Top IRTS Tips for BIPOC Students Working in Media | by Iyoniah Teague | Nov 2021

The annual IRTS Multicultural Careers Workshop provided a useful insight into BIPOC students’ post in the media world.

screenshot of the zoom call with each of the media professionals participating in the workshop
Screenshot by the author.

The International Radio and Television Foundation (IRTS) hosted its 2021 Multicultural Careers Workshop last week, with several panelists and speakers from media companies like Viacom, NBC Universal and MTV, among others. The three-day virtual event was dedicated to helping BIPOC students break into the media industry.

The workshop focused on how to handle interviews and resumes, as well as how to navigate the media industry in general. The panelists offered a bunch of helpful tips, so here are some of the best tips I took from the workshop.

According to Barbara Safer, Senior Manager at Fox, your CV should focus on clarity and providing relevant information about creativity. Ultimately, recruiters’ attention should be drawn to your qualifications and experience, rather than a single font.

Lauren Kruk-Winokur, Vice President of Communications at IRTS, went on to point out that applicants only have six seconds to impress the recruiter, which will determine whether or not their resume will be read in its entirety. Impressing employers has nothing to do with how colorful, artistic or unique your CV looks; instead, you need to prioritize it to be clear, relevant, and well-structured. Otherwise, your CV might be no longer than those first six seconds.

When it comes to artistic CVs, Karla Melara, who works on campus and early career recruiting at Viacom CBS, had a few more tips to give, explaining that art is no excuse for being unprofessional. Efficiency shouldn’t be abandoned to show off your Adobe Photoshop or graphic design skills – that’s what portfolios and website links are for.

“[Resumes are] one way to showcase your personality, but I strongly suggest that you take a step back and imagine being the person [who has] read thousands of resumes in any given week, ”she said. “It will also be your preference to always have a clean CV. “

Your resume should ignore irrelevant information, such as high school information, as you advance in your career or education, so recruiters can get a feel for what you are doing. today.

Ideally, you should also adjust your resume to match the unique position you are applying for, should you change industry or job type. “You have to think of your resume as a living document that breathes. This will always change, ”said Melara.

She also noted that one of her biggest pet peeves is seeing a candidate’s high school GPA and / or graduation date on their resume. “It goes without saying if you’ve made it to college, that you already have your high school diploma,” Melara said. Rather than being useful, it takes up space in an already tight one-page resume where you could have showcased your passions and added more relevant experience. Melara even suggested that applicants include their attendance at notable lectures and workshops in place of outdated high school information.

Melara and Safer both stressed the importance of using your elevator pitch not only to showcase your personality, but also to show the recruiter your level of brand awareness of the company and your passion for the position. you are applying for. While efficiency and clarity were once again emphasized (especially given the short duration of elevator presentations), these presentations tend to be less formal than your resume and allow you to show off your interpersonal skills as well. While you usually don’t have more than 30 seconds to do so, actively introducing yourself, speaking and using body language allows you to sell your presence and personality in a way that a PDF and email can. not.

Scarlett Mascarenas, head of diversity operations at NBCUniversal, added that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have practical experience or a degree directly related to the position when giving your elevator pitch. “Sometimes a degree is required, but other times we just want to see someone who is motivated,” she said.

When entering the media industry, you may need to work in positions that are not your field of choice in order to gain some media experience. Many panelists found themselves in this exact situation earlier in their careers, taking on jobs they didn’t want to work in in order to be closer to the companies they did. made want to work.

Malik Johnson, who works as an alternative development associate at Freedom and Disney, referred to his early experiences working for CNBC in business news, which eventually saw him move on to work on long-form documentaries. , which fascinated him the most at the time.

“I think a lot of times people have like an idea of ​​’I want this one job, I’m only going to take this one job’, and what I tried to do was say, ‘If I set foot somewhere then I know I can move to different places, ”Johnson said.

Don’t let social media fool you into thinking you’re not doing enough. Jamila Mustafa, reporter and host of Fresh-out Live on MTV, explained how social media can put us off; we are so focused on other people’s journeys that we forget to stay in our own way and focus on our careers.

“Give yourself grace, it’s going to be fine. You are already doing the work, ”Mustafa said. There is nothing wrong with taking a break, because “the simple fact that you are here, are present and are active” is a sign of your progress and your work.

Mustafa said that to be a woman of color in the media industry you need to focus on your job, not your race. The emphasis should always be on talent and artistry, and the rest will come after. People “should only think about work and how [you] go for it, “she said, before adding,” I’m just focusing on being the best Jamila I can be. Put your work first; you are who you are. “

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