You likely hear people talking about it all the time. That taking career risks is a good thing and that it can lead to some amazing experiences. But if we’re all really honest, how many of us would actually put ourselves in that situation to achieve our wildest dreams? We sat down with Jordan, a CSU alumnus and asked him about his experience doing just that. Now he’s spending his days in a well known organization called 20th Century Fox, doing what he loves. It took hitting the bottom and taking a chance, but he wouldn’t trade any of it because of where he is now.
With that said, enjoy the read!
Jordan, tell us what you are up to today?
After a series of ups and downs and a blind move to Los Angeles, I found my job in the entertainment industry at 20th Century Fox. My work is in Hollywood, which is the perfect place to be in for someone interested in media.
Tell us how you got to Hollywood and how you got this opportunity to be a product manager for 20th Century Fox?
I started with my interest in football, a driving factor of what got me my first camera job with the Colorado State Football team. I loved making highlight videos and it occurred to me that eventually this was a job I could get paid for. With that, I made the choice to be all-in on learning how to make video, specifically how to communicate through this medium with people.
Through my work with CSU, I was able to make a contact that worked at EA Sports. After a few conversations and a look over my application materials, I moved to Florida, where I was responsible for reviewing all the animation videos and content for their new NCAA and Madden games. While it was an amazing opportunity, I later moved back to Colorado for personal reasons.
From there, I bounced around to a number of filler jobs, trying to make ends meet where I could. I rented apartments for less than reliable landlords, got fired from a start-up, worked guest services for a hotel, and worked as a bouncer, all while trying to build a small video business on the side with whatever time I had left over. The business was started from my underlying passion for video and football, which looked like a video business for athletes who wanted to get recruited. I got some clients early on, but because of a number of reasons, the business fizzled out.
After that, I was offered a job with NBC, lasting less than a year. It was a large step up from where I was before, but I was hungry to know more and do more. So I offered to take more on and also asked for a raise to do it. Turn out, it was an incorrect move, because I was let go shortly after.
One thing I gained the most during my time at NBC was contacts with people in my industry. It didn’t take long after my dismissal from NBC that a former coworker called to me to say: “Hey Jordan, my roommate bailed on our LA plans, so if you’re interested I’m headed out in May.”
Could the door be any more open?
It’s the media capital of the entire world. I didn’t even flinch. “I’m game.”
So I moved, sight unseen with no job lined up, and in three days and lucked out with another friend at NBC whose family had some “extra space.” I networked until I couldn’t anymore, meeting random people in coffee shops, applying on LinkedIn, networking through LinkedIn, submitting more applications in a week that I want to ever again. And just as the oil well is drying up and I’m about to go “High School Job round 2”, Fox calls and the interview goes amazing. I’m now on the lot coordinating DVD, Blu-Ray and UHD content for a top studio in Los Angeles.
Wow, that sounds like quite a wild ride you’ve had there. Lots of risks taken and hard work put in on your end. So tell us, throughout all of your roles, what are some things people wanting to go into this industry need to know?
Netflix, Amazon, and anything digital. More and more time is being spent online and on the phone and less in theatres and conventional living rooms. We’ve taken entertainment out in the world so we must learn how to adapt. The studios are interested in capitalizing on what Netflix has already achieved but the direct cable package doesn’t exactly translate online. Rights to movies, content, is often leased. YouTube is another major competitor.
That makes a lot of sense. It sounds like innovation is really important in this industry, always looking to tweak and improve and think differently. You gave us some great trends to think about. So now what are some skills that we would need to have?
You have to be able to use a computer, understand how media is produced from start to finish. What does a camera do? How does that file work in a MAC vs. PC? And you must be a team player. There will be tough weeks and months and you’re going to have to push past being uncomfortable and be willing to fail. Get fired, sleep on the floor, let your bank account hit zero, because it brings a better understanding to the privilege we have to work, earn and be apart of a team. If anything, not getting what I wanted early, has propelled me in getting more than I ever thought I wanted now.
Sounds like you have certainly learned a lot from failure and risk taking. What are some words of encouragement you can offer us from what you’ve learned in your career so far?
Remember, chapters have twists, turns and without them it makes for a boring read. I think that’s very true about my story and where I’ve been. There are ups and downs, but they all point towards wherever you’re heading. A lot can be learned in a simple role like working in guest services, so use those to your advantage.
Other than that, email people, be friendly and be willing to do whatever so you can meet the people you need to meet. Call, be pleasant to be around, ask questions that actually interest you. I hired a lot of my friends because I knew they had skills, so gain a skill-set that is technology based. It is the future. Writing is a skill still very high in demand, start working on a great reputation and remember you are a really valuable resource. The work you do in a company, as a temp, as a volunteer, can be as important or unimportant as you see it.
Wonderful. Thanks for your time and insight Jordan!
Continue the conversation on the CSU Career Center’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.