Florida A&M University students networked Wednesday with professionals in the entertainment and sports industries at Boost Mobile’s “Game Behind the Game” panel discussion.
The panelists for the discussion were Jeff Belizaire from New Era Cap & Apparel, Mike Johnson of EA Sports, Verky Arcos, arts coordinator from Island/Def Jam Records, Ali Muhammad from 21st Century Hustle Magazine, Tricia Bouzigard from Boost Mobile and Beverly Smith, a fashion and style expert.
FAMU alumnus Will Packer, of Rainforest Productions, debuted the trailer for his new movie “Stomp the Yard.” Packer expressed a message of opportunity to the attendees.
“I want to make sure that you all realize that this is an opportunity. Every empty seat is an opportunity,” Packer said. “Your competition is fierce, and it is not always about the 4.0. The fact that you are here today is the first step.”
The panelists advised students on how to “hustle” to do what they want to do. The industry representatives shared their real-life experiences on how they lived and followed their dreams.
Smith encouraged the students to have confidence in their skills when they go into interviews.
“I wish someone would have told me to follow my passion,” Smith said.
Smith went on to tell students not to be daunted by the competition. In an interview with a future employer, Smith told the interviewer, “I have something they don’t have: knowledge and a hell of a lot of personality.”
Smith advised students to “find your brand and be able to articulate it.”
Muhammad shared his experience of going to New York to live his dream with little to no money in his pocket.
“I moved to New York with $200. When I went into the meeting with Vibe I had 50 cents in my pocket,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad received the job, and because he was able to “operate at the drop of the dime,” he impressed his employer and was told he would receive $5,000.
The panelists told the students they are in a prime environment to pursue their dreams and make things happen.
“Really take advantage of the resources here. This is the only time in your life when everything is set up for you, the entrepreneur,” Johnson said.
Muhammad agreed with Johnson. When Muhammad was a student at FAMU he used the students here as focus groups to pursue his music career.
The “Game Behind the Game” event brought in a little more than 100 students, who interacted with the panel by asking questions.
“I think it was very successful,” said Antoinette Mabry, a Boost Mobile representative. “Students got a lot of value.”
As a benefit of attending the panel, FAMU students will be able to apply for exclusive internship opportunities with Boost Mobile and other participating corporations.
The Boost Mobile “Game Behind the Game” internships will be different because they offer non-traditional experiences in the areas of entertainment, events, marketing, product development and public relations.
The moderator for the event was Keisha Walker. Walker is a former Boost Mobile representative and founder of Insights Marketing. She said there were three things to be accomplished with the panel.
The “Game Behind the Game” initiative was meant for students to have a whole new respect for Boost Mobile. Walker said she also wanted students to learn “how to get in, stay in and fit in once (they) got in.”
“There are more opportunities in entertainment, sports and advertising outside of what they see in the everyday media,” Williams said. “There are different areas of expertise that you can consider.”
Williams is also a FAMU alumna.
“I bleed orange and green,” Walker said. “FAMU is the best in the world and Black Enterprise did not have to tell me.”
Boost Mobile will be touring 12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the fall semester, including North Carolina A&T University, Hampton University, Clark Atlanta University, Spelman and Morehouse.
Last year was the first year Boost Mobile presented the “Game Behind the Game” initiative. They presented the 2006 video games in conjunction with Vibe magazine.
This year, Boost Mobile wanted the focus to be primarily on the exclusive opportunities offered to the HBCU students.
“We believe strongly in enhancing the lifestyle and views of our target demographic,” said Danielle Alvarez, the community relations manager for Boost Mobile. “The company believes that the initiative will ‘boost’ the lives of their audience.”
After the panel discussion a reception was held from 4-6:30 p.m. in the Rattler’s Den. The reception was an opportunity for students, administration and alumni to network with the representatives and each other.
Williams emphasized that the purpose of the initiative was to accomplish was to tell students that “success has a larger definition than money.”