By Dani Coronado, NYU Tisch, Class of 2023
Someone once told me that they could trace every single job they’ve ever gotten back to the first two people they volunteered for in the entertainment industry. They started as an assistant on a mutual friend’s indie film, and from there, the director got them another job. From that next job, the producer got them another. And another. And another. So on, and so forth.
Of course, getting jobs from others isn’t all that networking is (it’s nice when it happens though), but I love this woman’s story because it provided me with the framework to think of networking as she did; it wasn’t so much her wanting to get something from someone else, but it was her desires to learn, help out, and meet people that ultimately drove her to the successful career she had today.
It’s true that networking is important, and we hear it all the time at NYU — especially if you’re in Tisch and/or wanting to work in the entertainment industry like me. I’m a Collaborative Arts major, an international student, and an aspiring Showrunner; I have a long way to go.
Last Fall, I took a leave of absence from NYU, and I decided to use this time to gain more experience working and learning about the film and television industry. I very quickly fell into it and somehow landed jobs working on shows like “Batwoman” and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” despite my lack of experience. I am by no means a networking master, but I’ve learned a lot since taking that time off, so I’d like to share my top three takeaways:
- People make networking sound overwhelming, and many are quick to say that they are bad at it (which in turn, might make you feel the same way). While it definitely can be a little anxiety-inducing or frightening to send that first email or message, it’s better to frame your projected outcome as trying to learn from whoever you’re reaching out to, rather than thinking about what you want out of that relationship. Find some common ground, and take in whatever they offer, whether that be their life story, advice, or shared resources. At the same time, however, don’t feel pressured to stay in touch or do what they tell you if you don’t see it to be worthwhile. Everyone’s paths are different, and you can decide what decisions make the most sense for you.
- Taking risks to network is okay! Especially if you’re doing it now through social media, LinkedIn, Violet Network, etc. (Use your own discretion as of course, your approach may vary depending on your industry and who you’re trying to reach.) If you’re worried about how someone might respond to your email or message, know that most of the time, people do really want to help you. They’ve been in your shoes before, and people truly do love sharing about themselves. Honestly, the worst that could happen is that you won’t get an answer from them. I think, in that case, it’s always worth at least trying to reach out to someone.
- Lastly, networking can be a lot easier than it seems, and it can be done in a lot of ways. You can create your own ways to network and are not limited to solely the opportunities you’re given or the events you’re invited to. LinkedIn, Violet Network, and school events are great, but on top of that, join some Facebook groups. Shoot a DM to someone you think you’d like to hear from. Join some Clubhouse rooms. If a guest speaker in your class offers their email, send them one; even if it’s just to say thank you. And also… connect with your classmates and other students. They’re likely on the same page as you, and as you all work your way up to obtaining your future dream jobs, it would be great to keep in touch. They can be your friends, and part of your network too.
I hope that this blog post has helped or even inspired you. You’ve got this, and I wish you all the best on your journey!