Okay, in our last discussion (Building a Career, Part 1), we talked about the first two steps of building a career after you graduate: landing that all-important first job (whichever one you’re offered) and then working as hard as you can at it – with a smile. Today we’re going to go from Step One backward to Step Zero…that’s right, backward. We’re going to talk about what you should be doing while you’re in school to prepare for your future career.
BUILDING A CAREER (PART 2)
BUIDLING YOUR SKILLS. Despite what you’ve been conditioned to believe during Grades K-12, the most important element of your time in school is NOT your GPA. Your #1 focus while you’re in college should be what you learn. Because employers aren’t looking for somebody with a 3.93, they’re looking for somebody who knows how to do something. So learn about as many things as you can while you’re in school – or, to put it another way, build the biggest, deepest personal tool box to draw from. Even if you want to direct and plan to leave the “technical stuff” to others, learn it anyway. Learn about the cameras, and editing, and sound. Learn Pro Tools, and Avid. Because your first several jobs won’t be directing, so what will they be? The more stuff you know how to do, the greater the possibilities.
Even if you’re a writer, you’ll need some skills to pay the bills while you hone your craft. So learn about script analysis and doing coverage, because that’s what you may be doing. Or step outside your comfort zone and learn about Avid and editing, because spending time in an editing room, even as a lowly assistant, is one of the best ways to continue learning about writing for the screen while you pull a paycheck.
INTERNSHIPS. The single best set of connections you can make with the professional world while you’re in school is through your internship(s). This is a free opportunity to fulfill a graduation requirement (internships are required for most majors at Dodge College), begin to build a resume, and start building a network of people who will recommend you for future jobs. Many students find that one of their internships actually leads to a paying gig with the company after graduation. This makes perfect sense – after all, this company has actually seen you in action, seen how you function in their environment under “game conditions.” Even if the place you intern doesn’t have an opening for you after graduation, the people you’ve worked with have friends and colleagues who might need someone like you. So forget the fact that you’re “working for free.” Internships are a golden opportunity. Work your tail off, go the extra mile to prove you’ve got what it takes to be a professional.
THEY’RE NOT JUST FELLOW PANTHERS, THEY’RE POTENTIAL FUTURE JOB CONNECTIONS. You know those first jobs you have your eye on for when you graduate? Well, somebody usually has them before you. And that somebody is often as not somebody a year or two ahead of you in film school. If they’re smart and hard-working, they will have proved themselves after a year or two and will be ready to move on to Job #2 in their careers. That’s good news for you, because it opens up Job #1. But even better news for you would be if when Mr. or Ms. Older Than You tells the boss they’re moving on (or gets promoted at the same company because they’ve done such a good job), they also say “and I know the perfect person to replace me.”
That’s why you want to treat everyone around you in film school well. Be polite. Help them out when you can. Crew on their films. Share knowledge and connections when you can. This should be how you roll throughout your career – because the more people who say good things about you and your work, the stronger your career will be and easier your job searches will be.
Now, about that Job #2 that senior got…that will be our topic for Building a Career , Part 3. So stay tuned.