Entertainment industry panelists presented a Hollywood Spotlight workshop Thursday that gave students information on how to succeed in the business.
Founder of Executive Temps Stacy Milner hosted the segment and explained the serious odds against the approximately 70 students in Lee Hall Auditorium.
“Statistics show there are 27,000 film students each year trying to get inside the entertainment industry,” Milner said.
Milner explained that most people are vying for the positions in drama or comedy.
She added that even if the position given is not the one wanted, one should still value the position because it is like “a rite of passage.” In order to gain access into the entertainment industry, she said, pickiness is not an option.
“Take the first job you can get,” Milner said.
She mentioned that most people who are in prominent positions in Hollywood “started in the mailroom pushing carts or as support,” such as administrative assistant.
Shaun Walker, a second-year theater student from Hallandale, Fla., said he is willing to take advantage of any opportunity given to him.
“I understand the importance of being hired in this economy, especially as a black man,” Walker said. “I know whenever my first acting job arrives, I am theirs for the taking.”
Milner noted that whenever producers come to the campus, students should ask them what was their first job. This method will give students an idea of how other’s before them got their foot inside the door.
Ted Milner, president of Executive Temps, said there are not enough African-American men with administrative positions in the media.
“We’re not representative in those areas,” he said. “That’s why you don’t see a lot of us in the industry because we’re not green lighting the information.”
He also said to “think outside the box of being fed the dreams of tomorrow” and that it is a process. Ted also encouraged the attendees to take advantage of opportunities offered by the other panelists.
“Success is not as far as you think it is, but some are too busy looking at the big door and not at the little door,” he said.
Stacy later emphasized the importance of internships and how they expose students to the insiders of the industry.
“You never know where your internship is going to land you,” she said. “Every time you’re inside the sphere, it’s an opportunity to turn your A-game on and bring your personality.”
Ted added, “One of the best things you can do is an internship because it introduces you to the environment.”
Paul Diaz, a CBS regional human resource manager, suggested to students who lack knowledge and experience to work as hard as possible in entertainment media.
“Get active in anything that’s entertainment,” Diaz said. “Be it grassroots, local, social media — anything that gets you in networking opportunities.”
Monique Martin, a Turner Broadcast technology manager, said Turner Broadcasting offers internships year round. However, she and her company look for candidates with specific attributes.
“I noticed we look at people who already have done some of the work,” Martin said. “We want people who are creative, who find exposure, because it gives them the opportunity to do some of the work in their field.”
Stacy also gave three résumé tips that employers normally look for when hiring: Be sure to include where one got his or her experience, what one did and how long the experience lasted.
As for the interview, Milner highlighted seven points:
1. Do your homework
2. Dress for success
3. Bring your résumé
4. Listen more than you talk
5. Have effective communication
6. Personality and enthusiasm
Quintin Gee, a third-year broadcast journalism student from Jacksonville, said the panelists’ discussion gave him extensive advice.
“The biggest advice I’ve gained was the interview tips they gave,” Gee said. “Effective communications skills is one thing I struggle with and one thing that I will perfect by communicating more properly.”
Ted said getting an interview with the employer already means one is qualified. Students should focus their intentions on what they are being interviewed for, he added.
“Sometimes people oversell themselves,” he said. “If you get the interview, you will make it or break it on the interview. Some people talk way too much in the interview. And more people aren’t interested in you but what you can do for the company.”
Martin added that if “you’re not a fit for the position, then convey yourself in the interview where you will stay top of mind for recruiters who can get you another opportunity.”
Diaz said CBS has developed a program where students can pitch to the staff about various subjects. He said the program gives students real-world training, and students are usually recruited for part-time or full-time opportunities when available.
“More than half the students we bring on board are hired,” Diaz said.
Martin suggested students develop a quick elevator pitch and learn how to sell themselves in a short amount of time.
Naomi Taylor, a first-year broadcast student from Fort Myers, Fla., said she was happy interns had a shot at getting hired.
“It is a big relief to know that employers are hiring interns,” Taylor said. “I just applied for a few in the summer and I am hopeful, especially with this workshop, that I will be chosen.
However, one student has intended to blaze her own path from internships.
Nefetari Dennard, a graduating graphic design student from Tallahasssee, said she owns her own business and that the panel has taught her how to have an eye for hiring possible employees.