AMC students face unique job-search challenges

Like all graduates, music, theatre and cinema and television arts majors face the challenging task of job searching.

But for these students, the search can be especially daunting, due to the intense competition and unique nature of these fields.

Success in the entertainment industry depends largely upon a student’s networking and financial management skills, said Robert Gustafson, director for the Entertainment Industry Institute at CSUN.

“In the entertainment industry, skills have little to do with being a good student,” Gustafson said. “Financial skills have to do with, how well do you handle being unemployed?”

According to the Entertainment Economy Institute, in 2002, the number of available jobs in the entertainment establishment was 294,183. There were 397,983 workers in the entertainment industry, and the average earning in all sectors was about $66,332.

The film and television industries look for young people who are enthusiastic and interested in working hard, said John Schultheiss, chair of the C.T.V.A. Department.

“(It) comes down to discipline,” Schultheiss said. “(The) more driven and motivated (students) are the ones who make it.”

Theatre majors face the difficult task of finding acting jobs in a highly competitive industry, said William Taylor, theatre manager in CSUN’s Theatre Department.

“First, you’ve got to be talented and thoroughly committed,” he said. “Second, you better be the best (at CSUN), so you can compete in the real world.”

A theatre major, he said, can choose from several different avenues in the theatre industry. Students can become actors, playwrights and costume, scene, production, lighting or theme park designers.

“People usually think of theatre (professionals) as just (including) actors,” Taylor said.

The Music Department offers a mandatory course, Your Career in Music and Beyond, which informs students about the career options available in music after graduation, said Lea Clara, CSUN music adviser.

“Most music majors have already performed and have a pretty good idea about what they will do (after graduation),” Clara said.

Still, administrators in the Music, Theatre and C.T.V.A. Departments all said the key to success in these industries is having excellent communication skills.

The departments said they urge students to go to CSUN’s Career Center regularly to check for new job postings, and to work closely with advisers, who will help them find jobs in their fields of study.

“If you write well and speak well, an employer will want to hire you,” said Rose Marie Barksdale, career counselor at the Career Center.

Finding jobs in the music, theatre, film and television industries is challenging and difficult, but not hopeless, Barksdale said.

“Make sure this (career) is where your passion is,” Barksdale said. “It’s about who you know and who knows you.”

The Career Center receives job listings every week from Nickelodeon and Disney about technical jobs in the film and television industries. Few students go to the Career Center to view the new jobs posted, she said.

Barksdale said she encourages music, theatre and C.T.V.A. majors to seek internships to give them hands-on experience.

Music, theatre and C.T.V.A. all offer internship programs for students who have senior standing. Music and C.T.V.A. require students to enroll in internships during their senior years.

CSUN’s music industry option features a mandatory six-unit internship, through which many music majors have successfully been hired by the companies they intern for, Clara said.

Ann Miranda, senior music industry major and executive producer of music industry studies, said the company she is currently working for, Sestwide, hired her after she completed her internship with them. She said she is working in artist management, and co-manages bands.

“(Internships are) an opportunity for growth,” Miranda said.

Joanna Finchum, senior music industry major and music industry studies publicity director, said she plans to intern in the San Francisco Bay area over the summer. She said she hopes to use her internship as a way to meet people in the music industry and advance her career.

“Eventually, I want to move to Nashville, Tenn., where the Christian music industry is big,” Finchum said. “I want to sing and write music.”

Workplace Hollywood is an organization that helps C.T.V.A. majors seeking jobs in the film industry search for internships, Gustafson said.

Most film and television companies will not hire individuals who have not previously worked as interns, Gustafson said. Film and television companies want people who already have a strong work ethic, he said.

Matt Hayes, senior C.T.V.A. major, said that through internships, individuals can network and acquire contact information. As a C.T.V.A. major, he said he had to work as an intern for credit in order to graduate.

After completing his internship, Hayes said he was not hired by the company he interned for, and is still searching for a job. He said he is worried about not having a job lined up once he graduates.

“Everyone is worried once (they) graduate,” Hayes said. “What do you do with the education you just got?”