There are many myths surrounding careers in the entertainment industry, but it’s important to distinguish truth from fact. Unlike linear paths towards accounting or finance, people heading into the world of entertainment might not take a straight route. That’s because there is a whole different set of rules when it comes to this business.
The Perfect Role
“I should wait for the perfect job and turn down any offers that aren’t my dream.”
Your goal should be to just get your foot in the door at a good company, then work your way up. The idea is to get any job in your field that will start giving you experience and a paycheck. It’s more important to work for the right company than it is to have the perfect job title. Having a respectable company on your resume also gives you credibility and can gain you an advantage over outsiders because you could be promoted from within. Most experts agree that the number one piece of advice is don’t be picky. For example, if your dream job is TV reporter, you might start out as a production assistant, then advance to associate producer.
It’s Not Who You Know
“Networking is a waste of time.”
This is inherently false. The more people you meet, the more connections you make. EVERYTHING helps and it’s a much smaller world than you think it is. You’re going to run into the same people time and again, so making a great first impression and meeting as many people along the way will help you as your career moves along.
You Can Make It On Your Own
“I know everything/I don’t want to bother anyone so I don’t need a mentor.”
Mentors are the most valuable and underused tool of employment. There is a major disconnect between youth and experience. No amount of schooling compares to what you can learn from someone who has life experience. There are many ways to find a mentor. Start with professors from college. If they can’t help personally, maybe they have connections with people in the industry. Your parents are another resource. They might know someone in your field.
They’re All The Same
“I can just send out a one-size-fits-all cover letter with my resume.”
You should always go that extra step and try to customize every single interaction you have in business, even when applying for jobs. It takes more time, but it’s worth it. Research the company you want to work for, be sure to mention something they have done that’s noteworthy, or share an industry statistic. Setting Google alerts for companies that interest you will help you keep track of current news.
“Where I go to college will influence how successful I can be.”
Your story does not begin and end with the name of your school. Your success is about you and your ambition and willingness to learn new things. It also doesn’t matter how long you go to school, once you complete your undergraduate degree. A master’s degree could be a highly unnecessary, expensive step for the entertainment industry. Real experience is gained by working in the real world, not by more schooling. A post-graduate program should be a well-researched piece of a career puzzle, with an idea for how it will fit at the end. Before deciding to get a Masters you should be able to ask and answer the question “What do I want to do, and why is a Master degree necessary for that career step?