Be bright. Be brief. Be gone.

By Ross Wade, Elon School of COMM Career Guy

Last Thursday was the second annual MA, Interactive Media (iMedia) Showcase. It was such an amazing event and learning experience not just for the iMedia students, but for me as well. Panelists from Ogilvy, Pixar/Walt Disney, Octagon, Pursuit of Happiness and Freedom Communications shared their insights on “talent, technology and the next big thing.” Here are some pearls of wisdom offered at the panel, and during my dinner with the panelists after the event:

1. Be bright. Be brief. Be gone. – When sending resumes or cover letters, follow this advice. No 4 page resumes or cover letters. Employers, just like everyone else, are very busy people. Show them your best stuff in a clear and concise way and be done!

2. Know who you are! – Are you a designer? Strategist? Producer? Many applicants seem like they have multiple personalities when you look at their resume. Know who you are and be clear about it. From my experience with employers, they don’t seem to like generalists too much, so that is why it is  a good idea to pick a specialty or track and really become good at it, and make sure this identity is clear in your self marketing materials.

3. Collaborate. -If you are project manager or producer and need a professional website created to market yourself, collaborate with an actual web designer to get the site done right! Don’t make the wrong first impression because you have a heinous website – work with a designer and communicate to employers that you produced (rather than designed) the website…this way you’ll have a killer website and also show you know how to work in a team to get media created.

4. Passion + personality = employer likey – Charisma sells…it really does. Not naturally very charismatic? Then you may not be working with a company or in a field that you are passionate about. Employers want to know you are a fan of their company/product and that you are passionate about what you do – EMPLOYERS LOVE THIS! If you have passion for what you do, it will show in your work and in your interactions (e.g. interviews) with employers.

5. Be brave and take the plunge!. – If you want to make movies or be a part of a community of filmmakers, then you NEED TO GO THERE! So many students say, “Well, I’ll apply for jobs in Los Angeles, and then once I get one I’ll move there.” Wrong answer. To be connected to a professional community, you need to actually be there. Trying to apply for west coast jobs with an east coast address will only hurt you. This goes for any city and any job. If you want to live in Chicago and be a web developer, then move there. When I was 24 I wanted to do documentary film in NYC, so I moved there, waited tables at the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) restaurant in Times Square and interned until I finally got a paid job in documentary. Grow a set and go – ha!

Other advice included: don’t lie on your resume (employers will ask you about it); each company has it’s own culture, so it is best to do some info meetings to get a grasp on their specific culture prior to connecting and interviewing; there are things you think you know that you don’t know well enough (see Colleen’s post from last week); Microsoft Project is a great skill to have if you plan on going into media project management (Ogilvy likes folks to have this skill).


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