Students gather for entertainment industry career day focused on television, radio jobs

Kathryn Cassavell

Students from many different Philadelphia-area colleges gathered for the 2009 Broadcast and Entertainment Industry Career Day in Driscoll Hall Auditorium on Nov. 14.

The event was hosted by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a national labor union representing over 70,000 workers in the entertainment industry.

Dan Hunt, vice president of AFTRA and a communication professor at Villanova, was in charge of organizing the event.

Hunt came up with the idea last year to bring AFTRA and Villanova together. Saturday marked the second successful AFTRA-hosted career day.

“I want our Villanova students to have the opportunity to meet real live industry people and hear their stories so they can learn from them,” Hunt said.

People attended the event from Villanova and other local colleges, including Cabrini and Temple. A few people from NBC 10 and AFTRA also sat in the audience.

The day began with a student keynote speaker and later was broken down into four panel discussions. Junior Margaux LaPointe, who co-directed the documentary “The Price of Life,” opened the event with a speech about discovering a passion in the industry. After LaPointe, four on-air television and radio professionals took the stage for the first panel entitled “How Did We Get Here?”

Panelists included Spike Eskin from WYSP, Andie Summers from WXTU and Jamison Uhler and Aditi Roy from NBC 10. These young broadcast professionals told their stories about breaking into the industry and shared advice on how to climb the ladder.

“I want to see my students get jobs in this industry,” Hunt said. “The best way to do that is to figure out how to get over that wall faster so that when there are people in line, our students are at the front.”

The second panel, “Behind the Business,” gave directors, writers and producers the chance to share their inside knowledge of the business aspect of the industry. The six panelists spoke about the importance of networking and internships.

Playwright and screenwriter Bruce Graham, known for writing the animated film “Anastasia,” was one of the panelists.

“It’s really interesting to learn about the environment that they work in, what they enjoy about it, what they get out of it and what they put into it,” said Lizzie Strobel, a junior marketing and finance major. “Getting to hear about that from so many people with so much experience is really interesting.”

The third seminar discussed the importance of casting directors and agents. Panelists included Gail Williams, Jackie Borock and Diane Heery.

The day ended with a final seminar entitled “Representation: Who’s Got Your Back?” The innovative workshop explored the importance of unions, like AFTRA, in the industry.

One issue that was constantly mentioned during each presentation was the importance of internships.

“You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, and an internship is a way to test drive a career,” Villanova communication professor John O’Leary said. He was also responsible for organizing the career day.

O’Leary talked to students about a specific internship with the film and television industry in Los Angeles. Five Villanova students participated in this internship last year.