Module 69

      

Updated: 02/20/2017

 

Part Imodule 69

  

Careers

 

We've divided this topic into two parts.

In this part we'll discuss:

red dot The Future Looks Bright
red dot Elements of professional success
red dot On-camera vs. behind-the-camera jobs
red dot A college degree -- is it worth it?
red dot Translating education into dollars and cents
red dot Broadcasting schools

In Part II we'll discuss:

red dot Internships
red dot Résumés and Cover Letters
red dot The Résumé Reel
red dot Video Awards
red dot Women In Broadcasting
red dot Looking For Work In All the Right Places
red dot Television Organizations
red dot Handling the Personal Interview
red dot The Five Knockout Factors
red dot The Ability to Effectively Communicate

The Future Looks Bright

No longer are most programs viewed on a family TV set in the middle of the loving room. Programming is now viewed on a variety of personal devices and in a variety of locations. This means that there is a demand for many more programming options.  Hence, more jobs have opened up.

What does it take to launch a successful career in a competitive field like broadcast television?

If I can speak personally for a moment, I have been involved in television for several decades -- as an announcer and so-called TV personality, as a producer-director of thousands of hours of TV programming, and as a university professor.

In the latter capacity I watched some of my students work up through the ranks to become producers of TV series and feature-length films.

Others found the going too rough, abandoned their goals, and found employment elsewhere.

What made the difference? Ten things.

1. Motivation In any competitive field you must really want to make it.

This type of motivation does not waver from week-to-week or month-to-month, but is consistent and single-minded. In short, you must stay focused on your goal. 

2. Being a self-starter Some people wait until someone tells them what to do before getting started. If you do you may find that others pass you by when they see what needs to be done and set out to do it. Self-starters can quickly find themselves in leadership positions.

3. Personality Although admittedly a vague term, it encompasses several things. First, since television is a collaborative effort, it requires an ability to work with others to accomplish your goals.

Included in this category is attitude. In this context we're definitely not talking about someone who "has an attitude."  Quite the opposite. 

We're talking about the general demeanor of individuals, how they accept assignments, whether they are pleasant to work with, and how they take suggestions or criticism.

There is often considerable pressure in TV production and thin-skinned individuals who can't detach themselves from their work and take constructive criticism are in for a bumpy ride.

4. Knowledge and skills Producers and directors look for individuals who knowledge and skills know how to solve problems on their own, how to use the technology to its best advantage, and who can be relied upon to "make it work."

Excuses for not getting the job done right and on time are generally viewed as an admission of failure.

5. Creativity Although we've been trying to define this for centuries, it involves so-called thinking "outside the box," looking at things in new ways and getting your audience to see and experience things from a fresh, engaging perspective.

The more thoroughly you understand the television medium the better chance you will have for using it in interesting, creative ways.

6. Willingness to sacrifice for your goals In highly competitive fields the supply of job applicants exceeds the number of job openings. For starting positions this means that employers may offer low starting salaries.

Those who stick it out and "pay their dues" can end up working in a field that is exciting and satisfying.

For many people, doing something they enjoy throughout their lives is more important than making more money in a job they end up dreading to face each day.

For those whose honed skills are in demand, the financial rewards can eventually be very great.

More than one top celebrity has said in effect, "My goal was never to become rich or famous, it was simply to become the best I could. Wealth and fame followed."

If your main goal is to have a predictable, 9-to-5 job with optimum stability, the field of broadcast television will probably not be a good choice.

There can be much uncertainty in the field, and the hours you may have to put in can take a toll on social and family life.

In doing documentary work, for example, you may be away from home for days or weeks at a time. In news, you may be called out on a story at any hour of the day or night. As we've previously noted, some areas of news, such as being a foreign correspondent, can even be dangerous.

7. An aptitude for working with words and pictures Successful television writers, directors, and artists have an aptitude for images and an ability to visualize their ideas.

Although television is largely visual, it's still word-based. You have to be able to clearly communicate ideas to sponsors, cast, and crew in the form of proposals, scripts, and instructions.

The ability to effectively write and communicate is directly related to success.

8. Reliability and an ability to meet deadlines If you can't be relied upon to get the job done within the assigned time, your chances of getting future assignments will rapidly diminish -- and eventually disappear.

9. Health and adjustment Although you might wonder what this is doing in recommendations for success, health and adjustment are, in fact, critical to your energy, motivation and success.

This means among other things you maintain a balance between work and play.  An excess of either, as tempting as it may be at times, will eventually hamper success.

10. Lifelong learning  If you assume that when you get out of school you will know all you need to for lifelong success, here's a news flash: that's not the way it works.

Although formal education is useful and it may enable you to "get in the door," most students say that it's only when they come face-to-face with on-the-job experiences that they really start learning about their profession.

And, it doesn't end here.

The electronic media change rapidly. It's the people who keep up with developments as reported by newspapers, the Internet, and "the trades"video trade magazines (professional magazines and journals; see photo) that are in the best position to take advantage of the latest developments.

Knowing how to make best use the latest computer programs and technology can give you an important competitive advantage.

Successful news people, for example,  tend to be "news addicts" -- constantly reading about current events.

If reading about developments in your field and "being in the know" doesn't interest you, you should question your interest in broadcasting.

 

On-Camera vs. Behind-the-Camera

It seems as if the majority of students who become interested in television as a career want to be seen on camera.

But the majority of jobs are behind the camera.

This means that on-camera jobs tend to be extremely competitive and far more difficult to get than production (behind-the-camera) jobs.

Most on-camera jobs are in news. It's not unusual for a news director or personnel manager in a major market (geographic area) to get dozens of resumes a week for an advertised and even an unadvertised on-camera  position.

Even small market stations that pay low salaries receive many applications from people who want to gain experience in the hope that can later move to larger market.

Depending on the station and the union restrictions, it's sometimes possible to start behind the camera and then move on to an on-camera position. Small stations can provide this opportunity.

More than one behind-the-camera person, including a female news anchor at a major network station in Los Angeles, stared out this way.

Whatever your goal, it's best to have an alternative plan -- in other words, to prepare for a job in a secondary area. You may have to rely on this to pay the bills while you are waiting for the kind of job you want.

" In 2011, employment for Americans with college degrees increased by 521,000.

For those who had only a high school education employment decreased by 318,000."

-USA Today

 

A College Education

With today's cost of a college education, there has been much debate as to whether a college degree is worth the time and money involved. ( This article discusses this.)

If you have to go into debt paying for a college degree and you will face years paying back loans, it may not be worth it -- at least in terms of dollars and cents.

Graduated!Although those who question "whether it's worth it" have some good arguments, there is little doubt that a college degree is necessary to "get you in the door" for most desirable jobs.

Plus, without a degree your chances for promotion, especially to a supervisory capacity, will be limited. 

Although some successful people brag that they made it without a degree, keep in mind it was much easier a few decades ago when they probably got their start. 

Scholarships and Awards

Most colleges provide financial assistance which can cover a large part of college costs. Since amounts vary and depend on need and qualifications, you'll need to invest time researching financial aid for whatever schools you are interested in.

You may find some helpful information on college scholarships, awards, etc., at the - Broadcast Education Association Web Page.

College scholarships start at about $1,500 and in many cases go much higher. Don't assume that if you don't have a 4.0 GPA you don't have a chance. Extracurricular activities and unrelated outside work may figure heavily into your eligibility.

What should you major in while in college?

It certainly helps to major in a field that will directly apply to your aspirations: Telecommunications, Broadcasting, TV Production, Broadcast News, etc.

Education In

Dollars and Cents

Keep in mind that there is a strong relationship between education and lifetime income.  Statistics indicate that this relationship is growing stronger with each passing year.  Graduation Ring

In 1979, the average college graduate made 38 percent more than the average high school graduate. Today, the average college graduate makes about 80 percent more.

" Pay for college graduates has risen 15.7 percent over the past 32 years (after adjustment for inflation) while the income of a worker without a high school diploma dropped by 25.7 percent during the same period."

The New York Times, 2/26/2012

Looking at this another way, on average, the lifetime income difference between a high-school graduate and college graduate is now more than four-million dollars.

However, we would be remiss in not mentioning that the communication field is one of the lowest paying, with starting salaries less than half of what it is in some fields. This is something to consider before going into debt for a college education. 

Broadcasting Schools

The Internet has numerous "Top Ten" lists for schools of broadcasting.  However, be aware that some of these have commercial tie-ins and can be biased.

You should also be aware that since colleges are, themselves, operating in a very competitive arena, they sometimes "fudge" success and graduation statistics to get higher national rankings.

Not only that but employers know that to attract and retain students, especially at some private schools, colleges have been "watering down" academic rigor.

Colleges with strong religious views or missions fall into this category and may be viewed with reservations by employers.

When choosing a college, look for accreditation, the number and types of courses, the school or division's enrollment, the number and quality of faulty, the size of classes and labs, and, of course, the broadcast equipment and studio facilities. In order to be accredited a school must meet certain standards in these areas.

The only agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to accredit broadcasting and mass communications schools is the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

In addition, the United States has six associated regional accrediting agencies.

Although there are broadcasting schools that do not meet accreditation standards (some with large advertising budgets), the most academically respected schools are accredited.

Impressive facilities won't do you much good if the labs are too big to give you regular hands-on experience, so the size of both classes and labs should be considered.

Many schools include on-air experience through school-owned radio and TV stations. For example, the University of Florida, where the author taught before moving to California, has several on-air stations with large local audiences.

You should visit the school you are seriously considering and look at the campus and facilities and talk to some of the students.

Sometimes the admissions office will set up an appointment with professors and even let you sit in on a class or two.

If you can talk to instructors, ask them about their professional experience in the field.

More and more people with an interest in broadcasting are going on for graduate degrees. A few years ago US News and World Report listed the top universities for graduate work in broadcasting. They are In rank order:

1. Syracuse University in New York (Newhouse School of Communication)
2. University of Florida, Gainesville
3. University of Missouri, Columbia
4. University of Texas, Austin
5. Northwestern University, New York (Medill)
6. Indiana State University
7. Columbia University, New York
8. Ohio University (Scripps)
9. University of Wisconsin, Madison
10. University of Southern California
11. University of Georgia
12. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
13. Temple University, Pennsylvania (tied with)
13. University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Even at the undergraduate level these universities represent some of the most respected schools for pursuing a bachelor's degree in telecommunications (radio-TV, broadcasting).

Although national rankings are important, since you may spend four years and quite a bit of money at what ever college you choose, investing travel expenses to check out the campus, facilities and faculty is a small investment.

Telecommunications employers also hire people with advanced degrees in related areas. Two possibilities are a MBA (Masters in Business) or a law degree specializing in Communication Law.

- Here is some additional information on selecting a college. Plus, this article on -  State vs. Private Universities may surprise you.

If you don't think you can afford college, you should check out red dot this guide to reasonably priced colleges.

You may be surprised to learn that at many campus schools a large part -- sometimes even the majority -- of the tuition you pay goes toward supporting athletics and not academics.

Although athletic programs and a winning football team may be important to a university's statute, they may have much less to do with the education they can provide.  

 

On-line Schools

In recent years on-line schools have grown in popularity and respectability. These programs let you work from home and save the ever-increasing cost of room and board at a college or university campus. Even so, many are associated with major universities.

red dot This link will take you to a site that lists dozens of options including general information on on-line schools.

 

Careers in Broadcast Journalism

college majors for tv news A survey of new hires in TV news found that the vast majority (94%) majored in either broadcast news or journalism/mass communication.

 
Although the percentage would be lower in other areas of TV, majoring in the field at least shows a prospective employer that you have been preparing to go into this field and that it wasn't just a last-minute decision.

Choosing a College Minor

For a college minor for your broadcast degree you might consider Political Science or Sociology.

If you eventually want to end up as a producer-director or manager, consider a minor in Business or Management. A minor in Psychology or Social Psychology would be helpful in any of these areas.

In Part II of this topic we'll discuss some of the most important aspects of getting a job: internships, resumes, finding openings, handling job interviews and "five knockout factors" that can sink your chances of landing and holding on to a job.

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