Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Life of a Mentee Part 5

Getting your dream job is all about whom you know—plus initiative, timing, hard work and luck. Of course talent helps too. But having someone in your corner can influence where your career ultimately leads you. Over the past two years, I immersed myself in “getting ahead” with the help of several other people.

Perhaps the biggest help thus far has been my mentor, Joel. (SOC alum Joel Goldberg is senior vice president of station operations at WCSB, the network’s New York City affiliate.) Not only has he given me great advice, he has also introduced me to people in the sports journalism industry. Tim McHugh of Comcast SportsNet is one of them. We talked about the industry for a half hour, he asked me to come in for an interview, and now I freelance part-time for Comcast SportsNet.

Before I had a mentor, I had to make connections on my own. My first attempt to launch my career in sports journalism was a flurry of e-mails that asked sports radio hosts around the country for advice. Andy Pollin, who works for DC’s Sportstalk 980, told me that the station might have summer internship openings, but I would need to e-mail the head of the station to see what was available.

That was in March, 2006 and there were not many internships left. I called 980’s programming director twice a day, for two weeks, from London. After finally reaching the assistant programming director, I got an internship. When it was over, I was able to hang on and get a job. If you work hard and people in the organization like you, you will go far and people will help you in the future. However connections will only take you so far, you need to prove yourself on the job.

With the addition of 980 to my resume and the help of an AU alumnus who works for the Washington Redskins, I was able to get an internship this semester with the ‘Skins. Now, before I walk across the stage on May 13th, I will have worked for two big names in the sports world – putting me ahead of many people with whom I will compete for future jobs.

I am currently working for three great organizations: Comcast SportsNet, The Washington Redskins, and Sportstalk 980. Without the contacts that I got from work or from those who are willing to help a fellow Eagle, I would not feel as confident of my future as I do now. While contacts help immensely, the old adage that “knowing someone will get you in the door, hard work will keep you there” is as true today as it ever was.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Life of A Mentee Part 4

Life of a Mentee 4

After talking with Joel and Josh for a few weeks, I started to compile a list of tips for making an audition tape. These tips are great for people who are interested in the broadcast field because Joel and Josh represent completely different sides of the story. To put it simply, Josh makes the tapes, and Joel reviews them. With that in mind, here are some tips for a great tape:

  1. The first 30 seconds are crucial. There are several other people gunning for the same job as you. When Josh applied to his first job as a weekend sports anchor in Virginia, there were 350 other applicants for the same position. If you want to be noticed, your tape needs to grab the viewer’s attention right from the beginning. If it does, the viewer will have an incentive to watch the rest of it.

  1. Variety is key. Make sure your tape reflects the job you apply for. Make sure you have shots of you in the field, at the desk and wherever else you can film. Here you need to show versatility, whether it’s reading off a prompter or memorizing your copy during a remote. For example, if you want to go into sports casting, make sure you have clips of yourself giving game highlights.

  1. Fed-Ex everything. To be sure that your tape reaches the person it needs to, use Fed-Ex or similar service. In doing this, you not only get a signature to prove the tape was received, you also show how much you want the job by paying a little extra for postage. If you send the tape via regular mail, it may not reach the person you intended and will end up in a dusty corner with other forgotten tapes.

  1. Make the tape stand out. Dress up the tape’s packaging to make it eye-catching and appealing. The person looking at it might notice yours first because of what you did to the tape itself.

So, there are some tips for making a great tape. More on my life as a mentee is coming soon. Until then, so long.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Life of a Mentee, Part 3

On Tuesday, while out at Redskins Park, I got a call from Joel. This time we talked about where I saw myself going in the world of sports journalism. I asked Joel questions about what people look for in tapes, how to send them out to stations, and how to put together a tape that will catch the eye of employers. Joel answered all my questions, not only as a mentor, but as someone who has made these kinds of decisions before. He gave me lots of great advice on all my questions and said he would look at my tape once I put it together.

As if this wasn’t enough, Joel e-mailed me later that day and gave me the contact number of a friend of his who works for Comcast SportsNet here in Washington. This contact would be able to spend more time talking to me about the business of television journalism. Thanks to the Mentoring program, I’m really able to expand my knowledge and learn more about the media world. This will allow me to apply for more jobs in diverse fields in the coming weeks.

Next week Josh is going to help me put my tape together and he has already given me lots of advice on how to shoot it and what it needs. With all the help, and criticism, I receive from Josh and Joel, I hope to have a great tape to send out to potential employers.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Life of a Mentee Part 2

Welcome back, I’ve got exciting news. After a few days of playing e-mail tag, I spoke to my mentor, Joel for the first time. It was very exciting to finally make contact with the person who I had worked so hard to be able to talk to. We weren’t able to talk for long, I had to go to class, but it was a basic getting to know you talk. He actually vacations near where I live in upstate New York. While we didn’t talk much about me or my future, I wanted to get a sense of where he comes from.

He told me about going to AU and from there working at the NBC station down the road, working for the George Michael Sports Machine and produced it a few years out of college. He has covered four Olympics, sumo wrestling in Japan, and events all over the world.

Now while he is more involved in the day-to-day operations of WCBS in New York City, his experience is going to be very helpful when it comes to what I want to do. Although he’s had limited on-air experience (although he did call the longest NCAA soccer game in history, AU’s loss to UCLA in the national championship in the 1980’s) he knows what he’s doing in television, a field I’m thinking about going into.

Thanks to my internship at the Redskins and seeing television works, I’ve decided not to just solely focus on radio, and instead expand my options to include TV. Josh and I have talked about putting together a tape of my work to send out to stations across the country, and with Josh’s on-air experience combined with Joel’s knowledge of the industry, I should have a big advantage when it comes to getting a job when I graduate in May.

Well that’s it for this blog entry, I’ll be talking to Joel on Tuesday when he gets back from the Super Bowl. Joel hass gone to 14 but this will be the first one he’s just watch, not working like he usually does. I’ll talk to you then.

Life of a Mentee Part 1

Since 2002, the School of Communication has organized the Alumni-Student Mentoring Program. The program matches up students with mentors who work in the field that the students want to go into as soon as they graduate. The mentorship program allows students to have one on one access to someone working in their field to talk to about their resumes, internships and the industry itself. The program started out with only 34 matches, but this year’s program now has nearly 80 students and mentors involved, including me.

My name is Jordan Beane, I’m a senior here in the School of Communication, and after hearing about the program through the grapevine for the past few years, I’m very excited that I’m now a part of it. However, it wasn’t easy to get in. The application process was rigorous, as I had to include my resume, a biography, a writing sample, as well as a recommendation from an SOC faculty member.

Luckily I was accepted along with 75 other people. I was extremely excited to find out who my mentor is. My mentor is Joel Goldberg, Senior Vice President of Station Operations at WCBS, CBS’ New York City affiliate. While on the surface it didn’t seem to be the perfect match, as I read his biography I realized that he was perfect for me.

I plan on going into the field of sports broadcasting, the field that Joel came out of earlier in his career. In his past he produced the nationally syndicated George Michael’s Sports Machine, as well as covering four Olympics for NBC before he moved on to CBS.

As someone who’s graduating in a matter of months, the ability to talk to someone who’s done what I want to do will be an invaluable resource. Joel is going to be a big help, looking at the media package I’ll be sending out to potential employers, advice on the sports communication industry, and just someone out there who I know in the field.

Besides having Joel in my corner, I also have “unofficial” mentor at my current internship with the Washington Redskins. Josh Chernikoff, one of the anchors on Washington Redskins.com TV, who’s a member of the Alumni-Student Mentoring Committee plus a mentor himself, got me my internship with the ‘Skins. He’s been a great help to me at Redskins Park and the three days a week I spend there are awesome. Working with one of the best organizations in sports is an unreal experience, and I’ll talk about it more as my internship progresses.

The main reason I started this blog is so that people out there know what the SOC Alumni-Student Mentoring Program is all about. While I’ve been hearing about it for over three years now, I was shocked at the meeting at which we received our mentors to see so few undergrads there. It seems to me that this program has such value for SOC undergrads that someone should write about it so that people everywhere will see how it works. I hope this blog will be interesting and informative, and that both potential mentors and mentees will see what a difference it can make.