20something profile: Jon
I graduated in 2011 from Vassar College with degrees in Political Science and Film. After four years, fifty all-nighters, and enough coffee to fill an Olympic swimming pool, I had a single sheet of laminated paper inscribed with Latin and masonic symbology. I could explain the difference between Baudrillard and Jameson’s views on postmodern aesthetics, but I couldn’t grill a chicken breast without giving myself food poisoning (true story).
For three months after graduating, I interned at a small documentary company in Brooklyn. Hoping to break into the world of non-fiction filmmaking, I was racking up a credit card bill, commuting for two hours each way from home in Rockland County, doing almost any side project that would pay, and quite a few that didn’t. I had already done seven internships by the time I started senior year and was feeling heavily disillusioned about my job prospects.
Later in the summer, an ambitious idea I had for a documentary (embarrassingly ambitious, when I look back on it) led me to a contact at a larger, more well-known documentary company in Manhattan, at which I got another internship – which was, frankly, only more stressful when I realized how improbable it was to get hired (to be clear, these were both excellent companies and great internships – but like everyone, I needed to start making money).
Then, two weeks into my new position, I got a call from a company located right in Rockland. They were looking to hire an editor for a documentary TV show on the DIY Network – I was incredibly skeptical, having filled out over 100 applications and having been unable to get a job even as an assistant editor. But in fact, they liked my work from college, the fact that I was local, and they were hoping to hire someone who would be committed to staying with them for the long term.
There’s many, many details I’m leaving out – I also have two part time editing jobs, and I took time off to work in the lighting department on an independent feature, but this company has been my primary gig since – and it’s gone incredibly well. I’ve learned a huge amount, have since been moved up to edit a show about to air on the Discovery Channel, and I work with some of the best, most talented, and down to earth people I’ve met in this industry. Since I started, we’ve moved to an office over four times as large and have twice as many shows on the air.
I know I’ve been incredibly lucky – so my only additional thought is that it’s crucially important, especially in this economy, to keep an open mind about what jobs and career paths exist, where they might exist, and who might help you get there. And to throw yourself completely into everything you do.
Also, cut open the chicken breast to make sure it’s cooked throughout.