My journey from intern to employee
During the second semester of my junior year at Cornell University, the mad dash of securing an internship was well underway across campus, and to be honest, I was a little nervous because I had yet to obtain one. After networking with a few alumni, I was able to check off “find an internship before I go insane” on my to-do list. The official title of the position was “Ad Sales and Integrated Marketing Intern” and, at the time, I didn't know what “ad sales” and “integrated marketing” meant.
After the semester ended, I had about a month before I had to report to AMC Network’s New York headquarters. This was my first corporate experience, so I was a little uneasy. Before starting the job, I tested my commute into the city from Lagrangeville, New York (my hometown). It was not terrible; I drove to the train station; rode the train for eighty minutes; took the shuttle from Grand Central Station to Times Square; and walked fifteen blocks to 11 Penn Plaza, which is right across the street from Madison Square Garden. Because I took the time to learn my daily commute, I felt a lot better and was eager for my first day of the internship.
Throughout the program, I worked alongside brilliant people in the Ad Sales and Integrated Marketing team, who gave me the opportunity to work on campaigns such as the Better Call Saul and Acura Bingo partnerships. I even played a role in coming up with final aspects for The Walking Dead and Mountain Dew augmented reality partnership that launched just ahead of the show’s ninth season. I also conducted client and competitive social media reports, created custom one-sheets for shows such as Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, and even helped pitch ideas used in the Sundance Film Festival.
All of this sounds high stakes. But, as an intern, you are not in the hot seat like when you are a full-time employee (more on this in a little bit). I was placed on a superstar team and each member took the time to help me understand what their role was and how their position impacted the other team members and the network. They oversaw my work and were there to help me correct any mistakes and show me the right course of action. After this experience, I knew what I wanted to do after graduation: return to AMC as a full-time employee.
After graduating in May 2018, I was constantly checking the AMC Networks career page for opportunities while staying connected with the team I had worked with. It took almost a year before I finally landed a full-time position as an analyst in the Research Department.
I was elated! I was back at a company that felt like “home” and working with people I knew. However, I was going to be navigating an uncharted territory: research. I knew research involved analyzing Nielsen television data that would be used by departments across the networks to help make decisions around what combination of movies and shows would increase the likelihood of strong viewership for a certain day. However, I soon learned research was a lot more than just looking at Nielsen data all day.
Some of my responsibilities included updating program trackers on shows like Top Gear and all of BBC America’s summer nature content, maintaining BBC America’s myEVNTS system, and creating and sending a chart of BBC America’s overnight ratings performances to employees in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Keeping BBC America’s myEVNTS page updated and doing it right was extremely important. I had to go in and manually add each program’s run time, on which day it was airing, and if the program had any special tags. All this was to inform Nielsen what was airing on the network, so they could accurately measure the program’s performance. In turn, we, as a research department, could pull data and garner insights on how a certain program performed.
Now, here’s how the stakes changed from when I was intern. I had to ensure that my work was flawless because if I submitted the schedule to Nielsen and there was a mistake, it would cost $1,000 to fix it. I had to be constantly communicating with the scheduling team to be on top of any changes that were made and adjust them before the final schedule was sent out.
When you are an intern, it is a learning experience and (more or less) you can try and fail without dire consequences, because you are navigating the position as a student. However, when you are a full-time employee, there are greater responsibilities and expectations, and you have less room to make mistakes. You are hired to do a job and do it well. This was ingrained in me during my first few weeks on the job. I had to take the myEVNTS responsibilities seriously, because careless mistakes could cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.
All of this felt overwhelming, and to be honest, I didn’t think I couldn’t handle it, and I questioned my qualifications. But, after doing a lot of self-reflecting and meditation, I came to the realization that I was hired for a reason and my background and experience spoke for itself. What I believe was fueling my doubt was my transition from being a student to a full-time employee whose decisions carried a lot more weight than those of a college intern.
If you take one thing away from this article, I want it to be the advice I gave myself during this transition: always bet on yourself. There might be situations in your life that cause you to second guess your abilities and confidence, but don’t let them rattle you; take a step back and ground yourself by reassuring yourself that you didn’t come this far to only come this far, keep pushing and trust your instinct, it’ll payoff—I promise.
Sadly, my job was eliminated due to a company-wide reorganization but working at AMC was a great learning experience. I met wonderful people whom I stay connected with today. They made me feel welcome, important, and helped me develop a deeper knowledge and love for the media industry. They are even helping me with my current job search, providing feedback on my resume and introducing me to other people. I am grateful.
Hunting for a job is challenging in and of itself, but navigating the job market during a pandemic is a whole different beast. I even thought about transitioning out of the media industry and becoming a high school teacher. But, I decided to stick with my passion.
To prepare for my next opportunity, I decided to enroll in NYU’s Film and TV Industry Essentials course. From film history, the production process, and marketing and distribution, the online course encapsulates all of the different routes one might want to explore, so I highly recommend taking it if you have a passion for the industry but are unsure of which road to take.
Being laid-off was a blessing in disguise because it afforded me the opportunity to take a step back and evaluate what I really wanted to do in addition to investing in myself by taking an online course and communicating with my professional network. To date, this method has worked for me and has led to several interviews. So, keep going and always bet on yourself because consistency trumps all.
Speaking of interviews, I had six over the span of two weeks. The number of times I had to wear the top half of my suit (yes, I wore sweatpants during my Zoom interviews) while sitting at my desk in my room was starting to become tedious. But, I knew the effort to put on a wrinkle-free suit (thanks mom!) and gel my hair was going to be well worth it in the end—and it was. After several rounds of interviewing, I received a phone call on the morning of Tuesday, April 27th from a recruiter from Discovery Inc.—it was a job offer for a Sales Assistant position in their New York office working on the Food Network bundle. Yes!
It took me about a year, yes, a year, to navigate the job market to finally land this position back in the media industry. I had filled out hundreds of job applications and sent countless emails to individuals throughout my network.
Being out of a job for over a year was a wake up call and put into perspective the immense value—both intrinsic and extrinsic—of what a job means to me. And let me tell you, this new opportunity is one that I won’t take for granted—and that’s something you can count on.