SF Bay Area

Professional Perspectives

From interview tips to resume don’ts, local media panel offers COM students detailed job-hunting advice 

By Cristina Schreil

With the end of the spring semester coming into view, students at the School of Communications & Media Technologies (COM) gathered Tuesday, April 16 for a forward-looking event: lessons on exactly what it takes to land a job or internship.

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Hosts Dante Williams and Maria Meza. Photo by Mateo Tayamen.

Pulling together a panel of experts in the local broadcast and media industry, the fireside chat-style talk offered a sense of what it’s like to work for major outlets like NBC Bay Area and Facebook—plus plenty of tips on the job-hunting and application process.

COM students Maria Meza and Dante Williams moderated the discussion. They touched on everything from interview and resume advice to presenting on social media to maximizing time at the Academy to jumpstart a dream career.

Speakers were Academy COM alumnus Matt Cesca (who graduated in 2016); Zack Todero, production manager at Pac-12 Networks; Steve Shlisky, the local chapter president for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; Gian Abella, broadcast audio engineer at NBC Sports Bay Area; and COM student Talia Thompson, an intern at NBC Sports Bay Area.

A recurring theme was tenacity: panelists repeatedly encouraged students to be proactive and assertive about gaining experience before graduating. They reinforced the value of being versatile, cultivating as many skills as possible. The discussion was less a dive into the day-to-day of each speaker’s job, but more a one-stop shop for job-hunting advice; each offered detailed insights on how employers view and select applicants, including what makes them toss an application out.

They all agreed that hands-on experience is a major plus on a resume.

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(L-R) Academy COM 2016 alumnus Matt Cesca; Zack Todero, production manager at Pac-12 Networks; Steve Shlisky, the local chapter president for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; Gian Abella, broadcast audio engineer at NBC Sports Bay Area; and COM student Talia Thompson, an intern at NBC Sports Bay Area. Photo by Mateo Tayamen.

“It just comes down to experience,” said Todero. “We want people who are students who are striving to be involved as much as they can in television production. We get a lot of resumes for a lot of our entry-level positions. And if you want to be in TV production, we want people who have had that hands-on experience.” He said that students should expect recruiters to ask about this immediately: “Are you comfortable operating this type of camera? Do you know how to do graphics?”

“What I would say is the most valuable stuff that I learned here at the Academy of Art was just being in a live production environment,” said Cesca, an event operations supervisor at FNTECH onsite at Facebook. He believes he had a leg up on others without direct experience. Cesca also advised students to not embellish on their resumes. Clear goals are also key; not having a lucid vision of a dream career can be a red flag, he said.

Abella added that taking initiative stands out. “What I really look for are what classes are you taking? What outside work are you doing as well?”

Meza and Williams also asked about finer details on interviews and networking strategies. Everyone offered ways to appear as professional as possible: having a sleek, clear resume, showing up to the interview already having researching the company and role, and being smart about email etiquette and social media presence.

“In this business, being on time is really, really important. If I have a crew and somebody shows up late, I don’t hire them again,” Shlisky began. “In an interview, I look for really good eye contact … That’s a really difficult thing, especially if you haven’t done interviews before, to keep present and keep eye contact.”

Thompson naturally offered a different perspective throughout the talk. She described the high standards she encountered throughout the application and hiring process. “They wanted us to know our sports. They don’t have time to teach the interns a base hit or what a free throw is, what a touch down is,” she said. Thompson also stressed to her fellow Academy students in the audience how vital it is to job hunt while still in school.

In summarizing, Cesca perhaps said it best: “Go above and beyond and strive to be your best self.”

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