Cool Careers in Film, Entertainment, and Digital Media

The Career Center recently hosted a seminar on careers in the Louisiana Film, Entertainment, and Digital Media Industries. The presenting guest was Chris Stelly, Executive Group Director, Entertainment & Digital Media for Louisiana. Here are some of the main takeaways, in case you missed it:

Film

Most people think that “film career” is synonymous with “acting career”. However, there are a wide variety of film careers besides acting, including:

  • Photography: encompasses everything from the actual filming of a production to taking stills for promotion.
  • Digital design: working with computers to change what we see on the screen. A good example of this is in the Louisiana-filmed movie “Ray” starring Jamie Foxx, in which the ground was digitally changed to another color to reflect the look of that area.
  • Sound mixing: technicians can make a movie far more exciting or dramatic by use of sounds ranging from a simple pin drop to a loud explosion.
  • Costume/production design: an excellent choice for people who are artistic and creative and contribute to everything from furniture to costumes.
  • Hair and Make-up:  a hair and make-up artist can provide a look or style, but could also provide a special effect such as an alien, or make actors look period-appropriate for films set in other centuries.
  • Location scouting: many “scouters” go out in search of landscapes and locations to mimic other ones in order to bring a realistic experience on film. One example given was that a movie was filmed in Hammond, LA yet it was made to look as if you were in the Bronx, NY.

How to break into the industry: To get into this industry it would be a great idea to start off with small and local productions. The more experience you get, the more credible you are. For the technical side of the industry, there are many courses at local Universities and Community Colleges which you could take to improve upon and further advance in your field.

Entertainment and Music:

Louisiana has a rich and unique musical history. There are many ways a person can be involved in this industry. A few examples are:

  • Producing music for artists
  • Recording, editing, and/or mixing music
  • Performing music as a vocalist or instrumentalist
  • Promoting artists

How to break into the industry: There is no set course for breaking into the music industry – for the most part, it’s not about which classes you take in school. Instead, focus on finding and creating opportunities for yourself. Learn by doing – volunteer your time and skills for local projects. Search for internships in your field. Networking will be a huge part of your strategy – reaching out and forming connections and relationships with people in the industry.

Digital Media/Videogames:

Digital media is a rapidly growing field in Louisiana. The main field that was mentioned during this seminar was the videogame industry – everything from mobile games to console games. A video game production can be just as large as a movie. There are many different positions which are all essential to videogame production. A few examples are:

  • Art design for the general art and look of a game.
  • Sound design for effects.
  • Computer programming for the operation of the game.
  • Voice acting
  • Writing for the story and tone of the game
  • Game testing for errors or bugs
  • Legal and licensing division to ensure that everything in a game is in copyrighted and licensing standards

How to break into the industry: You must have the technology skills to get into this field. Many of the skills can be learned at two-year colleges. For the other aspects such as the legal division, you would need a legal background and education. Video game testing in this field usually requires a high school education and a keen eye to spotting errors and following instructions. In fact, Baton Rouge has a video game testing center for Electronic Arts (EA) on LSU’s campus.

Final Thought

Since the creation of the pioneering motion picture incentive program in 2002, Louisiana has created many opportunities. More information can be found on the Louisiana Economic Development website and the Film Baton Rouge website.

Written by Alvin Coleman

Cool Careers: Industrial Trades and Aviation Technology

The Career Center recently hosted a seminar on Careers in Aviation Technology and Industrial Trades. There were two guest speakers. The first representative was Brian Capone with the BRCC Aviation program. The second presenter was Connie Fabre with the Greater Baton Rouge Industry alliance. If you missed this seminar, here are some key points:

Aviation Careers

Aviation isn’t just working with airplanes. There are many branches to the tree of aviation. Here are some examples:

Pilot:  If you enjoy technology, travel, and a general interest in aviation, then a pilot would be a great career choice. To be a pilot you must attend flight school and additional safety training. You can also get additional certifications to increase your income. There are so many directions this career field can take you, the sky is literally the limit. Here are a few examples:

  • Private Pilot or VFR Pilot: an entry-level pilot position. You operate under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), meaning you can fly small aircraft while the horizon is visible. This requires a minimum of 10 hours of flight experience.
  • Military Pilot: much of the training is the same as a regular pilot, but you’d be working directly for a branch of the US military.
  • Fire, Police, and Medical Pilot: In today’s world there can be many unpredictable circumstances in which a pilot is needed. This can range from a forest fire in California, to a high speed chase, to even a rescue mission from an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Commercial Pilot: must have an airline transport pilot certification, at least 1500 hours of flight experience, and a bachelor’s degree in aircraft operations, aviation, aeronautical engineering, or a related field. It take around three years to reach this level as a pilot.
  • Flight Instructor: must have a commercial pilot’s license, a valid third class FAA medical certificate, and a passing score on the FAA knowledge test.

Non-Pilot Aviation Careers: There are many other fields in aviation besides piloting. A few examples are:

  • Air Marshal: law enforcement officers who ride on airplanes who are trained to immediately take out a threat or conflict in order to maintain safety to all persons onboard.
  • Air Traffic Controller: make the decisions as to which planes can take off and land. Controllers seek to avoid crashes and other incidents involving aircraft by communicating directly with pilots and directing their actions.  They have an enormous amount of responsibility and must be good at problem solving. This is a very rewarding career which starts at around $40k, and many well-seasoned controllers make close to $100k.
  • Aviation Mechanic: If something breaks, it must be fixed. There is a growing need for aircraft mechanics today. This field pays very well also – expect to make an average starting salary of $50,000 per year or around $26 per hour. BRCC offers training for this profession. An alternative is to get training from the military.

INDUSTRIAL TRADES

There are many high-paying industrial careers in Louisiana. Oil, natural gas, and chemical plants are a vital part of the state’s economy. A few examples of these jobs are:

  • Plant Operator: supervises the operation of an industrial plant. Operators are needed in utilities, power plants, or chemical plants such as gas extraction facilities, petrochemical or oil refineries. Education for this career can be obtained through a two-year degree from a community college. Average pay for this career can start at $21.00 an hour, and salary will rise quickly. The average chemical plant operator in Louisiana earns $67,000 per year.
  • Welder: fabrication and assembly of metal structures and equipment through the use of welders, cutters, shapers and measuring tools. Welders are needed not only in chemical plants, but general construction of buildings to ship yards. Education for this career can be obtained by apprenticeships which range from 6,000 to 8,000 hours in length, or three to four years at 2,000 hours per year. Much of the training for this career path can be completed at a community college or vo-tech school. Welding jobs in Louisiana can average around $53,000 a year.
  • Chemists: process, mix and examine natural compounds to determine how they interact with other chemicals. To become a chemist one would need a four-year degree from an accredited university. Many industrial companies need both chemists and chemical engineers.

Final Thoughts

Aviation is a diverse and rewarding field that anyone who is interested in flying or who enjoys  technical hands-on care should look into. Check BRCC‘s offerings in this field.

Louisiana’s industrial field is constantly growing. It is a great alternative for graduating high school seniors who don’t want a traditional four-year degree. More information can be found on GBRIA’s website.

Written by Alvin Coleman

New Career Center Books

Happy Halloween, dear jobseekers! We hope you enjoy the chills and thrills of the season. We know however, that some of you are terrified – not by ghouls and ghosts, but by scary career situations. Don’t get too spooked, though: the Career Center is here to help, with books to guide you past the fear and into action.

Scary Career Situation #1: I want to go back to school. . .but it’s been so long.
Read: Never Too Late: The Adult Student’s Guide to College
Synopsis: This book is for non-traditional college students, who may have to balance college classes against working a day job and raising a family. The guide aims to assist you in choosing a college that will work around your schedule, picking a major that will give you a great career, finding a way to make schooling affordable, and ensure that you graduate successfully. The book is filled detailed information, including a massive list of best colleges for adult students.

Scary Career Situation #2: I need to sell myself. . .but I’m not good at talking to people.
Read: The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide
Synopsis: This guide aims to help with every step of the job search process that introverts tend to struggle with, including networking, interviewing, succeeding at a new job, getting along with co-workers, and asking for promotions. The book’s approach is to begin by identifying introverts’ strengths and how best to utilize those, then adds a few extrovert techniques to round out the strategy.

Scary Career Situation #3: I want to start my own business. . .but I don’t know how.
Read: Small Business for Dummies
Synopsis: Each book in the For Dummies series strives to be a thorough compendium of knowledge, and this one is no exception. This guide is a one-stop shop for would-be entrepreneurs, covering everything from business plan creation and fundraising, through legal and financial issues, to employee retention and marketing strategies.

Scary Career Situation #4: I need to ask for a raise. . .but I’m scared of messing it up.
Read: The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need
Synopsis: This newly revised and updated edition expands on the wildly successful 2003 original. It features 101 Winning Tactics to help you get what you want in any situation, whether you’re asking your boss for a raise/promotion/better schedule, asking a bank for a small business loan, or even just asking for a discount on your cell phone bill.

You can check out any of these titles from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Lynnette Lee

College Scholarships: What You Need to Know

The Career Center recently hosted a seminar on helpful tips when applying for scholarships. Guest presenter Meagan Davenport, an academic counselor with experience in college advising, offered insights about what she has learned throughout her experience of interacting with high school students. Here are some of the main takeaways in case you missed it:

why is this important?

Paying for college is a problem that has become all too common. Students are taking out more loans in order to get a degree that is needed in today’s workforce. In 2018, the average student graduated college with at least $37,000 in loans with an interest rate of 5%. Scholarships have become more necessary as the struggle to pay for college grows. Applying to scholarships can relieve some of the financial burdens of going to college.

When do I start looking for scholarships?

You should ideally start looking at scholarships at the beginning of your senior year. There are scholarships available at the beginning of the year that continue yearlong. The earlier you are able to start applying for scholarships, the more scholarships you will be able to apply to.

Helpful tips:

This is all a numbers game. The more scholarships you apply for, the more money you could potentially be awarded. It gets easier after your first 7 applications. Make a deadline list or calendar to keep track of all of the scholarship due dates. This will help you prioritize your scholarship applications.

Start with the easiest ones to fill out. There are some scholarships for which you only need to fill in your information without any essay, recommendation letter, or other attachments. These are less time consuming and can easily be completed in one sitting. When you are on a scholarship website, fill out the optional questions and use the filters. Students who do this are twice as likely to find more scholarships.

Do not be afraid of those small amount scholarships. These are less competitive scholarships, so you have a better chance of winning small amounts. Every dollar you receive in scholarships can help. Those small amounts can easily help pay for textbooks.

Apply to the essay scholarships! Considering a lot of students do not like to write essays, there is a smaller selection pool for these opportunities. This gives you a higher chance of earning money for college. The essay should fit the theme of the scholarship and should include personal aspects, such as achievements, issues you feel strongly about, academic plans or major of study, or mentors and influences in your life. Make the structure and foundation of your essay reusable so that you do not have to write a whole new essay for each scholarship.

Have a professional email address to use for scholarships as well as college applications. Clean up your social media as well. Although colleges may not look at your social media accounts, some of your college jobs or work study opportunities might. It is just good practice to have a clean social media account and email address.

online resources:

Beware of scam websites! You should never have to pay money to get scholarship money. These are not true scholarship websites. You can also connect with your school counselor about local scholarship opportunities.

Here are some legitimate scholarship websites that are very user-friendly and helpful:

Written by Meagan Davenport

Structuring and Formatting a Cover Letter

This is a follow-up to a previous post in which we discussed what a cover letter is, when to use one, and the different ways in which it could help you. Today, we’ll look at the proper structure and formatting of a cover letter. As you read along, check out our template for an example of the techniques discussed.

formatting a written cover letter

  • There are 7 sections to a cover letter: Heading, Date, Address, Salutation, Body, Closing, and Signature. Make sure to skip a line after each of the sections, and after each paragraph of the body of the letter. Skip two-three lines after the closing, so that you have room to hand-write your signature.
  • Begin with a Heading – your name, contact info, etc. – which matches the heading on your resume.  Below that, put today’s Date.
  • Add an Address which will include the name, job title, company name, and company address of the person to whom you are sending the letter.
  • Include a Salutation such as “Dear Mr. Smith.” It is important that you find the actual name of the person – do not just say, “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • The Body is the content of your letter. More on that later.
  • Your Closing will probably say something like “Sincerely” or “Yours Truly”. Below that you will add your Signature, with a hand-written signature above your typed name.

formatting an emailed cover letter

  • Emailed cover letters are much less formally formatted than printed cover letters, but the content should still be professional and not too casual.
  • Omit the Heading, Date, and Address.
  • Type the Salutation, Body, and Closing in the email message.
  • Add a Signature which includes your printed name, email address, LinkedIn profile, and phone number.
  • Include your resume as a PDF attachment.

Structure of a Cover Letter

  • Each paragraph answers a question.
  • Paragraph 1: What job are you applying for? Be direct and specific with why you’re contacting them.
  • Paragraph 2: What makes you the best candidate for the job? Explain why you’re uniquely qualified, giving examples of relevant skills/accomplishments/experience. This will likely be your longest paragraph. If it gets too long, break part of it up into bullet points.
  • Paragraph 3: Why do you want this job with this company? Talk about your passion for doing this kind of work. Also make sure to say something specific about the company – what seems appealing about them? (Good customer reviews, state-of-the-art-technology, high growth rate. etc.) It’s a good idea to do research on the company before writing this section.
  • Paragraph 4: What are the next steps? This may look something like, “Enclosed please find my resume. I would love to meet with you to interview for this position. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time.”

a final word of caution

Resist the impulse to create one cover letter and use it for everything. A well-written cover letter is tailored to a specific job opening, focusing on the most relevant skills and passions for that particular job. It’s a good practice to write a brand new cover letter for each and every job you apply for. You can still use the 4-paragraph structure listed above – think of it as the skeleton of your cover letter. But the details of what you write – the meat on the bones – will change.

The Career Center is here to help! You can visit us at 7711 Goodwood Blvd for one-on-one help with writing and polishing cover letters.

Written by Lynnette Lee