We are two weeks away from Commencement and I know that much of our graduating class is worried about transitioning into the working world.  I certainly was when I was in their shoes a few years ago (okay, maybe more than a few).

So many questions!

How do I find my first job?

What do I say in the interview?

Will I be able to afford to live and work in (insert city here)?

How can I prove I am capable?

How do I build my network beyond the people I went to school with?


Trust me, the job search is terrifying at any age or stage of your career!  Neale Donald Walsch wrote that “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  That is a really tough place to be for an extended amount of time, and your job search could very well take time, but have faith that it will all work out!  You proved you have grit and determination while working on your degree and those attributes are ones that will help as you move into your career.

We reached out to your fellow alumni and asked them to share their advice to our Class of 2017:

Create your own opportunities. Assert yourself and your assets to prospective employers. Offer solutions to problems. Offer creative ideas and projects that you are willing to give at no cost to prove yourself. Create your own job description and then strive to make yourself indispensable.Cori Coffin (BFA/TBJ ’09)

Go for what you want and be willing to put in the work for it. If you really love what you are doing, it won’t feel like work.Andrej Landin (BFA/FP ’13)

The days are long [as an agent] and the job can be tough, but if you keep true to your natural self and focus on the ultimate joy and thrill that comes from playing any part in getting someone a job that moves their life forward then every minute is magical.Karina Nahai Manashil (BFA/FP ’12)

Three bits of advice that I heard repeated over and over: “Get used to hearing no. But don’t take no for an answer.” “It’s just a story. You can write it.” And, “Say ‘yes’ first. Figure out how to do it later.” I swear I use at least one of these statements every day.Mark Miller (BFA/FP ’06)

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Take much-deserved recognition in stride but don’t let ego get to you. At the end of the day, you’re the only person looking out for your career and personal growth. Most importantly, work hard and be nice to everyone.Colin Sommer (BA/PRA ’14)

Be the first one in, the last one out and always look for ways to make your boss look good. They will notice. Doors open for people who work hard and work smart. Be proactive. Don’t wait for things to come to you and, finally, don’t feel entitled. You have to earn everything you are going to get. That’s the basic rule of this industry.Mariana Manuela Flynn (BFA/FP ’02)

Be open.  There are so many paths you can take through the industry and you never know where an opportunity may lead unless you are open to exploring them.Travis Knox (BA/Comm ’93)

Always be doing what you want to be doing. In other words, if you want to be a writer, always be writing. You can always get better and you’ll always have competition. Not only that, but if you’re in a position where someone gives you a lifeline and asks to read something you’ve written, you want to have that piece of material ready immediately to put in their hand. You never know when an opportunity will present itself, and you want to be prepared for the minute it does.Kelly Galuska (BA/SW ’06)

Anytime you hear a phrase involving “they” (e.g. “they will take care of it”) realize there is no “they”. Mitch McIntire (BFA/FP ’08)

Be opportunistic.  Say yes to everything – don’t overthink it.  If an opportunity presents itself – take it.  You never know where it will lead you and you will never miss out on what could’ve been if you take that initiative.  Just say yes until you’ve learned enough to know what to say no to.Tristen Tuckfield (MFA/FP ’06)

Take risks. I’m a huge believer in calculated risk taking. It’s so tempting to settle into a job and get comfortable. But comfort is anathema to personal, professional, and creative progress. We need to take risks and test the waters of the unknown to discover who we really are, what we want, and what we’re capable of.  If you find yourself facing a career or life decision, and one of the options scares you more than the other, odds are that’s the one you should choose.Dan Olson (MFA/FP ’07)

Exploit all of your connections to the industry. The industry is all about who you know and when your graduate, your de facto “circle” is your fellow alumni.Danielle Halagarda (BFA/FP ’08)

Be service-oriented in your approach and in your work.  Don’t just “do a good job.” Make yourself invaluable by providing service in addition to achieving a result or finishing a task.  For example, in my work as a cinematographer, I don’t simply view my job as how I perform my duties on set. I provide my clients service and support from pre- through post-production.  Being on set or behind a camera is only a part of my job, and it’s my service-approach beyond the time spent on set that keeps my clients coming back.Dan Parsons (MFA/FP ’08)

Enjoy the journey to the top. I think there is this weird presumption that just because you graduated from a tier one private school that you are going to make a lot of money right out of University. Some maybe yes, but most will not. Manage your own expectations and understand you will have to work hard, long hours to earn the respect and pay you want. Nothing turns an employer off more than a “private school kid” that thinks he or she is going to become the CMO within a year. Leadership roles take time to obtain.Fiona Beitdashtoo (BA/PRA ’07)

My advice to you is to learn from our alumni how to best tell your story.  Be resilient, kind, and grateful.  And never forget that there are 6500+ Dodge College alumni who are willing to help, mentor and guide you – we are your Panther network!

Congratulations to the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts Class of 2017!!