Industry Feature: Networking During a Pandemic

I was lost after graduating, wondering if everything that I had done been a waste. Second-guessing if I had joined the right organizations, networked with the right people, and even if my standards for a job were too high. I was at a dead-end. Of course, I did not let that stop me! I continued to put myself out there reminding myself that if positions were not available in the market, I could create my own. I had done it the previous summer, so why not do it again?

Last summer I created my own internships by reaching out to small companies of interest that needed interns. I knew they weren’t going to be paid, but I wanted the experience. I ended up with four remote internships summer of 2020. I am not saying go out and get four internships, but know you have the ability to create opportunities if you are struggling to find them. If you have a specific goal you want to reach or a specific company you want to work for, there is always something for you to do. Since there is no guidebook for handling school and a pandemic (believe me I checked), this gives you the ability to explore all of your options. It allows you to experiment with different career paths. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and where I was going to end up before the pandemic hit. After the pandemic? Not so much. I took a 180 and decided to try other things, and ended up LOVING IT. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box and express that creativity as Chima Egbuzie stressed during our conversation. Write down these tips for future guidance and motivation!

I spoke with Chima Egbuzie, a Social Coordinator at HBO Max Originals Marketing. Some of his work may even sound familiar to you! A few titles he is working on include: Selena + Chef, Fresh Prince Reunion, It’s A Sin, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League. He was able to give me a few tips about navigating things through a pandemic.

“Write a list of the top five to ten companies you would like to work for and reach out to them.”

Reaching out to recruiters and employers gives you the advantage of putting yourself in front of the competition. Schedule a 30-minute phone or Zoom call to ask about what they do specifically. NEVER ask for a job or internship while conducting these meetings. Ask more about their day-to-day tasks and projects they have managed. Asking about their experiences will leave a lasting impression!

“Create a Portfolio”

For any students looking to find careers in production, film, or content creation, CREATE A PORTFOLIO! Honestly, in anything you do, you will have a portfolio of previous experiences or projects. You MUST have a way to showcase the work that you have done whether it was for a job, an organization on campus, or even freelancing. Look for certifications and courses that will help expand your knowledge. Often companies host workshops and classes that show you the skills that are in high demand, so stay consistent with your search. Every time you apply for a position, it should be tailored to that specific position. Every job requires different attributes and qualifications, resulting in every resume being different. TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE! You should always have experience, even applying for entry-level positions. You can gain experience by doing freelancing, internships, creating for organizations on campus, and even creating your content for different companies and broadcasting that on social media. Companies are bound to check your social media, so why not have some of your work broadcasted there!

“Do what you have to do.”

Chima shared a few of his tips to get him through his pandemic time. “Do what you have to do.” This is very broad, but to specify it, it means to get the experiences that you want, join the organizations that you want, or if you have to go to school and work afterward, DO IT. “You deserve everything.” You do. You are an amazing person for getting this far and if you apply yourself to everything that your heart desires, you shall receive it. “Putting yourself out there.” You won’t get anywhere unless you leave your bubble and get out of your comfort zone. Real change and growth don’t happen until you do something you’re uncomfortable with. Whether it is sending a cold email, messaging that recruiter, or sending an application for an internship you have been rejected from twice already, you have to continue to put yourself out there.

“Know your worth.”

Mr. Egbuzie also discussed how to know if the position is right for you. Turning down a job is probably one of the hardest (and craziest) things to do right now under the circumstances, but know your worth. He talked about how Warner Media sent him supplies and equipment to his home for a comfortable and productive workspace. Working for a company that wants you to get the work done is normal, but one that sends you the equipment to complete the assignments is taking a step further. It is one thing to have a company tell you to complete a task, but it is something else when the company gives you the resources to complete the task. Know the difference.

“N-E-T-W-O-R-K-I-N-G”

His last piece of advice was, it’s not about WHAT you know, it is about WHO you know! I am sure you have heard this before and if you haven’t, I guarantee that you will. He shared that some companies do not post job postings online, but accept applicants from a network of who someone refers. A referral saves time and money for recruiters, so they are bound to pick from a circle of skilled and recommended people for interviews and positions. As mentioned, this is why networking is so crucial during college and out of college. Networking is as easy as sending someone a cold email asking for 30 minutes to chat with them. Their line of work doesn’t have to be all you discuss, it could be about their interests, what activities did they do in college, what’s their favorite sports team, or even ask if they are binge-watching anything on Netflix. That will leave a lasting impression as they know you more than grades and textbooks.

Even though the pandemic has put a halt to many, many, MANY things, you can’t let this take you down. You have to keep pushing and make a name for yourself. Continue to work hard and take breaks when needed! Just know you are doing an awesome job and you will be successful if you continue to get out of your comfort zone.

Until Next Time!

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