In this series, recent grads share their journey to landing that first job out of college. After years of studying and working toward a degree, these Panthers’ hard work paid off. Now they’re paying it forward by letting you know how they did it.
Name: William Neal
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Degree/major: Bachelor’s in Communications, Digital Media, 2017
Where are you working? Title? Viacom International Media Networks, Production Assistant at Nickelodeon
How did you get your job? I read about the intern opportunity through the Department of Journalism + Media internship and scholarship email feed, known as “The SHIP,” and applied. After graduation, I was hired as a full-time production assistant.
What was your greatest fear going into your first job? My biggest fear was going into the industry without any previous professional production experience. I was scared that my lack of experience would set me apart from other interns in a negative way.
What surprised you the most about your first job? I was surprised at how intense production can be, especially when filming is done in-studio. The hours can be very long and the work is be very fast-paced – it’s not your average a 9 to 5 job. Thinking on your feet is a must, and no task is unimportant when the day’s outlook can change minute by minute.
What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process? Try your best to get into the industry via an internship. Entertainment production is an extremely competitive field, and starting as an intern is an advantage few others have. An internship is also one of the best ways to open the door to other networking and job opportunities.
What does a day on the job look like? It’s hard to say since the nature of the job can differ so greatly depending on the needs of the studio and what phase of production we’re in. Pre-production consists of creating and/or organizing developmental materials such as creative presentations and script versions. During principal photography, tasks can range from acquiring releases for filming to management of talent needs and planning events within a given budget. Post-production mostly deals with the final delivery of episodes to the network and making sure all the production materials and documents are organized and saved to complete wrap.
How does your job connect back to your coursework? I developed skills during my studies that are applicable to any industry, such as how to stay organized, meet deadlines and maintain a diplomatic and professional relationship with different personalities and parties. However, nothing can prepare you better for production than actually experiencing it in the real world.
How has your transition from school to work been? How do you balance your time? After I graduated and started working full-time, I quickly noticed how different the pacing of my work-life balance was. In production, work hours can fluctuate significantly from week to week whereas school has a more formulaic pacing. It’s very important, no matter what you do for a living, to organize your time in a way that works for you. You will inevitably be bombarded and overwhelmed – it happens to everyone, but it will be up to you to figure out how to deal with it in the most efficient way possible.
What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far? By far, it’s been the opportunity to sit in the front row seat observing the process of how television is made from start to finish. Learning from the writers, directors, producers, set designers, digital artists, editors and the rest of the crew is such a blessing. Seeing my name in the credits for the first time was probably the highlight of it all!