Job forum in Philadelphia advises attendees ‘never give up’

By Rachel Hooper, Features Co-Editor

“How to get your first job in Television” read the brochure. The Career Forum sounded like it was going to be informative, exciting and worth attending. Many college students and some high school seniors from across the tri-state Philadelphia region heard what different careers in Broadcast Television involve.

This Career Forum was presented by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) and took place on February 9, 2008 at the all new, state of the art, CBS3 studios in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
There was an impressive number of speakers present representing the Philadelphia region, which is fourth largest television market in the country. To mention a few, the on-air news personalities included Jim Donovan, the consumer reporter at CBS3 and Terry Ruggles, anchor for NBC10 News. Other big names included station executives Jim DePury, news director at WPMT-TV Fox 43; John Mussoni, executive producer for CN8; Michelle Murray, senior news director for Comcast Sportsnet; and Mi?chelle Bradsher, executive producer at NBC10 News.

After an inspiring panel discus?sion, the college age television job seekers met with the forum leaders in small groups. Each student had the opportunity to have questions answered. A wealth of advice was offered by the very experienced professionals about the different jobs in the field of broadcast television.

Their advice was valuable to any college student seeking a future job in any field. Handouts includ?ed basic interviewing tips, resume guidelines and advice on searching for Internet job listing sites.

“Get an internship,” was the advice given by Eileen Matthews, executive director of the NATAS Mid-Atlantic Chapter; advice that was repeated by almost every speaker. “You can never have too many internships” was the general consensus. Internships are valuable experience and a chance to try out job skills.

Internships are also valuable for building a network of people who can help you find and land your first job. The second theme of advice was the importance of professional networking in your field. If your college limits the number of internships you can complete for credit, offer to volunteer. Almost every panelist reported they once had an internship or that internships had led to jobs.

Lou Presti, senior producer of New Jersey Network, encouraged students saying, “Develop a friendly relationship with someone who is currently working at a station that can inform you of job op?portunities.” Others added to this the importance of staying in touch with that person.

Jim Donovan, CBS3, feels it’s all about networking. He told the story of an intern he once had who followed up with him every few months, just to catch him up on how he was doing in school. The intern would stop by the CBS3 studios at Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks or whenever he was home from school.

Donovan said, “Never burn your bridges, connections mean everything” and went on to explain how later, he helped that intern get a job when the student graduated from college. Donovan made calls to other stations for the dedicated student journalist who was once just an intern.

“Set realistic expectations,” was advice given by Scott Rich, news consultant. “Know that you probably will have to start small, and work your way up. TV is no different than any other field. You don’t start out as a star in the major leagues. Start small, work hard, pay your dues and keep your eye on the ball.”

Matthews’s encouragement was the most important advice given: “Truly believe in yourself and your dream. If someone tells you that only five people will get a job, believe that you will be one of those five. Never give up.”