In the movies, it is fairly typical for the main character to run away to Hollywood and, after some bad motels and bad gigs, land her dream job. The film typically ends with a star performance as the credits role (think Britney Spears in Crossroads – not a girl, but definitely not yet a woman) and everything ends happily ever after.
Unfortunately, for most college students, that plan will simply never lead us to success in the entertainment career of our dreams. We, however, have a leg up on Britney. We have, or will soon have, a college degree.
While some may think that a degree serves you mostly for graduate school and competitive business professions, a college degree in a relevant major – anything from English to marketing to film studies – can substantially increase your odds of making it within the entertainment industry. You worked four long, hard years for that distinction, and now is the time to put that thing to use.
Sure, making it in the entertainment biz can rely on who you know. But if you aren’t lucky enough to be the progeny of a red-carpet-regular, chances are that you’ll have to craft those relationships on your own. And flaunting a completed college education will almost always place you above the cross-country traveler looking for the big break. A college degree shows ambition and purpose, as well as an appropriate focus on the career that most excites the graduate.
First, recognize that a variety of degrees will make you an applicable and worthy candidate for the entertainment world. You do not necessarily need to major in broadcast journalism to receive a position in front of the camera. This is especially important for college students at liberal arts colleges that generally have smaller student populations and fewer course offerings. Though your college may not have offered playwriting or choreography, most liberal arts degrees suggest a competence in all aspects of academia, especially written and verbal communication. For students at larger schools, specializing in the field of your choosing can demonstrate a serious dedication to the career pursuit.
Another important way that your degree can help you is through networking with fellow alumni of your college or university. Research some of your schools most successful alumni through the Office of Career Services. A shared alma mater is often a huge selling point for job candidates. In a game where who’s who is everything, even one contact can be helpful.
Even a small opportunity can lead to bigger and better jobs in the entertainment business. Don’t let your degree prevent you from starting with an internship and working your way up. Most of the times, an internship is the most effective way to build your credentials.
So don’t be discouraged, recent grads. Make phone calls. Send e-mails. Send your resume around. Work your connections. And if all else fails, follow Britney’s lead and head to a karaoke bar.