I wrote this 3 years ago for a friend of a friend. Even though I was only 2 years out of college, surprisingly most of the advice still holds true. I just copied and pasted it, so some stuff might be immature, but I still agree with mostly everything I wrote.
Here is the unadulterated version of what I wrote:
Kimesha: I just got this to open, and it is getting late. I will do my best to answer your questions. If you have any other questions, please call me XXXX, or drop me an email at Jeff@XXX.com. I want to get this to you asap, so I will burn the proverbial midnight oil.
1. There is a story behind every successful person. How did you get your foot in the door? How did you start?
I answered a classified ad in the newspaper in December ’03. I was very persistent with getting the results while they were making their decision. I didn’t get the job, but a month later, the person they hired didn’t work out and I got the call back. I’ve been at WLNY TV for almost 2 years.
2. Some people have a Master’s Degree in Anthropology, and has a career in Accounting. What was your educational preparation for your career?
I have a BS in computer science from Binghamton University. I did learn some programs that have helped me, but mostly I gained the ability to understand how a computer works and how programs operate. I can quickly pick up most programs put in front of me, which has been very valuable for me at our station because we have been upgrading our equipment to a more computerized newsroom since I came here.
Most of my education in the television station came from extracurriculars and an internship. I noticed you mentioned internships later in the questionnaire so I will hold off with that info.
3. I’ve been told that the end result of most successful careers start with an excellent internship. Where did you work before this job? What is your professional background?
I interned at Binghamton University for a local news station, the NBC/ABC affiliate. They took themselves very seriously, but were small enough so that I could play a part in the show. I had a very comprehensive internship, one day a week I went out with reporters and filmed and helped write and edit for the show. The other day I was in the control work making graphics, and helping in any way I could. I never had to do any of the classic production assistant things like get people coffee or donuts. I know they did have other interns that basically did nothing the whole time they were there. We have a lot of interns at our station, and I can see how some make a success out of the internship and some don’t accomplish much at all. If you show interest and want to learn for a purpose, you will succeed in the internship. This is the most important thing you can do at university. Many people get jobs right after the internship at that station. Two people just became writers at my station after interning.
I also worked as a control room operator in Binghamton University at a distance learning facility. This was great professional experience, and I was given a lot of responsibility there. It definitely showed me the finest example of how a working environment should be.
During one summer I worked as a lab technician in the research and development department of a company which made pot (potentiometers). This gave me some technical background, and showed me a very successful business. I was 19 or 20 when I worked there, not quite mature enough to fully grasp how to get the most out of these opportunities. I feel this did show my technical abilities on résumé’s, so that was good.
4. It’s very important to enjoy what you do. What do you like most about your job? Or least?
I like most being creative. About half the time, we have a lot of discretion as to editing or creating graphics. I like to be able to make my own vision come true.
What I like least is the commercial influence and the control over what we air on television. When I think of it as a business, I understand more and feel better about it. Unfortunately, the business end of the news is more discreet to the viewers, so I sometimes feel they are the innocent victims.
5. After a 12, or 13 hour shift working in a restaurant, I’ve seen it all. What’s a typical day like in your career? Describe yesterday?
My work comes in gradually throughout the day. I type in the words that go on the bottom of the screen that usually tell the location or the name of the person talking. I also share duties making graphics such as over-the-shoulder boxes (you usually see them on a top corner when the anchor is speaking) and full-screen graphics. Also, I make the maps that you see on a newscast, where they zoom into a location. Sometimes I do some editing for the show. If there is any digital editing to be done, it is usually done by myself or my supervisor (together, we are the graphics department). During the show, I either operate the teleprompter, camera, tape decks, or graphics station. Yesterday I operated the teleprompter.
6. During your experiences throughout your career, what are some of the most exciting, surprising, challenging, and/or rewarding events you’ve faced?
It is very exciting seeing the heads of the company operate and make decisions. These people are here for a reason. Most are extremely dedicated and consistently make the most prudent decisions. Others are born into it. There are characteristics that all of these most successful individuals hold, one of them is to think of solutions, not problems. This is such an excellent way to think, it will always get you places. There is still a lot to learn.
Something challenging has been office politics. There is always such a dynamic with how everyone gets along and their issues with eachother. It’s a game. I would compare it to monopoly, its fun when you’re winning, but when you stop playing you realize you just wasted all your time playing a stupid game.
7. Things and time changes, as they do, how are you prepared to stay on top?
Always say yes. If any opportunity presents itself, say yes. You will go nowhere being reluctant. There are a bunch of proverbs on this subject, you can pick one. I regret only what I have not…
8. What are some of the challenges facing the industry today, whether it affects you personally or not?
An issue recently has been with the FCC mandating that we broadcast to new standards. Starting in January, all news programs (maybe all programs) must have closed captioning. We had to update our system to a computerized system. This is good for me now actually, they are more dependent on me as we are moving to a more computerized newsroom. I am usually the first person they turn to to learn the new programs, and then I can teach other people on the crew. For my current situation, it works to my advantage.
9. It’s important to know how to handle a give situation, in any line of work. What are the most important skills to develop, and master to succeed in the media biz?
Networking is extremely important. In almost any business. Don’t think of it as ‘networking’, that is an awful word because monster.com and all of these articles and shows hound us to network. It is so much better just to think of it as meeting people. That’s all. Meeting people, letting them know what you are interested in, and knowing what they are interested in.
There are so many jobs in media. Not only on air, but everything in the business end of it.
The most important thing is knowing how to talk to anyone. And also how to dress well.
10. If given the opportunity to do it all again, what would you change? Or would you change anything?
I don’t want to change anything.
There are advantages and disadvantages to every decision. If you want to be more successful in a career faster, I would suggest getting a more specialized degree than computer science. I could have been more specialized though, there were opportunities, I was more focused on my extracurricular media activities when I went to school.
11. For someone who is very interested in your field of work, and in the media in general, what advise can you offer.
The past 10 questions have been advice!
Okay, to go over it quick:
Say YES. Meet people, and be interested. Dress how you want to be seen.
The people who brought you up gave you your blueprint for financial and career success. They instilled on you what you are capable of and your comfort zone. You were trained how much you should be hoping to make, and what goals you are to accomplish. Destroy it.
12. I feel as if I’ve benefited greatly from your time and information however, is there a question that I didn’t ask?
It’s almost 3am, I wanted to get this out as quick as possible, I probably sacrificed some clarity for timeliness. I would love to elaborate on these answers more. I saw the date was October 1, it is probably due soon. If you would like to talk about these things more, don’t hesitate to give me a call or email at any time. I love to talk about life after college, and what opportunities are available.
Oh, I don’t know where this would go, but I have learned that people don’t change. Most people are the same person they were when they were 20, no matter what age they are now. Beneath a couple of layers they are the same. When we are 40, we will be the same basic person, with the same eccentricities, the same mannerisms. When we are 60, 80, the same. Its there. And a point to this paragraph is there somewhere, too late to figure out where.
Theres so much more to say about this industry and about careers. If I was to fill this out tomorrow morning, the answers would be completely different, still true, but different.