Resume? Resume? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Resume!
25/10/2012 § Leave a comment
Well, of course you do, but aim to have a boatload of material so you don’t have just your resume to show prospective employers. And then, during your first job, find time to do your own thing, by any means necessary, so that you don’t really need that resume after that. I landed the second job of my career with the film production house, Second Story Television without any resume at all. That was because I started that company with a few friends after gleaning enough experience and connections from working at a small film production company/ad agency based on the famed Madison Avenue in NYC. And jobs after SST were mostly pulled in from my network of friends. That’s the key and the underlying thought behind this bloggette: building your career, yourself, again, by any means necessary.
Rubber Rodeo: How The West Was Won / Eat Records / Second Story Television
Yeah, yeah, I know Spike Lee and many others have copped that term “by any means…” and that they nabbed it from Malcolm X who was using it as in the freedom fighter, revolutionary modality. I mean it with all that fervor! Don’t expect anything from anyone. At my first job I learned a lot, especially since it was a small place and I was ladled a lot of responsibility within a very short period of time. I believe within the first three months we were — I WAS! — budgeting a multi-million dollar commercial campaign for Mobil Oil trying to get numbers for items I knew anything about; animated characters, live dancers, choreography, symphony orchestra, and that’s not all folks.
I learned all the SAG rules and became an Assistant Director (though not landing in the DGA) for the shoot. I sat in with the editor and helped prepare mix reels among all the other bits editors had to schluff off to their assistants because it was all done tediously, by hand, in those olden days of the ’80s. They knew my ambition, my desire, most importantly, they knew I was motivated, but when the going got good, they hired someone else do the additional directing.
So I waited until I was fired and, with some friends, started SST with our own funds: unemployment checks for some of us — one of the benefits of waiting until you get fired, bank accounts for others, and money awarded to yours truly from a suit arising out of a van backing up on a one way street and smashing into me, hard, ambulance and weeks out-of-work hard. We did this in part to try and make a living, but this was really taking our career in our own hands, in order to build up our own credits, show reels and career possibilities. It was my contact with Don Rose — a very cold call by the way — which led to SST’s production of music videos for Rubber Rodeo, Grammy-nominated videos. Years later, Don started Rykodisc up in Salem, MA, and when push came to shove in NYC — the film industry was looking pretty lean and no steady work was looming and my wife and I were leaning toward a better sense of security and employer benefits, like health care — I leaped at Don’s offer of a job up in Salem, MA. Obviously, no resume required as Don knew the ins and outs of my abilities from my work before and after the videos. Even my part-time book-keeping job back in NYC — told you it was lean — came through one of the actors I worked with at one of my freelance gigs, director and writer at Murder To Go; a participatory murder mystery/event company started by my friend, David Landau.
I landed my first job at that film company, after giving out about 100 resumes all over NYC, in the pre-internet way by walking and riding elevators. Landau actually ran out of resumes one day I was with him schlepping all over Manhattan. I think he had printed a couple hundred more than me. After that first job, hardly any resumes were needed to be expertly crafted, fluffing up the freebie work to look important, and printed. Since then, my career has been built from networking, mostly, and carving out a path with my own pool of resources, talents, and bulging portfolio of work. Not that I haven’t hacked up a few wrong paths, but that’s another set of stories.
Every year, my alma mater, Ithaca College holds a networking night for Boston alumni and students with the job-seeking topic: “Standing Out In A Crowd.” One of the alumni panelists, Mitchell Corton, the Director of Sales for Compuware/Gomez of Lexington, MA, was actually there to interview prospects for his sales force. (Hint: these get-togethers work, dudes.) Mitchell noted three basic qualities he and his staff look for in an sales person — which I feel are exactly what any good hiring manager will be looking for at all points in your career:
Steve Lichtman, another IC alum, who owns four Fitness Together studios across the state, as well as his own marketing firm, had to interject this one after Mitchell finished:
While effort was key, Steve agreed, he really needs his staff to have the initiative and never take anything for granted. Initiative is what kicked me out of the doldrums of assisting others and creating my own work; for How The West Was Won, it was not easy for SST to get the 30 plus professionals to work in the film crew FOR FREE, then working out the extreme deals on the equipment to save shekels, making calls at night, after work, to secure locations, shooting weekends, editing whenever. We were motivated to make something, so we did it, yes, by any means necessary.
That night, I kept coming back to that term, “Initiative,” when one-on-one with the students still at IC. As they where they wanted to go with their lives, I tried to give them a push to do their own thing. When I sit with TKA interns and they tell me their thoughts about life after college or how they want to get additional professional experience, I tell them to be super self-motivated; they have to do it themselves. Interning with the pro’s and learning from them is invaluable, but there’s not that many professionals to go around for all of you who need them. And not that many want an intern around their desk all day to pick up the really good tidbits of life.
Most importantly, and I know from experience, it’s better to mess-up and do your own thing poorly so as to learn and experiment on friends and family to hone your techniques, instead of under the gaze and thumb of an employer who is paying you not to eff-up.
[Note: like a few of these bloggettes, this one was written for Berklee College Of Music. They asked me to impart some wisdom outside of having interns work at TKA. To that end, much of the examples coming up are geared for their students. Don’t fret if you are not from that storied institution, while the examples are location specific you should get the gist.]
Many of my interns are not from Berklee and don’t have the resources that Berklee students enjoy, and so they really have to do it on their own. I would expect Performance Grads to leave from Berklee with a professional looking CD, but the other majors? If you want to get some extra live recording experience, do a podcast out of your dorm room of local Boston talent, or connect a club with a radio station to do a show based out of that venue. Not the easiest thing, yes, but nothing is easy. It’s not impossible either, as ConcertWindow.com –started by two Harvard (!) students–has worked out a deal to do live webcasts out of Club Passim with an eye toward that web-casting as just one piece of a larger online marketing service.
One of the secrets the proverbial THEY don’t tell you; there is no one box. Yes, in your interviews for your first job, or even your first internship, there are certain bits of prerequisites SOME hiring managers look for; professional experience, use of Microsoft Word, phone skills, or exact equipment models and versions of software programs specific to, and endemic of, some specialized career paths. That’s one box. But you have to build the other one that will get you noticed above and beyond everyone else.
You want to do marketing? Find a band and do their marketing. From what I hear Berklee is full of musicians — yes that’s a facetious remark said in an attempt at some small attempt at humor, so you can insert a chuckle here if you wish, but also to show you how much opportunity is all around you on this campus. [Again, Berklee-centric, sorry, but those not in a music school and wanting to find a band to do just this? I believe there are bars where bands play. Yeah, facetious, but, just look around where you live. Even established artists playing medium-sized clubs in your area would like to build up their audiences so as to garner bigger fees and headline slots. Don’t be shy. Providence-based Rubber Rodeo was an established band, getting column inches in real magazines, playing CBGB in NYC, when I called their manager up.]
There’s a lot of golden eggs in your path, guys. Just think if you were the dude, or dudette, who befriended John Mayer and were able to help him sell out gigs here in Boston before he moved down to Atlanta to find fame and fortune. (He might not have left Boston, think of that.) Or even pals with John Lloyd Taylor, now music director of those Jonas Brothers and of his own band, Ocean Grove. Or Esperanza Spalding, or Natalie Maines, or…* Don’t wait to take a marketing class and do some assignments that everyone else is doing, do your own thing, do it now, and do it good, make it something you would be proud enough to show a professional.
Film scoring look interesting? Take a hike past Fenway Park and a right, and a left down Comm Ave, and a few blocks down, there’s the Communications building at B.U. where there are students whose projects are silently aching for some of your good music. Or over at Emerson. Or more than a hundred other Film & Television schools across this land. Motivate. Take the initiative. At the Ithaca alumni thing, I met a student from the film school and hooked him up with a music student, and said dudes, here is your potential film and soundtrack work. Make your own box. Then, take those new shiny wares of yours on that informational interview you are going on this semester. (And, ahem, why don’t you have one planned?)
What a perfect ice-breaker to get a professional to talk about their work by breaking down yours — a priceless experience you can get for the cost of a phone call, with maybe a really good coffee. And, those professionals get to see you as an individual, way over and above that limp, cold and purposely, deathless prose piece of, hopefully, non-fiction you have crafted; YOUR RESUME.
Titled with apologies to John Huston’s The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. * Yeah I know Pat Metheny and Gary Burton, two Marsalis Brothers, and more of TKA’s present and past roster have gone through Berklee, but I thought that would be too self-serving to note without this kind of caveat. SST was created with David Brownstein who is now a career coach for entertainment folk in Hollywood, Jill Bock, who last I heard was a literary agent and has not updated her Facebook account in some time, and Eugene Sher, who has since left this mortal coil after a career in Los Angeles.
For more in the ever-intriguing, suspense-driven, series of blogs written for Berklee College of Music, see:
Bio for this bloggette:
DAVID GREENBERG is Director of Marketing and hosts interns at Ted Kurland Associates, a boutique booking and management agency located in the Allston environs of Boston, MA.; yes quite a few from Berklee, but others as well, like Endicott College, Skidmore, Northeastern, Bowdoin, UMass Amherst and Lowell, and more fine institutions of higher learning too numerous to list and still keep your attention. His background in this industry of entertainment has gone long and wide, (not yet in the end zone, yet, by any means) best read on his Facebook or LinkedIn pages. A few tidbits: as noted above, he started his own video company, Second Story Television with a few friends and money earned from an accident settlement — not recommended as a good way to find starting capital — which led him out of NYC when he grabbed the brass-ring of a position at Rykodisc, he has written more than a fair share of TV sit-com spec scripts trying to land an agent and into that side of the entertainment business to no avail, and recently he has compiled all his past unsung lyricals into a book he calls The Mud Folio: suitable for shelving as it is now available on lulu.com.
[Originally posted in the Berklee Internship Blog for my ongoing Blogging For Berklee Series.]