You CAN Get There from Here: Arts, Entertainment, Media and Entrepreneurship Panel
Elena Stokes: I would say you put some effort in, like he said, you have to do it yourself. And to try to answer your question about what can you do to move forward as a writer or to make changes on your own, you just have to remember at Hopkins they were very flexible about internships and stuff like that. And I hope it’s still the same way; that you can get credit and get all these internships. I did radio, I did newspaper, and I did TV. I still remember working at the city paper of Baltimore, I was a fact checker, and I had Tom Clancy, and I was just trying to fact check before the Internet. Remember we were there before the Internet? It was so hard.
Joe Molko (Moderator): I was there after the Internet. Was Brett McCabe there? Or Lee Gardner? At the city paper?
Elena Stokes: Umm. Hmm. I don’t know. I was so menial. [laughter] Umm no. I don’t think so. But anyway, I was just in this little closet, it really wasn’t a fun internship when I was there. But anyway, so I was on deadline and I had to check this top story and I was like, what, I can’t finish it, so I just called Tom Clancy, and I fact checked all the stuff with him. He just answered, hello, and I’m just like oh hi, I’m calling to fact check, how old are you, this and that. You’re really not supposed to fact check with you source. But at the time I just had to get it done and that’s when I realized, you just have to just…
Joe Molko (Moderator): So the rugged individualism of Hopkins rewards you. Do you want to chip in on that Vicky?
Vivianne Njoku: Yeah. It’s funny, I’ve heard that echoed like from Song to everyone else down and hands down that was also what I gained most from Hopkins was just, autonomy. You know like figuring out, whether it was the film festival, like figuring out how to organize that, where to have spaces to view, etc. The first time I ever touched a drum kit was at Hopkins, I asked around and figured out where there was like a practice kit to go to. No one minded, it was always just, lock the door when you’re done. All the little things, it was just a great place to really, figure out what you want to, and we were also there (I graduated in 2002) when the Mattin Center, the digital art center, when it opened. There was some sort of competition, it really wasn’t much of a competition to be honest, but just some sort of chance to exhibit something that was digital and new, and my friend and I proposed some sort of avatar where you can like control it, using a computer screen, you control it somewhere else. Mattin Center was like great, do it. That was the whole attitude then, and I completely agree in post Hopkins life, that sort of resourcefulness, if you can think it, start to make it happen, and everything will kind of fall in line afterward. That has been a huge asset to my kind of personal motivation.
Francesco Clark: I totally agree, if you can make it at Hopkins, then New York…[laughter]. I think…
Joe Molko (Moderator): It’s like an ad for an admissions office right here [laughter].
Francesco Clark: Well I just think that, and not to put the school down, but there’s a sink or swim kind of attitude where you have to figure it out by yourself. And I’m sure you all watched the Golden Globes and Lena won for that show Girls and she’s so young and she went to Oberlin. She started her career herself and she wrote an independent movie herself, Tiny Furniture, and she’s one of the youngest people to have won who is a producer, writer, director, and actress. So, you didn’t really see that in 1985 or 1988 and that’s what’s very different right now, so when you were talking about authors before, I don’t know necessarily if it’s easier or if it’s more calculated now. In order for you to be an author, now, in 2013, to write a book and to have this 200,000 followers on twitter and have a blog that everybody reads, you’re pretty much starting a full time job that is so successful with your eye on writing a book that’s going to be even more successful and yet no body reads, and yet nobody reads books anymore.
Joe Molko (Moderator): They don’t have to read it, just buy it [laughter].
Francesco Clark: So there’s this kind of dichotomy between I love writing, I want to write, how do I get people to read, how do I get this deal kind of thing. So there’s the business side of it, which is very much about numbers. Then there’s the actual writing, and at the end of the day, for me, what came down to it for me, actually writing. And you know, even just writing two pages a day, every single day, and then meeting with my agent and sending a manuscript to my agent meant that while I working on the skin care line, which I didn’t realize would help the book, but almost like living your life while you’re doing something else would turn out to help the writing. So it’s kind of about incorporating every aspect of who you are with your art, if you look at it like art.
Joe Molko (Moderator): So, that’s good, I want to stay with you for a second because I think that you actually had sort of a great thing to stress at the end because I think a lot of people in this room, particularly people that are motivated in careers in the arts of creative careers think what the hell do I do with a first job, where do I go? And I think you sort of struggled with that leaving Hopkins. So how did you decide (A) I’m going to look to the magazine business and the place to start a career and (b) how did you ultimately secure a job?
Francesco Clark: Okay so, this is a very interesting story. When I graduated I was recruited to work in Chicago for, I hope no one is in the room that works there, but this online.com that makes websites for law firms. It was really, they were so great, everybody that worked there was awesome, but the job itself, was kind of like, okay I’m going to make this really fun website for another law firm. And I am, and I don’t know what I’m going to tell my parents that I’m going to do for the rest of my life. So I did that for about 4 months, 5 months, and then 6 months, and then I realized that I was hating my life. I had three; I had a couple promises to myself when I was a senior at Hopkins. They were I was going to live in a city I had never lived in and I want to do something that I don’t know how to do. So Chicago I had never lived in and I didn’t know how to build websites, so those were two things that I learned, however, in doing that I realized that was not me. And a friend of mine of working at [….] and she was telling me all these Devil Wears Prada stories and all these crazy anecdotes of her daily goings on. And I just sent in my resume to the director of HR. Literally I just sent in my resume. It was snowing on October 6th in Chicago and I didn’t get a call back after a week and so I called her. And she said no, we got your resume, umm Stella, who is not there anymore. Umm and I said okay did you look at my resume and she said yes, we are very interested. I kind of thought that was a bullshit answer so I waited another 4 days and then I called her back and she said okay, we’d like to interview you Thanksgiving weekend, which is perfect, because I was going to be home in New York anyway. So I interviewed at GQ and Mademoiselle and they both offered me jobs the next day and I kind of felt like okay, so I’m going to go back to New York, which job am I going to take? GQ was working in fashion and I wanted to work in media, let me just preempt all of this by saying like, oh my goodness, magazines are so interesting and it sounds like fun and oh I get to buy clothes for a dollar. I don’t know, I didn’t know what to think. So GQ offered me a job in the fashion department and Mademoiselle offered me a job as the assistant to the Special Project’s director. So what that means is that you’re going to the Oscars, the Golden Globes, you’re booking the celebrities for the front cover and doing the movie reviews and finding out who the next top models would be. And I took that one, obviously, instead of just the fashion job. So I worked at Mademoiselle and when I was there everybody would talk, there were rumors that the magazine wasn’t doing well and the thing about magazines is that when they get really skinny and really thin you start to worry because there’s not a lot of advertisers and that means there’s not a lot of money going into the magazine so I started to believe the rumors after a while. So I started to, after a year, send my resume out and I started to interview at other magazines and one of them was Harper’s Bazaar and I interviewed there and it went really well and I remember there was a Brittany Spears cover called a […] and my boss was like oh, let’s look at this issue and I said I would die to work there. And I had just interviewed there the day before. So she didn’t know that I did that. But anyway, they offered me a job a week later, and the week after that was 9/11. And 9/11 in the publishing world was a huge blow, along with the rest of the business world, but 4 major advertisers pulled out of, not only […] but also Hearst. So they lost pretty much, Mademoiselle lost, I think 5 million dollars in one day, the day after 9/11. So the magazine shut down. That’s how quickly media reacts to world events. So if you don’t like poly-science or international relations, I mean, you kind of have to know what’s going on regardless, but this world event changed more than 180 people’s employment, just from what I knew of.
Joe Molko (Moderator): It’s interesting, the common thread, that’s why I’m curious about you. It seems you started your career and went a very different way. I mean, whether it’s me being remarkably uncontroversial with how I started my career or Francesco who sort of went and just got a job. How did you ultimately make the transition and decide what to do when you left Hopkins? That just sort of sounds like a delayed moment when you’re standing there in May and you’re sort of like what the f**k am I going to do?
Matt Gross: Yea that’s a great question. I have a totally uninteresting story. I had no idea what I was doing. I graduated with an English degree and a minor in film studies and the whole time I was thinking I have a lot of student loan debt to pay off, but I’m here in college, I’m surrounded by really interesting people. I have resources to do interesting things and then I graduated and I took a really depressing job at American Apparel [laughter].
Joe Molko (Moderator): Going into stores, it doesn’t seem that depressing [laughter].
Matt Gross: Umm. Drinking Four Loco in a stock room, like, can only be great for so long [laughter]. So I was doing that, I was interning at a publisher in Baltimore and managing these communities of small business handcraft artisms. And I was finding interesting things about each of the jobs but just knew that I did not want to be doing what I was doing in that way for more than a couple of months. But while I was in school I took all these internships, I interned at the city paper, interned at a PR boutique, just read a lot about Baltimore, read a lot about industries and that was part of my job at this boutique and it just involved keeping in touch with also all these innovative or so-called innovative companies and they were hiring so I saw an opportunity for a job at an online public school. I don’t know what that looks like, that seems pretty interesting, so I went to check it out and I started working there and I just realized I’m in this situation where I think I’ve figured out how to do this job in its current form within the first month and came across another opportunity because I was always on the lookout for interesting things in Baltimore. I lucked upon an opportunity to work with local radio producer. And that just really opened up my world and helped me explore these ideas that I was interested in, with acknowledging culture that’s made all these people that I thought were doing interesting things with social justice, with start-ups and just really getting a sense of what they were doing and what was going through there heads and sort of a little bit of their personal stories and that was really inspirational and I would basically have this day job and spend most of my time trying to figure out how to write these stories for the radio. So it was just a matter of balancing all these passions and interests and staying curious while I was just trying to pay the bills. And from there I guess I just sort of took all these different jobs that just came up that seemed totally desperate, looking back, in hindsight, it seemed to make a little more sense but at the time I really didn’t know what I was going to do in the next two years. I just knew I was interested in something new and I really wanted to master what I was doing. But I also wanted to explore something knew and opportunities would just keep happening.
Joe Molko (Moderator): So it seems like you didn’t really have a north star, like I know I want to be in the social media space, running a consultancy, how did that sort of emerge?
Matt Gross: No, I mean it wasn’t anything at Hopkins. I was using early social media platforms put up things I just naturally sort of loved and was interested in. Things like WJHU college radio and Hopkins Film Festival. I was doing, I guess what you would call social media promotion now on Friendster and MakeoutFun, and things that you have never heard of, and the JHU daily Jolt. I was just always interested in spreading the word about these things I was really interested and passionate about. I would find new mediums to sort of express that and connect people.
Joe Molko (Moderator): It’s interesting because it was just, Matt, it feels like you always had a vision, like from the time you were at campus you knew you wanted to be a writer, you may not have known exactly but as opposed to the rest of us who are like stumbling around not sure what to do.
Matt Gross: Are you kidding?
Joe Molko (Moderator): Well come on; tell us about it.
Matt Gross: Okay well apparently I always knew I was going to be a writer. Well do you want to tell the story?
Joe Molko (Moderator): No, no, you tell the story[laughter].
Matt Gross: Okay, I was a writing sems. Major but I started as a math major. And I spent my first two years taking math classes, a couple writing sems. classes but I was a math major but then I realized that although I was pretty good at math I was never really going to be a mathematician. There are levels in math, some people get stuck at calculus and that’s there stumbling block and that was me. I had a fun time with calculus but there was some other stuff, abstract algebra that just knocked me out and I realized maybe two classes before I finished the math major that it just wasn’t going to happen. So I switched to writing sems. because I like to write. And then I graduated and in one way I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I did not understand the media landscape at all. I figured I was going to write novels, and then something, and then success. Just like the underwear gnomes in South Park [laughter]. And so, I did what anyone in that position would do, I moved to Vietnam, right after graduation. I was 1996 and Vietnam had just restored diplomatic relations after 21 and a half years and I moved to Ho Chi Minh City, the former Sigon and tried to figure out what the hell I was going to do there. I chose Vietnam because I like the food. If you’re going to live in a foreign country, you really have to like the food because you’re going to eat it everyday. And at first, for the first couple of months I taught English because that’s what you do when you’re unqualified to do anything else in a foreign country where everyone doesn’t speak English. But then I realized I hated teaching English. It was like performing in a play where you’re the only one who knows your lines and you have to say your lines in such a way that your students automatically say the right lines in response and it was just awful. So I had heard that, I was living in Sigon in the south, and I heard there was a film festival going on in the north. And so I flew up there and I went to the offices of the Vietnam news, the daily, English language, state run newspaper, which was heavy on the Vietnam and light on the news. And I went in and said hey, I want to cover this film festival for you. And they said oh, oh great, our features page editor just quit, so you can have her page [laughter]. So, you know, for the next two and a half weeks I had my own page to write reviews and accounts of the goings on at this ridiculous film festival. It was fantastic, I was writing, and I got paid to write and I had my own page and I could kind of do whatever I wanted. And after that, I moved back down south, I got an editing job at the paper’s bureau down there, I started freelancing for a Billboard’s magazine, and I thought, oh, I don’t have to be a novelist and make millions of dollars that way. I can work as a daily journalist and make enough money to buy food and pay the rent. And this was like a totally ridiculous experience to have. But it really helped when, a couple years later I moved to New York, again, I still had no idea how things actually worked in the media here. I started sending a resume around and I got hired at a magazine called Shoot, which was a trade paper covering the TV commercial production and post-production industry. And I got a job as a copy editor there, because I had worked in Vietnam correcting the English in these stories. And it was just sort of amazing, I actually asked the woman who hired me a few weeks into the job, well why me? She said, well, you had copy-editing experience in Vietnam news.
Joe Molko (Moderator): Did you just like sort of came back and sent a lot of resumes out? How did you get the job? How did you ultimately find that opportunity? You read the Classified?
Matt Gross: Yes, the New York Times ran things called Classified Ads [laughter]
Joe Molko (Moderator): Yeah I’m sorry, I just dated myself.
Matt Gross: No, I know. This is how different it was. It’s that you, there were a couple internet job boards, but there was really nothing there and you would look at the paper every week, the Sunday Times, or the Village Voice when it came out on Tuesday nights and you would look for these publishing jobs. And they would have, you know, an actually address that you would send your resume to. Sometimes they wouldn’t say what, or who the company was that was hiring, it would be like a short description. You know, toddy wanted. You must be willing to work for peanuts in publishing and well; I need a job. That’s actually how I got my second job. I was interviewed by a managing editor at a news website called Foxnews.com. I must have sent it to one of these blind P.O. boxes and 6 months later they dragged it out and called me. This is how different it is now.
Joe Molko (Moderator): I’m curious if anyone in the panel could talk about, though, how you might have used networking to sort of make a change in your career? Because I sort of think right now, it’s definitely important and something we should sort of touch on before we go to questions. Particularly in this sort of economic environment, how important it is, whether it’s Hopkins or whatever sort of relationship you have to use networking to find other opportunities. Do you want to take a crack at it?
Elena Stokes: Sure, umm. I feel like it’s a double-edged sword because you don’t want to be in the mind frame where, you know, where you’re constantly like who can I talk to. You know but at the same time if you don’t strike up conversations and let people know where you are, you know what’s going on with you, then you’re constantly missing opportunities. So, similarly, I feel like we all are telling the same story. You have to like, go out there. When it was 2003 and I moved to Los Angeles and I was like I’m going to be a filmmaker and everyone was like what? And I was like, I’m going to do it, I’m going to write a script and they’re going to pay me a lot of money.
Joe Molko (Moderator): Was that after Hopkins? Where were you? How long…?
Elena Stokes: Just after Hopkins. It was my senior year, John Astin had just come. I thought at Hopkins, it was a great point. The Mattin center had just started, Astin had just come that year and he was like taking the art world by storm because it didn’t exist and he was creating it. And so he was just really a wonderful presence to really talk about real life strategies. I remember him telling me, you cannot be creative if you’re struggling to pay your bills and that resonated with me. You know you’re 20, 21 and you’re like what are you talking about? I’m going to rock this (laughter). I went out to LA, I saved some money, I was fortunate enough I was working for Hopkins. Doing research was so, like whoa, I did that. I saved some money, moved to LA and literally went through ads, at the time the internet was a little more prolific. You know, I cold called a bunch of people, you know, I like your work, what you guys are producing, I want to come work for you, I’ll be a grunt, whatever it may be. And then once you get your foot in the door, then it’s a matter of, okay, I’m here now, this is what I actually want to do. You know the time I started taking some film classes out in LA and I would literally come in with my reel and gather producers around, you know like, some of them like measly logging tapes and I was like, you guys want to see what I shot? You know, because I actually want to do this. And I showed up and kept having that conversation with people and then, you’re in the front of their mind. And they’re like, we do kind of have this entry level editing position or something and they’re said, you want to do this. I’m like yea sure. And little by little, I was transitioning out of that world of television and film production as a whole. Everything was a whole to-do but I was realizing I wanted to go more into working with youth and doing something more fulfilling for me. Same thing, if you aren’t actively communicating with people, no matter where you are, you know people are like I’m actually looking to get into this. Here in New York City, I moved here because I was just like, I’m coming to New York. I had been doing arts education for a while and I wasn’t quite sure how to fit in here in this new city and just through conversation, you know, saying to someone, I’ve been doing arts education, I don’t know how to get my foot in the door and someone said oh, actually, you know what, I’m with the Tribec Film Institute and we are just now hiring so maybe I’ll send your resume across. So there’s no, there’s really no limit to how far you can take yourself when you are just vocal. You’re just vocal and you’re focused and yea, your own best PR.
Joe Molko (Moderator): A last question I want to open it up to, and I know we have a lot of questions, but I think it’s interesting; one thing we haven’t touched on is graduate school. You went to graduate school. So can you talk a little bit about making the decision? Did you go directly to graduate school right after Hopkins?
Elena Stokes: No. So I went to Hopkins, I got my writing and anthropology degree. And then I too was supposed to go to another country to teach English (laughter).
Matt Gross: Glad you didn’t, it would have been a disaster!
Elena Stokes: I know. I was supposed to go to Spain and teach English so then I went to England, but you know, you couldn’t really teach English there. So I worked the full-right commission there and I lived in this awesome Norwegian embassy that was condemned. And it was awesome; I lived in the best area of England, in London. The staircase, like you couldn’t go up it because it was tearing from the wall. But all these things, they will end up making you who you are. It’s almost like you become your own brand. That’s what I would say to you guys, it’s that, it’s like you were saying before. You want to write a book, you can’t just go out and write a book, you have to think about how you package yourself into that, you’re going to be writing a blog and this and that. And so all these experiences, so I came back from London and I went into publishing. I saw an ad in the paper and I was going to be an editorial assistant because everyone that goes into publishing wants to be an editor first. But they had a PR job available so I did that. So I was doing that for two years, and I enjoyed it, but then I wanted to go back to grad school because I just was like, man I’m working so hard for $20,000 a year and no one appreciates me. I really did think this. And it’s weird, because when you’re that age, you’re working so hard and you have so many great ideas and “no ones even listening to me.” That’s how I felt. So I went back to NYU and I went to get my degree in linguistics and anthropology and I was going to get a PHD and I was going to move to Mexico and I was going to be like speaking Mayan (laughter). But ironically, I kept the job I felt unappreciated at, which was McMillan. I kept working there, you know, freelancing. And I ended up getting into an interdisciplinary program, which they still have at NYU called the draper program. I highly recommend that actually. It was, at that time, like interdisciplinary, like what is that concept? Now which now, everything is. It was great, because you could go in and take all these PHD classes and you could kind of like sneak in with a PHD and so I started taking anthropology, like with the PHDs. And I got see, and I was like wait a second, everyone else speaks 4 languages, they were like a quarter French and a quarter German and I was like wait, I only have English and Spanish. So silly things like that I realized I was at a disadvantage and I actually went back into publishing but I really do feel like that graduate degree in interdisciplinary with linguistics and anthology, it has helped me. It really has helped me so much, like just the perspective, going back and learning new things, and also linguistics it’s so careful like how you need to speak and listen and I did my Master’s thesis on a court case and basically how people present their case in court and it’s really helped me as a publicist to be honest with you. And so I went back and I stayed with McMillan for a long time but everything that happens, it really does happen for a reason. You take those experiences and you shape them because I was happy there. I was a publicity director, but I was starting a family, and at the same time, you might start your company like right when you’re out. It looks like some of these guys started their companies earlier, I didn’t start my company until 2008, after I had had my second child and I left McMillan because I wanted that flexibility. And now I have three kids, three little kids and a business and you know what? That networking, that constant networking, constantly meeting people, going to things you find interesting, having that crazy experience in London, having my linguistics degree, you bring it to bear in what you do. So no matter what you end up doing, it’s not like you’re giving up on your dream, like you wanted to be a writer or something and you work in publishing for a little bit. You’ll learn how to market yourself. I have like 5 books that I’m working on that are all like 10 pages long. But I have the contacts. Like if I actually write that book, I know editors and publicists. Like last year this author contacted me, I don’t do self-pub too much, because it’s very difficult, the media, you know, they kind of look for gatekeepers like editors and stuff like that. And so self-pub is very difficult for the media, like oh, I already have so much, now who is this random person? But I did help this person out, but I hated their covers so I said, I’ll take all three books but I’m changing the covers and I’m rewriting the copy, and I’m billing your website and I just thought I’d do everything because I hated their brand. And you know what? It was great, BNN ended up taking their book into the stores, so I guess grad school, and it’s not exactly very linear. I didn’t like take that linguistics degree and…I did actually want to teach at NYU, that was my initial goal. But my teacher (…), love her to death, she showed me. She said, let me just show you Lena. They had a teaching position open and it was like 5,000 resumes in like 2 days. And she was just saying it’s really hard to get a linguistics professor shift. So that is why I went back into publishing, but I really love it, it’s worked out great.
Joe Molko (Moderator): Fantastic. There’s so much information here, we definitely want to have a lot of time to take questions. So floor is open for the collective audience, if not I have a lot more questions to ask the panel. So does anyone have a question, like to kick it off? Anybody? If not I’m going to ask more questions. That would be boring…yes? In the back. Trepid question asker.
Audience Member: I agree that one of the things that Hopkins gives you, that is very precious, is that they accomplish initiative; that you have to be on your own. That the only way to make a difference is to find it inside yourself, what is special, and bring it to a form. I appreciate at that has been said, but I am curious to know whether they think in their struggles, because there is always a struggle, whether they found out maybe there was something like Hopkins could give to them and they didn’t get. Not only to look at the wonderful experience, and I had a wonderful experience at Hopkins, in 4 years I got three graduate degrees. And I also had a great time socially…(many people talking at once)…I would like to know whether you think is there something you would have liked Hopkins to have done that they didn’t do.
Joe Molko (Moderator): Let me take a first stab at that because I think the panel, everybody probably has a different answer. Both myself and when I see Hopkins student come to me, and Hopkins students reach out for a job, or I know other students. I just want to say 3 things to the undergraduate students in this room right now. The first thing is, and I think someone has mentioned this before, if you’re reaching out to me, you should have a story. Why should I hire you? Because the truth is, 3,000 resumes, that’s actually not an exaggeration. We have internships at MTV, the numbers of resumes, and everybody is amazing and outstanding, or unbelievable. So the first thing is, you better have a story, why should we be interested in you. And the second thing I would say is that networking is so critical. Like I don’t think you guys truly understand how hard you have to work to get a job. And I think that’s something at Hopkins didn’t really, the first part of the story, it’s something that Hopkins, I mean it’s just not taught by I think most career services, but Hopkins definitely doesn’t do it. Second thing is, how hard you actually then have to work to get a job. How many people you have to call, how many people you have to follow up, we’re all very busy, so if you just send me one email and you’re just like, Joey never responded. You know that’s not good enough. Send me 5 emails, you know, don’t worry; eventually I’ll get to it. So that’s the second thing, and the last thing is, when you’re there, how to present yourself. I mean, I don’t think anybody up here is a stickler, and if you’re in this area, I mean, this is not banking.
But there is a certain level of professionalism that we expect so I think that that would be the third thing I would encourage you to do. Treat interviews and every opportunity to interact, with whether it’s an alum, or an inquiry-type interview, treat it seriously. Treat it like something that could change your life. Because it is! It actually is. So those are my 3 lessons that I wanted to get off my chest today. So does anyone else have anything that Hopkins didn’t do for you? So we’re in the gripe part of the session now.
Francesco Clark: But I think that we’re working on it is connecting you to all graduates and recent graduates and that’s what we’re working on with the second-decade society is kind of connecting you with career services with if you want a job at MTV or if you want a job at Vogue or wherever. So connecting you and giving you that kind of road, for you to show your initiative. So for me, as a business owner, I really like whenever people show like passion and an initiative. Because if you don’t have that then I don’t really see the need to pay you a salary. And it makes me question why you want to work with me and looking at it from the other side of the spectrum, kind of look at it like your dream job would be like applying to college. So your dream job is there, like you’re applying to Hopkins, and Harvard, and Yale, and Princeton. Well why should they take you? And they might not always place ads, they might not always place ads saying that they have applicants, because most of them don’t have time to do that. And even if they don’t have time, they always have applicants sending in resumes anyway. So if you want to work somewhere, you have to tell them that you want to work there and why. They might not have an opening today, but you can intern there and they will have an opening in 3 months.
Joe Molko (Moderator): Let’s make one last point on something that you didn’t learn at Hopkins, that you wish Hopkins had filled you in on.
Elena Stokes: This is a little more to your point, it’s kind of on that but I had had some Hopkins students reach out to me in the past and they wrote me an email and I took the time and I responded and they never responded back to me. And that’s really like honestly seven, but I actually complained to the Hopkins career center. I was like are you kidding me? It was midnight, and I was pitching, and I was like oh, here are some Hopkins students, let me help them on a second-decade of society and then they didn’t even respond to me back! So I just think that, when I was there, it was easier to get a job, don’t you guys agree? I mean it was, right, it was. I mean, I interviewed at publishing and you heard yours like, oh then I decided to do this job and this job, I did too! I was like, okay, I refuse to work for $19,000, and okay I’ll work for $20,000. And I mean, it was like, I had 4 different job opportunities in publishing and now I think, and when I came out of Hopkins I had done so much, I had a degree, I had done 4 internships, I am a catch. And I think that, you have to think that in one respect, but at the same time you have to be like it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and how do I differentiate myself? And I do think Hopkins, when I was there, the career services, connection, like I didn’t know of it, I didn’t know of second-decade society. If there was one there, and I didn’t know how many people in this room know a second-decade society or did know 6 months ago and I don’t know how to change that. But I feel like Hopkins is getting better with that.
Joe Molko (Moderator): No, they are. And one thing I would add, I mean you guys are your own, I mean if you want to pursue a career in competitive area, like any of these areas, like it’s up to you to go find the opportunities. They’re just not going to be handed to you. If you’re not even willing to do that now, like what are you going to do 10 years from now, when it’s super competitive? So I think that it’s incumbent on you to reach out at people here, to other alumni in the industry, until you get the door open for you. Other questions in the room?
Audience Member: So you mentioned like a really important part is how you represent yourself in an interview and also telling your story, but I’m sure a lot of people have stories and it takes a lot to get into the actual interview, so what would you say are some processes and steps you can take in order to get your resume on the top of the pile to even get into the interview stage?
Joe Molko (Moderator): I would start with the people on this panel; I would start with alumni. I mean the networking is how you’re going to get your foot in the door anywhere. I mean, I’ll give you a perfect example. So if you wanted to be a creator on the television side, you know, I know there’s a lot more high level pursuits than making Jersey Shore, but let’s assume you want to do that. What do you want to do?
Audience Member: I’m interested in writing for television.
Joe Molko (Moderator): Well there you go. So I mean there’s lots of ways to get in. But I think the easiest way to get in is to find internships that get you connections so you can make relationships. Then you have to maintain those relationships. And it’s hard. And you have to do that hard work over time, that ultimately, when a job opens up, that person knows you, and knows how hard you’ve worked in that internship, that ultimately you find a way in. There’s 50 other ways I’m sure, but the way that I’ve seen that is most successful, is just that way of getting your foot in the door through an internship, building as many relationships as you can and continuing to work those relationships.
Elena Stokes: You know what, just exactly what he said, but also, this is something tricky. HR cannot be very helpful. If you try to send you resume directly to HR it’s not really a good thing. In publishing these days, I know, for example, Randomhouse does not have an internship program at all, it’s suspended right now. I know, McMillen does. But, if you go right to McMillen HR, they have a stack like this big. But if you know someone in one of the publishing divisions, they can then contact HR, and say, “I want to hire Julie Smith. She looks great.” And you will get that internship. But if you go through HR always, it’s really hard. So know the person in divisions. Look up those divisions. If you know anyone, your mom’s friend, you had coffee with her. Don’t go through HR if you can help it.
Vivianne Kjoku: Totally. And to piggy-back on to that, if you do find yourself in a position, and you do have to hit it from all angles, networking is important, but I firmly believe in cold calling. It’s been so successful for me, from both angles. If you find yourself in a position where you’re blasting out your resume, do something special with your resume. We are a visual culture, like it or not. Don’t just find a generic, word-template resume. Do something that makes it pop to grab attention. If it’s appropriate to include a headshot, do that. Make it a nice headshot. Really go above and beyond. Over-achieve. It’s always better to show up over-dressed than under-dressed, right? Take that same mindset into how you present yourself.
Francesco Clark: Um. What is your name? That wants to work in TV.
Female Audience Member: Sherry.
Francesco Clark: You should talk to Joey after. That’s a direct connection. Like, that’s a networking example. You should tell your story to him, and you probably have your resume with you. If not you can email it in three days. And you can explain what you want to do. So that’s kind of an example of: you’ve just met an alumni, I want to work where you work, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. I was in charge of hiring all of the interns at Harper’s Bazar. Nobody knew I was in charge of hiring interns, but any student, or anybody, would ask for an internship it would come to me. And I would have to filter through, we would get about 200 resumes a week, and I would meet with as many as I could or email them. But if you are persistent, you will get an interview. So more than three emails, and sometimes a phone call, after the three emails will show interest. It will show them you’re interested in the job.
Vivianne Njoku: Just a really quick point I just remembered: clean up your Facebook pages or make a separate one. Because they are looking, do not get caught. [laughter]
Francesco Clark: Yeah. Absolutely. We’ve had a lot of instances of that where people have been extended offers pending background checks and background checks have come back with horrendous stuff. So, seriously, show some good judgment there. If you show bad judgment there, there how can we trust you with anything else at our company?
Matt Gross: I was going to throw out the free-lance version of this. If you’re not looking for a job, but you’re trying to get in as a freelance writer or whatever, two things, if you’re looking at magazines and newspapers to pitch stories to, don’t look to the top of the masthead. Look to the people that are one step above you: the editorial assistants, the slaves. [laughter] Ask them who you should be pitching stories to. The people way high up have no time for you and will not respond to your emails. But, the person who is a year or two older than you, who was where you were not very long ago, will be able to direct you to the right person who will give you tons of advice. The other thing is, in order to network and meet these people that you hope to be working for and with, at least in New York, just spend a lot of time in bars. For virtually every type of writer, food writers, travel writers, whatever, there is some sort of regular gathering at some particular bar. For a while it was The Magician, on Stanton street in east village where the bloggers all hung out. There was a monthly thing for travel writers at Lolita Bar on the lower east side. Basically just go to bars on the lower east side, [laughter] and you can meet everyone involved in New York media. But don’t take any social media acquiring device. No photographs. [laughter] But that’s how it works you just have drinks with these people and you become friends with them.
Franceso Clark: What about Media Bistro?
Matt Gross: Media Bistro is good for looking for stories, but their parties are always sort of déclassé, sort of too network focused. People are like: who can I give my card to, who can I get a card from? They’re worth going to because sometimes they have free drinks. [laughter] But, don’t rely on them too heavily.
Matt Gross: Just to sort of reframe what I said in a different way. I really hate the word networking. Because it has this connotation of just going to a room and just telling your story without understanding the other person, and just shoving your card at someone. And for all the opportunities I’ve had, they were never traditionally advertised opportunities. Like when I first got into the world of of advertising and social media, I was just actually playing Magic the Gathering in a bar. I was just curious about what other people were doing with their lives and where we intersected, and what we have in common. From there you can really just gain a sense of—Like, all the people that I’ve helped get jobs, were people that I had known from very casual situations, but we’ve had overlapping interests. It’s just so much easier to get a job when you know people, you get along with people, you have things in common, you can joke, you have common interests, you know where people hang out casually. And over time they will be really valuable to you. Your friends that are acquaintances of friends that are doing something really interesting, are they people that will be able to give you advice. Also, when you have a real genuine interest in what they’re doing, it’s possible for you to create opportunities and find ways in which your talents overlap with what they’re looking for.
Joe Molko: I just want to add one last thing. So in my department we’ve hired four assistants in the last 6 weeks; all of them were friends with people in my department. So look to your friends, look to your high school friends because that’s really how it happens.
Peggy O’Riely (Audience): Hi, Peggy O’Riely. Just a couple of suggestions for our younger people. 80% of jobs are never advertised. Keep that in mind. And go ahead, send a letter to the president or CEO of the company. Just make sure you don’t have any misspellings and it’s on very elegant stationary, and ask for an interview. What do you have to lose? I’ve made some excellent introductions that way. Also, professional organizations, things like NY Women in Communications, PR Society of America. There are a ton of them out there, and they have monthly meetings and things. Utilize them because they will certainly want to help you. And a lot of these women’s organizations are also open to men, and friendly. So go for it.
Joe Molko: I think we have time for one more question. But we’re all staying, we’re not going anywhere. We’re to talk. Anybody?
Francesco Clark: Can we do a quick poll? By raise of hands who wants to work in TV? Who wants to work in publishing? Who wants to work in radio? Online? I think what we want to know is the rest of you, who don’t know, who are undecided, and kind of how to help you. It’s easier for us to help those of you who know what they want. But for those who don’t, we’ve all been there. So we want to help guide you through that system, and those paths. So, if you’re vocal about, I don’t know what I want to do. I like this and I like this, but I don’t know how to make money in that. Ask that.
Audience Member: In that vein, I guess the problem is not, that we know exactly what we want to do, and can’t make money off it. But we are interested in so many things, and there are so many opportunites, but we don’t think we’re qualified. You all have these amazing paths and you got them in all these cool ways, but we can’t mimick exactly what you did. And we don’t know what’s in store for us, so it’s great to have this curiousity and passion but I guess, I’m always second guessing myself and where do we go from graduation?
Francesco Clark: What year are you?
Audience Member: I am this year’s class. I just graduated.
Francesco Clark: I feel like where you are now is where all of us were. Everybody had a major, and unless you were engineering or premed or going to law school- I’ve even seen a lot of engineers and lawyers change their jobs, so don’t freak out about that. But, nobody knows what they are actually going to do for the rest of their lives. Because when you’re a senior, you feel like: oh that’s going to be the rest of my life? SO what the hell am I going to do from now until I’m 65 or whatever? But it’s not like that. One of the best things that you can do is just see what you like doing. If you could have 10 hours doing whatever you wanted every day, what would you do? Would you write? Would you act? When you ask yourselves those questions you’ll start to discover: yeah I don’t want to be an accountant. You start to cross out what you don’t like, and you start to focus on what you do like. And then it doesn’t have to be the job you have for the rest of your life. You can just try it for a little bit and then move on to a more focused career after that.
Elena Stokes: And not only that, but you’re definitely not going to be there for that long. You better not be. But it will help you. Majorie Ann Lou, she’s a dynamic beautiful person. She’s brilliant. She’s a lawyer, and good thing she want because she’s in the man dominated industry, right, for Marvel. And she’s an Asian-American, gorgeous woman and she’s kicking their butts. And every one of my writers was 10,000 different things that made them a better writer. They were all doing something else. One of them was in a rock band, one of them does improve every night. Every single person was multi-talented and they would be doing a totally random job for 1-2 years. And at that point you’re like oh my god my mom is going to kill me, what am I going to do? But after a while you’re like what an amazing brand I’ve put together, because I’ve don’t all of these things. It doesn’t have to look scattered and weird, because it will all come together. You can figure out what you want to do by doing those jobs.
Francesco Clark: But also, PR is not a major at Hopkins, and owning a skincare line is not a major. A lot of our jobs are not majors at Hopkins so I think that’s the part that a lot of us beat ourselves up about. Because a lot of us would never realize that I love PR, and how would I know unless I took that risk, and took that internship and tried it.
Matt Gross: And by the way, whether it’s your 1st or 2nd job. Just because it’s not the job you’re going to have forever, doesn’t mean you’re not going to learn really important skills there. Like, learn how to write, learn how to be organized, learn how to be a professional. That’s so critical whatever you chose to do. So one thing I always preach is if we just teach you that in 1 or 2 years and you decide to leave. Then we’ve done right by you and you’ve taken advantage of the opportunity. Thank you, guys!
Francesco CLark: If all else fails, go live in a cheap country for a while. [laugter]
Elena Thompson: We have a dinner after this. Just so everyone can get a chance to talk after this wonderful conversation. So I’m, just going to take 2 seconds. My name is Elena Thompson. I work in central alumni relations at Hopkins and I work with Ridia Anderson on building affinity communities and groups and so our AEN Affinity groups is one of our new groups that has come online. It’s a way to connect alumni and students and friends of Hopkins and parents around common backgrounds, subject matters, interests, passions. There are some members of the group here. It would be fabulous for students who are coming out of Hopkins to connect with some of those people. Maybe you guys can just stand really quickly if you’re part of the committee. We have a closed Facebook group, so just try to take advantage of that. I want to thank out panelists and our moderator for being here tonight and sharing their stories. I know there’s a lot they didn’t get a chance to talk about. I would really like to take a chance to thank Neil for hosting the event. Thank you all of you for being here tonight.