During on-campus recruiting every year, hundreds of Penn students flock to various information sessions and coffee chats to network with representatives of some of the largest companies across the country. However, students interested in industries like media and entertainment frequently find professional opportunities elsewhere.
Instead of participating in OCR, many students interested in entertainment find jobs and internships through more informal routes such as networking with Penn alumni who may have participated in relevant student groups.
“I think that a lot of people take very, very different paths in this industry” said College senior Caroline Ohlson, who is interested in pursuing a career in music or film, noting that “there just isn’t the same clear path for this industry in general.”
College senior Sara Sachs, a member of the Arts House Dance Company interested in film and television, said that while she has not found Handshake or OCR helpful, she has learned how to use the search service in QuakerNet, Penn’s alumni database, to connect to alumni working in media and entertainment.
Priscilla Felten, a Wharton sophomore serving as the publicity director for Penn Sirens who is interested in pursuing a career in publicity, also emphasized the importance of more informal networking.
“We kind of have to seek out those opportunities ourselves, which can be difficult," she said. "We have a lot of great Penn alumni in the industry who are certainly very willing to help. You just have to know where to find them and how to make those connections.”
Student groups like the Penn Undergraduate Media and Entertainment Club, which Sachs, Ohlson and Felten are all involved in, want to provide a more formal platform for students to explore the media industry.
Every year, UME co-organizes Media & Entertainment Week with the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi. The program invites Penn alumni and other representatives from top talent agencies and media corporations to campus for networking and panel events.
This year's events, which span from Oct. 23 to Nov. 8, include a panel for marketing featuring 1986 College graduate Steve Siskind, the president of worldwide marketing at Paramount Home Media Distribution, and a panel of Penn alumni currently working at companies like Condé Nast and Showtime.
Ohlson, the UME outreach and member relations chair, said the week has grown a tremendous amount since its inception in 2011.
“There are a lot of people who are very curious to learn how to break [into the industry] and how to start making connections and finding paths,” she said. “I think the nature of the event really helps provide insight into that.”
According to Sachs, the most important advice for students who are just starting to think about pursuing an entertainment career is to be social.
“Going out and building friendships and relationships at school with like-minded people is going to get you to that next place."
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