills, researching and going above and beyond what is asked of you.

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for &

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


  1. Kimberly says:

    This article was great. I recently graduated and loss hope in working in the entertainment industry, but I think I will seek new ways to make it.

    • That is great to hear Kimberly – don’t lose hope, there are plenty of avenues to get your foot in the door! Just remember you first job won’t be your dream job, matter of fact, it may royally suck. But it can be a way to get started in the industry, prove yourself and start making your way to something bigger and better. – Brian


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