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Monday, November 7, 2011

Lights! Sony Studios! Emory Alumni Panel in Los Angeles!

Please welcome EAAvesdropping Guest Columnist Ron P. Bruno Jr. 96Ox 98B.

Dear EAA Community,
The Los Angeles Emory Alumni Entertainment Forum at Sony Studios in Culver City, CA, featured four successful Emory entertainment industry alums and was a smashing success! Alums and friends were red carpet VIPS as visiting hosts from the Emory Alumni Association and the EAA’s Alumni Career Services greeted them under the “Emory Alumni Entertainment Forum” marquee. On the famed New York Street on Sony Studio's backlot, recent graduates mingled with graduates from the 80s and 90s, while treated to hors d’oeuvres catered by Wolfgang Puck.
After networking, alums moved into the Rita Hayworth Dining Room – once the premiere gathering place for studio executives and movie stars. Ariane Fitch, assistant director of regional volunteer programs, kicked off the evening by sharing a bit about the EAA, the Los Angeles Emory Alumni Chapter and a bit about how the program came about. Carolyn Bregman, the EAA’s director of alumni career services, spoke of resources available at Career Services, the importance of networking and why the evening was so important. I personally shared a few words about the state of employment in California and the nation and stressed the need for young alums to be aggressive and strategic in their career search, as competition is fierce, not just among peers, but the entire workforce.

After a brief introduction of the four panelists, David Buckholtz 96B, vice president and divisional chief information officer for Sony Pictures Entertainment; Ellen Cohen 85L, vice president business affairs, Disney/ABC Cable Networks Group; Mark Goffman 90C, producer and director, and Alex Yarosh 98B, talent agent, The Gersh Agency, we jumped right into the program. Our esteemed panelists each revealed their career paths.

As Mark and Alex agreed, it wasn’t necessarily a straight line into their current career. As we delved deeper into the panelists’ personal experiences, it became clear these professionals all had one thing in common: they hustled and took risks.

Ellen remarked that if you want to succeed and stand out, “It takes a lot of hustle, 'sell,' networking, making contacts, getting the breaks, and convincing people that you are the one they want to hire.” In addition, “You have to network. Focus. If you know what you want, tell everyone. Find out the qualifications, have informational interviews, find out what the expectations are of the people interviewing you. Temp. Volunteer. Get as close to the job as possible. Be committed, driven.”

Following Ellen, David jumped in and advised, “So much is about showing up! You may find opportunities on location outside of Hollywood, even internationally.”
In the creative world of producing, directing and writing, Mark offered his advice, “People want to read great scripts. "Good" may not stand out.” Alex then shared his viewpoint, “You have to find the biggest, broadest form for demonstrating your talents. It's great if you can create your own content. In today's world, audiences watch content where they want to.” The slate of questions was equally weighted to career advice for young alums – where the opportunities are, how to make your mark – as well as thoughts on where the industry was going.

After the main program, we opened to Q&A, where great questions included how to improve your resume to stand out from the crowd and how to raise capital and financing from films through the investment banking community.
After the program, guests were treated to a VIP backlot tour of the studio, led by a studio docent. We thank everyone for coming, especially our panelists who shared time out of their busy schedules. The Los Angeles chapter plans to offer other industry forums, to be advertised through the chapter newsletter and social media, as well as at http://www.alumni.emory.edu/, where additional information about benefits, services and resources for alumni may be found.

--Ron P. Bruno Jr. 96Ox 98B

Be on the lookout for articles on upcoming Career Services programs!

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