Four Myths About Entertainment Careers and Why You Should Ignore Them

entertainment careers are unique

Entertainment careers are unlike the linear career paths you find in most careers

The world of entertainment does not fit into the norms of other careers, because the path to success is far from linear.

If you want to be an Accountant you are programmed from day one to go to college, get your undergrad in business, proceed directly to the best MBA program you can get into and upon graduation send your resume to one of the Big 4 accounting firms.

Get the cubicle warm here I come!

Now take the plight of an aspiring TV Reporter. Maybe they study English…or Journalism….or Business… or Political Science, any of those options can work.

While in school their primary focus is on internships at various TV networks…or newspapers…or digital media sources, all of those can work too.

After graduating they build a demo reel to work on TV and send it out to networks in Bozeman, Montana… Grand Rapids, South Dakota… and Allentown, Pennsylvania hoping for a starting gig. Or they go into print or digital media and attack a whole different set of small markets to gain a foothold in the industry.

Four Myths About Entertainment Careers and Why You Should Ignore Them Click To Tweet

Oh wait, somewhere in that “path” the decision had to be made…should I get my Masters instead and achieve a higher level of education? Will that help?

The point of this scenario is you have a different set of rules in the entertainment industry, so the myths and legends you hear from friends on their typical career paths do not apply to you.

Here are four of the most common myths we hear and why they are completely irrelevant to your existence.

Entertainment Career Myth #1

“The choice of where I go to college will influence how successful I can be”

Not all colleges and universities are created equal, but your story does not begin and end with where you decide to get your undergrad. Ultimately, your success is about you, your drive and your willingness to learn and take on challenges, way more than it is about the name of the school atop your diploma.

A student who gets admitted to a top journalism university like Indiana or Missouri, doesn’t automatically become better than someone who attends UC-Santa Cruz or Bowing Green. It is about the effort and determination of the individual, their ability to get internships, build a professional reputation and gain tangible skills that employers need.

Alyssa Scaglione is a Content Associate at ESPN in Los Angeles, she went to Muhlenberg College in rural, Pennsylvania. Not Syracuse, not USC, not University of Maryland… Muhlenberg.

Why was she hired at a powerhouse network like ESPN? Because while in school she improved herself outside of the classroom by completing internships at TV stations in New York City  and Washington D.C.. That is where she gained the experience to compete with anyone.

Success isn't tied to the college you attend - it's about you #truth Click To Tweet

While other people worked at the beach selling shoes during the summer, she worked at jobs that would help teach her how to succeed.

It’s about you, not the school.

Entertainment Career Myth #2:

“I should hold out for the perfect job”

No actually you shouldn’t.

career in music radio host

Your dream job isn’t going to smack you in the face right out of college, plan to start small and build

Your goal should be to get your foot in the door at a good company and work your way up, or just get any job in your field that will start getting you experience and a paycheck.

It’s more important to work for the right company than it is to have the perfect job title. Having a reputable company on your resume gives you immediate credibility and provides career opportunities from within.

According to a 2013 study conducted by CareerXRoads, 42% of all hires were internal candidates. That means, if you have an entertainment job you are highly likely to get the next, even better one, if you are in the building already.

The bottom line is, it’s rare that people get their dream job right out of college or after a career change; you need to get A job and then figure the rest out.  And trust me, it’s a lot less stressful looking for new opportunities when you are getting a paycheck and paying your bills.

Entertainment Career Myth #3:

“The more resumes I send out the better my chances are for getting hired”

I call this the “Shotgun Technique” – just spray your resume out to as many companies as possible and wait for the magic to happen.

This technique is wrought with problems and destined to fail because:

  1.  Nothing on your resume or cover letter is personalized, everything is just a form letter
  2. Chances are you will be applying for jobs that are not a match for your skills and frustrate hiring managers
  3. You lose track of who you have applied to, now if someone follows up via phone how prepared are you to answer intelligently?
  4. Frustration mounts faster as you get more and more rejections or non-responses.

There is a better plan!

Target specific companies and specific entertainment careers that match a high percentage of your current skills and you would make a viable candidate for. (Wow, talk about mind-blowing!!)

Follow this plan:

  1. Study the job descriptions of each opportunity and target your cover letter to hit on why you are a match for the role. Explain why you are passionate about what they do and how your skills match what they need, be specific to their position so they can immediately identify that you are not just submitting a form letter, that in fact, you customized your correspondence based on their job opening.
  2. Keep an active spreadsheet of all the jobs you have applied for with columns that categorize the contact name, the skills they require, the location, the date you submitted your application and any notes that are relevant. Now if someone calls you from a potential employer you can quickly get up to speed on the job and speak intelligently about it.
  3.  Use LinkedIn like a boss. If you search the company you are applying with you can see all the employees at that company that are on LinkedIn. It will also tell you if you are connected to them, or if anyone you know is connected with them. If you have some connections, start reaching out to those people to see if they can help get your resume or cover letter in front of someone at the company instead of just being in a virtual stack of online submissions.
  4. Figure out the maximum number of jobs you can apply to per week that allows you to maintain a personalized approach. If you can’t personalize 10 applications per week then limit yourself to 8 or 5. Discover your number and stick to a personalized approach. Make sure your job seeking approach is based on quality not quantity.

See, now that is a better plan.

find entertainment careers in music

Entertainment Career Myth #4:

“If I don’t know exactly what I want to do after college, I should just go get a Masters Degree”

A Masters Degree is an expensive highly unnecessary step for the entertainment industry, experience matters more. Even getting your undergrad degree is just a means to an internship end.

You need internships to gain real experience, which is why people hire in this industry, but to get an internship you need to be enrolled in an undergrad program.

entertainment careers internships

Internships are more important than anything you learn in the classroom — there I said it, just don’t tell your parents

Ergo, your Contemporary Moral Problems class, which does nothing to help your career but does make you a well-rounded student, is a means to getting internships. That is where the real learning takes place, so take those more seriously than your classroom work (just don’t tell your parents I said that).

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.

But a Masters degree is not a time-killer, it should be a well-researched and necessary piece of a career puzzle, with a clear goal at the end. Before deciding to get a Masters you should be able to ask and answer the question “What do I want to do, and why is a Master degree necessary for that career step?”

Sometimes your college tuition is just an entry fee so you can get #internships and really learn Click To Tweet

If you can’t answer that question – scrap the Masters and start gaining experience on the job!

Final Thought

The reason you are interested in the entertainment industry is exactly for these reasons, it’s different, it’s creative, it’s out of the box.

Your approach to working in the industry should be all of those things too, so don’t be afraid to ignore the clichés, burn your own path and try things without fear of failure.

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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.

Comments

  1. Josh miller says:

    Wow. I have some good questions for BRian here, especially after having seen his experience per companies mentioned. These scenarios are my literal current plight but instead of gre I am considering law school. Is there any way I can get some advice on how to gain my dream of working for animated shows through subsidiaries of CNN?
    Thanks
    Josh

  2. Hey Brian, My name is Richa and I am from India..I am working as an associate producer in the Indian television industry. Due to some reasons I have to shift to USA. I would like to pursue a career in the same field over there…I have down 7 shows. I would really appreciate if you could tell me the best way to proceed to get a job in the American television industry. Should I also start with an internship, what is the best possible way? I would really appreciate your advice on the same. Thanks

  3. Went to connect with you on Linked IN, your Profile comes up unavailable?

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