Alumni, students connect at Media Career Day
Forty-one media industry professionals, most of them Media School alumni, gave career advice to students as participants in Media Career Day on Friday.
More than 300 students attended the all-day, annual event, which consisted of panel discussions, expert workshops, networking sessions and informational interviews on careers across the industry.
By Chris Forrester
For Alanna Campbell, a feature producer and associate director at CBS sports, the thrill of sports media is in the reality.
Campbell, BAJ’06, spoke to Media School students on the Sports Media panel. Joining her were Bryan Carter, BA’82, a producer for BTN, Fox Sports and CBS Sports; Dan Overleese, BA’79, founder and CEO of Overleese & Associates; and Colleen Sullivan, BAJ’01, coordinating producer for Fox Sports South.
“Part of the draw for me with sports is that it’s the truest form of reality television,” Campbell said.
The joy and importance of making that spectacle accessible is what keeps her and the other panelists fully invested, even when they’re working overtime and on holidays. It’s what keeps their heads in the game, even through hardships.
Sports media is no easy business, said Overleese, who recalled once getting fired while on vacation.
But Overleese didn’t give up. He fell back on an ever-expanding network of peers and associates to look for more work. And he’s since founded Overleese & Associates, where he provides content consulting to other media makers.
There’s no easy way to break into the industry, Sullivan said. It just takes lots of hard work. Sullivan, who studied journalism and political science before going on to law school, dropped out to pursue freelance work in sports media. And through lots of hard work and making connections, she made it.
“I had to work Christmas Day when I was at Turner,” she said. “Because there were games.”
But all of the panelists agreed that their work is vital and rewarding. They do it because they love it.
“I don’t feel like when I’m going to work I’m doing a job,” Campbell said. “I’m just extending my love of stories.”
Inside the Agency: Advertising
By Kara Williams
The “Inside the Agency: Advertising” session gave students a glimpse into what working at an advertising agency like Young & Laramore is like.
The panel featured Brad Bobenmoyer, ‘99, vice president of marketing at Young & Laramore; Carolyn Hadlock, BFA’89, principal and executive creative director at Young & Laramore; and Shannon Quinn, BA’97, media director of EchoPoint Media, a division of Young & Laramore.
The panelists began by telling students about their own experiences and how they got the jobs they have today. Next, they led students through a case study, explaining the process and brand strategies that went into a campaign for a product.
From initial research and brainstorming to designing and creating the campaign to airing television ads and launching social media campaigns, the session gave students an inside look at what goes into creating a final product.
“If you think about the best brands in the world, you know exactly what they stand for,” Bobenmoyer said. “That’s our goal.”
Communication Research and Policy on Health, Science, Technology and Climate
By Lydia Gerike
New technology has changed how the public interacts with science, University of Calgary professor Edna Einsiedel, PhD’75, said during a communication research roundtable Friday.
“There is this more realistic picture of how science works in the public sphere,” Einsiedel said.
For science journalists, it can sometimes be a challenge to present information in a digital age. They also must deal with technology and learn how to adapt to the changing transmission of information.
Communication used to be more of a top-down approach, with scientists using media and journalism to present their research to consumers, Einsiedel said. Now there is a recognition that scientists’ personal attitudes and goals of different interest groups can affect on what is studied.
Citizen science has become more important, such as gamers using puzzles to help understand how proteins behave in HIV cases.
“They’re getting a lot of credit,” Einsiedel said. “They’re even among the authors of the publication.”
Climate change communication is one of the biggest examples of how science information is being distributed differently.
Video games, board games, art and even climate fiction — nicknamed “cli-fi”— are all being used as new, accessible ways to talk about the issue.
“So basically what we have now is a field of experimentation, if you will, with different forms of communication and different formats of communication so that you get to think about and maybe address an issue through different avenues,” Einsiedel said.
Careers in Television
By Austin Faulds
Persistence, adaptability and versatility are a few of the primary characteristics needed for a career in show business, according to the panelists in this session.
They were Paramount Network Television senior vice president Deva Newman, BA’90; “Carpool Karaoke” producer Eric Pankowski, BA’99; “SEAL Team” second assistant director Marla Hudnall, BA’00; animated television producer Katie Krentz, BA’02; and “Tin Man” creator Craig W. Van Sickle, BA’79. Van Sickle was honored later that day with The Media School’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
While all of the panelists have led successful careers thus far, not all of them had everything figured out by the time they graduated. Pankowski thought he would become the next David Letterman, but realized that wasn’t an easily attainable job. Krentz never had any internships, so she waited tables for a year post-graduation before she found a job. Hudnall didn’t network in college and relied entirely on her grades, so she also ended up waiting tables after college, as well as dancing outside in a squirrel mascot costume.
Van Sickle said he notices that many people want to be in the television business but don’t know exactly what they want to do in it. He advised students to find that niche before going into the field.
Networking is also important, they said. Pankowski said students should be using LinkedIn and Facebook, sending resumes, calling people in the field and setting up meetings with them.
Strong writing skills will also take a person far in the business, Newman said. Even in non-creative fields, she believes impactful writing is essential. For creatives, Van Sickle said a strong script is a writer’s “calling card.”
In order to get a start in the business, Pankowski advised students to start wherever they can, even if it’s just as a production assistant. If they do the best they can with that job and show interest in learning more, then they can climb the ranks.
“Don’t be picky,” he said. “Get the job.”
How to Launch a Podcast
By Chris Forrester
Eric Pankowski and Ward Roberts built a hit podcast from the ground up, learning as they went and amassing a lot of love and devotion, too.
Pankowski, BA’99, executive producer and president of JSA Olive Oil; and Roberts, BA’00, an actor, filmmaker and podcaster, met in a screenwriting class at IU.
“Didn’t do great,” Pankowski said.
Then they starred in a Shakespeare play together. Roberts’ wife shut the lights off on Pankowski during a big monologue.
“Didn’t do great,” Roberts said.
The two reconnected after they’d individually moved to Los Angeles, and quickly bonded over Indiana basketball. They ranted and raved and ran their mouths about it. So they decided, both out of a desire to share that love with others, and in a desperate bid to let out all of their sports fanaticism in controlled bursts rather than letting it consume their time, to start a podcast.
The pair started “Hoosier Hysterics” about a year ago. It was informal. They learned as they went. They recorded in a garage during halftime of big games. They promoted their content on Indiana message boards. When they interviewed A.J. Moye as a guest on one episode, they made a makeshift podcasting booth out of wrestling mats and folding chairs.
Pankowski and Roberts also paid close attention to what their listeners wanted. While some requested shorter, more digestible episodes, others clambered for more of the lengthy deep dives they’d been producing. So they stuck to their instincts and kept the episodes long.
“We never set out for a time frame,” Pankowski said. “We just start and go where it goes.”
Cinema Academy Expert Workshop
By Austin Faulds
Each student who attended “SEAL Team” second assistant director Marla Hudnall’s Q&A workshop’s received four documents that mapped out a typical day in Hudnall’s work life. They were various schedules for a single day of filming for the 12th episode of season three of the show.
As an assistant director, Hudnall, BA’00, said it is her job to make sure that the set is safe and sufficient, which requires juggling multiple logistics. She has to speak to dozens of people every day, make sure everyone is doing their jobs on time, manage any delays that may occur, be willing to change sets and locations in case of unexpected issues and much more.
This hard work seems to have paid off for her. Her television credits include “Dexter,” “GLOW,” “CSI: NY” and “Law and Order: LA.”
But it took her a while to land a job and get into the Director’s Guild of America. Because she had to work through college, she graduated without internship experience. During her first year out of college, she made about $9,000 waiting tables and dancing in a squirrel mascot outfit.
It’s important to make the most of any job, Hudnall said. She said waitressing gave her experience handling multiple projects on various fronts with a large clientele in order to achieve maximum satisfaction. As a babysitter, one is managing and working with people to help them work together in order to get through various tasks in the day.
A video of Hudnall’s workshop will be available on the Cinema Academy’s website at a later date.
Careers in Gaming
By Austin Faulds
The gaming industry is growing rapidly, but job availability is uncertain. Like many fields in media today, it is just as demanding as it is diverse. These were some of the main points discussed in this session.
The panel included ArtCraft producer Max Lancaster, BS’16; id Software user research analyst and doctoral candidate Jessica Tompkins; Regatta VR technical artist Devin Good, BS’19; and freelance gaming journalist Lauren Morton, BA’14.
The panelists said that before entering their careers, they never considered just how varied the possibilities in this occupation are. Tompkins said the job titles that usually come to mind are designer and producer. Morton said she never would have imagined it possible to make a living by writing about video games for magazines. She advised students to look at the jobs listed in the credits of their favorite games.
Freelancing has made it easier for Morton to stay in Indiana, but Tompkins and Lancaster both relocated to Texas — Dallas and Austin, respectively. Lancaster said this sudden change can be intimidating. He moved to Austin without having ever visited, and he was initially only offered a three-month internship, with the possibility of being hired once the internship was completed.
But he was willing to take a risk, which he said will likely be necessary for most students interested in the game industry.
During this stressful time, he advised students to keep their mental health in check by hanging out with friends and co-workers, and checking in on old friends.