Entertainment Jobs Q&A – Should I Accept a Job Offer or Get my Masters?

entertainment jobs to get a masters or not

Getting a Masters isn’t always the answer to entertainment career advancement (and why does the person in the bottom right have a baby on their screen?)

We all have a friend who is a perpetual student, forgoing the job market for yet another piece of paper that says in fancy writing, “you are good enough, you’re smart enough and people like you”.

OK, most Masters degrees don’t actually say that and I’m not trying to give off the vibe that a Masters is a waste – it isn’t. I just think too many people use an advance degree as a time-killer to figure out their life, and don’t go into it with a clear purpose.

If you have a vision of the career you want and know a Masters is necessary go for it…but if you are without that vision and are just meandering through hallways going from classroom to classroom, well I have some thoughts on that in this weeks Entertainment Jobs Q&A.

Do you have a question that you’d like is to dive into? Add it to the comments below and we’ll answer you in an upcoming column!

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The Q:

Hi Brian – I really enjoy all of your content, I have learned so much from reading the blog but I have a question of my own I’d love for you to answer. I’ve always dreamed of working in the music industry, maybe as a producer or publicist (not an artist) and I have a degree in music business. I have a job offer to work in sales at a radio station (a job I found and applied for on WorkinEntertainment) but I’m not sure that’s the direction I want to go. I’m considering going back and getting my Masters degree instead – what do you think?

Alanna B – Boston, Massachusetts

The A:

Alanna,

It’s great to hear that you found and applied for a job on our site (and got an offer) we love to hear success stories! I can understand your resistance towards accepting a job in sales, many people have a negative perception of media sales and the career growth that can come with that choice. Let’s discuss reality vs. perception, and then we’ll get into the Masters or not to Masters conversation as well.

Let’s take this job offer from two angles:

  1. Getting your foot in the door
  2. The potential of sales jobs

entertainment jobs in sales

 

Getting your Foot in the Door of the Entertainment Industry

The hardest job to get is the first one. It’s a fact.

To get your first opportunity you have to prove to a hiring manager you have vast potential that outweighs your lack of experience. Someone offering you a position is taking a risk because there is no empirical evidence proving you can do the job. You may have done internships, you may have a great GPA, but there is no real proof you can do the job because you haven’t.

Anyone with even a modicum of real experience has a leg up on you.

If someone is willing to take a chance on you I am an advocate of taking your chance with them (unless there are huge red flags and a really good reason not to). What you’ll find is after getting the first job, the rest of your career will primarily be in your hands. How hard you work will determine your advancement. How well you listen, learn and execute will determine how much you are liked and respected. How well you perform will decide how great your recommendations are and how many referrals to outside companies you get.

entertainment jobs radio career promotions assistant

Getting a job in sales or promotions is actually a great way to start building a successful career

The first job you are in someone else’s hands – after that you gain control and can decide when you want to go, where you want to go, what you want to do etc.

The Potential of Sales Jobs

There is this belief that sales jobs require going door-to-door or cold calling random people during their Sunday dinner. But that isn’t the type of sales we are talking about here. Sales jobs at a radio or TV station, or at a record label, or at a film studio are about relationships and customer service.

Sales are a function of every part of the business world, no matter what job you have you will be selling something. Trust me, I speak to hundreds of hiring managers and they all want to hire people with sales experience.

Check the resume of any executive level staff at Radio or TV stations and about 75% of the time they got their start in sales. I began my career in TV production and assumed, wrongly, that most executives would have an editorial background. Truth is, most have a sales background because despite the fact we tout TV and Radio as entertainment, they are businesses and people with sales know how to translate decisions to the bottom line.

Lets also approach this from a tactical standpoint.

Say you take this job in sales at a radio station – think about the performers that will come to the station, and with them, the managers and the publicists. Just because you work in the sales department doesn’t mean you can’t interact with the behind the scenes folks and find out more about breaking into their side of the industry.

You don’t want to be a pest, but if you approach it the right way you can network with people that come to the station, or with the bookers that work at your station, or with the radio hosts who may know other people in the industry.

This is how you make the next step in your career. It’s pretty clear I think you should take the sales job and then build a career off of that – but lets discuss that versus a Masters.

find jobs in music

Getting a Masters vs. Getting a Job

From your question it sounds like the idea of a Masters is just a way to stall until you find out what you really want to pursue, and essentially represents a way to put off the tough decision of whether or not to accept the job before you. Maybe you believe a Masters will help you find something better than a sales job at a radio station.

entertainment jobs masters degree

Bad advice. Yet another reason I can’t stand all these “Keep Calm” sayings.

Sounds logical enough – but it’s usually a fallacy.

A Masters is a very expensive way to kill time and there is no guarantee it will help you land a better position than the one that is in front of you. Before deciding to get a Masters degree you should be able to answer this simple question: “What do I want to do, and why is a Master degree necessary for that career step?”

If you can’t answer that, just put the idea of an advance degree in your back pocket for a while and get to work.

Let’s line this up – if you take the radio sales job in two years you’ll have real life-experience and an advanced network of contacts. If you go the Masters route, you’ll have classroom experience, a fancy sheet of paper and a few more internships completed.

I think the case is clear – getting out in the workforce is more beneficial, but here’s one more angle to consider: if you really want your Masters, work for a few years and maybe your employer will help pay for it.

Now that’s a win-win.

I hope this helps Alanna, if anyone else has any thoughts that can help Alanna, add them to the comments below as well as your questions for an upcoming Entertainment Jobs Q&A column – we love answering your questions!

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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 WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

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

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  1. […] The truth about a Masters degree as it relates to entertainment careers – most people use a Masters program as a way to kill time while they hope their perfect career path comes up and smacks them in the face. […]

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