Connect the Dots at Cal State LA

November 12, 2019

By Kathleen Sanchez | Cal State LA College of Arts & Letters News Service

The College of Arts & Letters, with the support of the Art Directors Guild and the Cal State LA Career Center, hosted Connect the Dots: Professional Pathways into the Creative Industries. A day-long event where faculty, staff, and over 35 industry professionals came together to support more than 100 students in successfully forging their future. 

The day kicked off with College of Arts & Letters Dean Linda Essig welcoming everyone by sharing real life scenarios from her experiences in paving her professional path. “So here I was, Bachelor’s degree in one hand, and serving plates in the other. I learned in that moment that to work in my chosen sector of the creative industries, I would need to be RESILIENT,” said Dean Essig as she then added, “I also knew I needed to be PERSISTENT.” The dean then shared some insightful educational and industry statics and highlighted the creative industry jobs that aren’t usually obvious before going into a run-down of the day’s information-filled sessions.

Sean Gilroy of Shadow Animation after Nina O’Brien, Cal State LA Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Management

After the dean’s welcome, students had the opportunity to further develop their resumes or website portfolios. “I started off as a PA when I just graduated from college, so I’m the poster child for how to get in and to try and figure out how to move up and impress people quickly,” said Sean Gilroy of Shadow Animation after Nina O’Brien, Cal State LA Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Management, introduced him for the Resume Workshop. The theme of this session was “You Are Your Own Brand.” Communication Studies student Tamerlan Salykbayev said, “In the Resume Workshop, I was taught that everything successful in life is about making yourself a brand that you present to people. In my case, my brand is about good creative writing, critical and unique thinking.”

Web Portfolios are not only a beneficial approach for creative industry professionals to consider when applying for design jobs, they are essential. How does one make their web portfolio standout from others? Students were able to learn how to amp up their web portfolio style and strategy from Cal State LA Professor of Graphic Design Zachary Vernon and Cal State LA Professor of Animation Sarah Beeby. “When you think about the presentation of the context, look at how detailed this webpage is,” said Professor Vernon while displaying a best in practice web portfolio design. He continued, “from a design standpoint, and if I was an employer hiring this person for a job in design, I would hire this person because I can actually see how they would fit into my team.” 

Vic Clement, Financial Advisor & Advocacy Coach

When you’re starting out in the creative industry many opportunities will be freelance jobs in which you will have to initially manage your own money and be your own bookkeeper. “You will find out that working for yourself means that your income will be inconsistent. You’re going to be involved in projects that are going to drive a lot of money for you and then you’re going to have barren days,” said Vic Clement, Financial Advisor & Advocacy Coach, during his financial literacy workshop; students were busy taking notes. “I wanted to know more of the ins and outs of paperwork for freelancers, what I can write off and how or who to go to.…This is a gray area for film students who will be going into freelance work that doesn't get taught at school,” said Television, Film, and Media Studies student Brittney De Leon-Reyes. 

Meet the Pros Roundtables

Following the workshops students connected with networking coaches while enjoying lunch to warm up for the “Meet the Pros” Roundtables, sponsored by the Art Directors Guild. This session gave students the opportunity to: practice networking skills; ask questions about jobs in specific industries; see that career paths and success can be direct or indirect, traditional or non-traditional, planned or unexpected; and that there are possibilities in fields about which they may not have even been aware.

Alumni panel in the Golden Eagle Ballroom

After “Meet the Pros” everyone gathered into one ballroom for the Alumni Panel with Juan Donis, Vice President & Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant at City National Bank, Tery Lopez, Director of Inclusion and Equity for the Writers Guild of America West, and John Lynch, Head of Production at Amazon Studios. “Find what your superpower is and pitch that all you can, whether it be social media, being bilingual…whatever it might be that is your superpower and that’s what’s really going to help you, so start to hone in on what you think that superpower might be,” said TVFM alumna Tery Lopez when asked what advice she would give to new professionals in the creative industries. 

The day ended with a lively networking reception on the Golden Eagle Patio where everyone continued to “Connect the Dots.” “Networking is a valuable skill for success in the creative industry. Finding the career that I want may not be easy to obtain in media and entertainment. Having connections with people in the industry can give me a chance to work in a career I enjoy. Even after I obtain the career I can maintain and develop relationships to enlarge my network,” said Communication Studies student Daylen Roberson when asked why networking is a valuable skill for being successful in our future endeavors. Roberson concluded, “I would definitely attend another event like this because I want to know more and there were careers mentioned that I did not know about attending the event. I look forward to seeing what other careers are out there in the creative industry for me.” 

View photos from the day on the College of Arts & Letters Facebook page and check out #CTDatCalStateLA from some social highlights. 

Photos: Top, students at the networking reception on the Golden Eagle Ballroom patio. Second L-R, Sean Gilroy, Shadow Animation, Nina O’Brien, Cal State LA Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Management. Third, students taking notes during Vic Clement’s workshop. Fourth, Art Directors Guild roundtable at the Meet the Pros session. Bottom L-R, student audience listening to the Alumni Panel moderated by Dean Linda Essig (L), Juan Donis, Tery Lopez, John Lynch. (Credit: Kathleen Sanchez/Cal State LA College of Arts & Letters)

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