I didn’t start looking for my first TV job until nearly two years after graduating from Gonzaga University. I never actually thought I’d pursue a TV career and started working in film right out of school.
Do you remember what you included on your first tape?
I included three packages and one sports highlight reel that I had shot in college (one hard news, one feature, one NAT pkg and the highlight reel)
How many rejections did you get?
None. Keep in mind that this is not the norm. I had a pretty solid tape and years of film experience that were fairly attractive to prospective employers. That said, I was very lucky.
Did you have to change anything about your approach to the job search?
Later in my career, I adapted my approach by crafting better resume tapes and creating much more professional resumes/cover letters. I also took the time to create graphic labels for the DVDs and meticulously curated my online presence. Employers look where you direct them and I pointed them at material that screamed “this guy means business.”
What happened in your first interview?
I actually shot and edited a VO/SOT for air during my first interview. There was a little chit-chat and then they handed me a Betacam SX and told me to shoot a VO about car break-ins. No instruction. Just me and the camera. I went out to the employee parking lot and looked for any cars with valuables left in them. I came back in with my raw and had to edit tape-to-tape. A skill I had very little proficiency in. I acted like I’d done it a thousand times and somehow came up with something passable for TV.
Did you ever turn down a job offer? Why?
I turned down two jobs my first time job hunting. The first station was kind of a joke with terrible equipment and offered me terrible pay. The second didn’t have a take-home news unit, which the third station did.
What was your experience like during your in-person interview?
For the most part, all of my in-person interviews were very informal. There was always some discussion about my credentials and work history, but they also realized they were hiring somebody new to the business. The conversation revolved more about me as a person and seeing how I would fit in with the rest of the news team. They also wanted a clear understanding of WHY I wanted to work in news. This question has come up in every interview I’ve done since.
When did you get an offer? How did it happen?
Again, my situation was a little unique. I had offers from multiple stations and this put me at a huge advantage. I was able to negotiate. This isn’t a luxury afforded to most newcomers. Because of this I was able to squeeze a few more dollars out of the station I ended up working for. I was called back to discuss the various offers in person and I had the leverage of saying, “well station X offered me this much.”
Looking back, what would you have changed about the process?
I honestly can’t say I would change anything really. I was fortunate enough to have all the pieces fall in place for me. The biggest things I had going for me were solid preparation and a healthy dose of luck.