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It’s All About Making the List Smaller

“What should I do?”
“What will I do now?”
“What can I do?”

My students at the university  – you – ask these questions all the time. In my private work with clients, fully grown adults, some with even a decade of experience, still have no clue what they want to be when they grow up.

My answer is the same to the young, the older, and the oldest: it’s okay to not know, but we can work on one list now – the list of things we’re positive we don’t want to do.

It’s a process of narrowing down jobs and tasks that we’re sure we do not enjoy. That list is built fairly quickly. For students, I have them tell me about classes they struggled with, and why they didn’t enjoy it. We make a list of activities that they really liked (and did well at) and that enables us to start narrowing it down.

It’s satisfying to cross items off the list. Some students do an internship and don’t love it. Check. That’s one less thing to think about.

The reduction of decisions, I call it. It’s a way to focus, and get closer to the thing, the task, the job…we are good at and enjoy doing.

What can you cross off your list?

 

John ScottJohn Scott is the Career Services Manager for COM. He also teaches COM 611: The Evolution of Media.

 

Contact: @johnscottsf or jscott<at>academyart.edu

 

John Scott Reinvention

This Summer, I Think I’ll Invent Something

This was the text I sent to my partner yesterday afternoon to summarize our breakfast meeting:

We changed the trajectory of global macroeconomics this morning.

Yes we did.

We have come up with an idea that is so powerful it will affect how entire nations will oversee their economies. That’s a bit funny, since we’re actually starting a media production company!

How’d that happen?

Our fist meetings were about a completely different subject. we decided our original concept was a failure, so we kept meeting and we kept talking. Batting ideas back and forth, yesterday, over scrambled eggs and coffee, the big idea surfaced.

No one we know of has attempted to do what we want to do. I’m sorry, I’m not quite ready to announce what “it” is. I’ll do that when the time is right.

But our breakfast meeting was very much like your summer semester could be.
You may have one or two classes this semester. You’ll be creating media content. You’ll be asked to tell some stories. Why not begin by dreaming of something you’d like to do, or say, or sell, or make – and start brainstorming? That video you’ll be asked to make? Make it about your idea.

The first effort might be a failure. Good. That means you’re making progress.
Every time you have to write or research or shoot or edit, focus it on your idea. Imagine what it’s going to look like. Make changes mid-course.

At the end of seven weeks you just might have telegraphed your first, or next…career.

I’m going to invent something this summer. Maybe we should do it together.

 

John Scott photoJohn Scott is the Career Services Manager for your School of Multimedia Communications. He also is the instructor of COM 611: The Evolution of Media.

 

3-5 Years

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of “3-5 Years Experience Needed”

What’s a newly minted college graduate (or freshly reinvented older person) to do? If you were to scour the job boards today you’d discover that it apparently takes three to five years to be good at anything in this life; this realization would make you sad. Baloney. Companies say they want three to five years experience for several reasons:

  • They want to limit the amount of applicants
  • They don’t want to spend time training a newbie
  • They want someone who knows their stuff

Okay, fair reasons. But you can and should apply for these jobs, and you can do it ethically. Here’s why: 1) If you’re a student, you likely have experience. Your degree is not your education. Your education is the sum of all things you did at school (ahh- your experience)! 2) If you know how to crush this job, prove it. They’ll make you prove it in the interview. Do you have examples the back up your claim that you are an awesome video editor? Can you show evidence you have been a team leader? Yes, you do. Let’s imagine I meet you at a networking function. I tell you I’m developing a mobile app and I need a fabulous host for the video content. I have already posted an ad online that says I need an experienced pro to do this. You have little or no professional experience at hosting, but you have a lot of experience because you’ve done it in class. Your resume reel is breathtaking.  You tell me this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, and YOU WANT THIS. I’m impressed – by your confidence. You show me your reel on your mobile and it is indeed epic. I tell you I’d like to discuss this with your further. So much for the “3-5 years” rule. Sometimes companies really do need a seasoned expert to fill a job. If they use the words “mandatory” or “absolutely required” the ethical thing to do is not apply. But we don’t see those words very often. You are the solution to a problem or challenge a company has. Don’t be afraid of a job post. You can get that job – because you’re that good. John Scott photo John Scott teaches COM 611 (The Evolution of Media) and he’s your Career Services Manager in the School of Multimedia Communications.

Teacher pushing a student off the learning cliff

The Teacher Who Dared To Push – A Story

“You’re not going to graduate high school.”

Her voice had weight. The words fell like lead weights on The Kid’s head.

I have watched you waste a year of my time; I have watched you waste it all away, and now you are going to pay the price; you are not going to graduate.”

The Kid hung his head, a sheepish, morose look on his face. He knew that this time she wasn’t threatening him. She meant business. He looked out a window, ashamed to look at her.

“You test in the top 1% of all kids in the state. I know you’re not stupid – in fact, you are one of the smartest kids I have ever had in my classroom. That’s what makes this so infuriating to me. You are challenged by nothing except your own dumb-ass behavior. You have no excuses, no disabilities. You have every advantage, and you don’t care. You don’t care about anything!”

It took until this moment for The Kid to realized that he messed up, and it was real, and it was happening.

He had zero words. He met her cold stare, feeling the weight of her words, his expression changing from morose to maudlin.  What was he going to tell his parents? How could he face his friends? What would he do on that sunny, sticky summer day in May when all of the “normal” kids were conferred diplomas?

“You f__ up, kid. You failed the most basic achievement the world asks a child to do. You’re not going to college, you’re not going to be successful,  and you are probably going to smoke and drink your life away. You failed, and I have never been more disappointed in anyone as I am in you.”

The Kid hated that the teacher was right. He had nothing; nothing to react to, nothing and no one to deflect blame on. Because he wasn’t stupid, he finally understood how right she was.

She sat down, facing him now across a small table.

The teacher sat down for the longest, stillest, quietest five minutes. The Kid was paralyzed. It seemed like 12 hours. The venom in her voice had rendered him a pitiful lump, defenseless.

She got up, walked to her desk, and grabbed a piece of paper and two pencils.

The teacher wrote for a few minutes, and pushed the paper across the table, like a negotiator proffering a settlement offer to a lawyer. She pushed it in front of him.

There were ten questions on the paper.

“This is your final. Take it.”

The kid raised his head slowly, grabbed the pencil and started writing.

Three minutes later, he finished. Silent, he pushed the paper back across the table, like a car buyer revealing “the number” to the dealer in the finance department.

He got nine out of ten right.

The teacher checked the test, wrote an A- on the top of the page, and threw it back at him.

“You just graduated high school. I never want to see you again. Get out of here.”

<fast forward 25 years>

 The Kid called the high school and asked for the teacher. The receptionist transferred the call.

“Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me. I wonder if you remember…”

She howled in laughter.

“You little red-haired SOB! Is that you?”

He loved her tone, her take-no-prisoners vocabulary. She was well read and well-educated, but her words were populist. He always loved it, even back then.

They retraced decades in 5 minutes, catching up rapidly.

“I want to tell you a story-you probably don’t remember – my last day of school.”

“I don’t. Tell me.”

He recounted the last time he saw her, that final day, when she administered that test.

“There isn’t a day that goes by when I do not remember what you did for me. I heard you are retiring at the end of this school year, and I wanted you to know, before you go… how grateful I am to you. You literally saved my life. And now, I too am a teacher.

Thank you, Deb.”

Her voice was weightless now.  They were as light as a feather, her words as light as a whisper, lingering in the air, delicate and tender.

” Oh, I love that story. You’re going to make me cry. I am so proud of you, John Scott!”

“Thanks for the push, Teacher.”

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John Scott is a teacher. You see him in COM 611 (The Evolution of Media) and he’s your Career Services manager in the School of Multimedia Communications.

 

Enjoy your summer.

 

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We Know What You Did And We’re Telling Everyone

Teachers talk, you know.

We dish and whisper about you all the time. We know who the slackers are and we have a very clear idea of who is really killing it. But you should know that when we talk about you, we aren’t acting like mean kids in middle school. We talk about you because we care about you.

If you attend a class at Cal,  you might be in an auditorium with 200 other people and a grad student might be giving the lecture. No hating on Cal here;  I’m just saying that when you are in Peter Shaplen’s or Valeria Coleman Morris’s or Michelle Kennedy’s or Diane Fukami’s or Toan Lam’s (or my) classroom, you are in a space with as many as 18 other students. Many times there are even fewer in there.

We get to know you at this school. We remember your name, we know what kind of homework you’re doing, we can identify your strengths and skills.

You are not a number to us, your teachers  – you are one of “ours”.

And we are proud of you.

You made it through a semester, assuming you pass all of your finals. You are going to get out of here for a while, maybe forever.  We don’t mind if you stop thinking about us. You are going on break and you are probably going to do everything that has nothing to do with Final Cut or Tricasters or Dreamweaver or 2-column video scripts or the theory of social media sharing behavior.

You are going to relax, maybe travel a bit. You’re going to hang with friends and family. Some of you are getting ready for work, at a job!

We remember, however, and we have no intention of forgetting you. That’s why, even though most of us don’t say it, most of us promise to be your teachers for life. You can contact us for advice, ask us to look at something your created, perhaps even give you a reference – if you crushed it when you were here.

We remember. And we sure had a good time. Thanks.

JS teaching

John Scott teaches COM 611: The Evolution of Media, and is your Career Services Manager in COM.

 

 

Question Mark

If You’re Not Curious, You’re Missing A Lot

Guest Post: Peter Shaplen

It seems more and more I hear people tell me: “All you really need to know is a click away.”

Is that correct?
I think that’s a flawed statement.
They suggest: why worry about what you don’t know today?  If it is really important, you can always look it up on your phone or tablet. Whatever you need is a simple, search click away.
One Google or Yahoo or Bing click and…there it is.  It may be the right answer, or worse, the wrong one.  Does it matter?  Not really.  You got it in a single click and that’s good enough.  One click was enough to satisfy your need – and you can move on.
The danger is you don’t know who manipulated the single click’s result.  Was it paid content?  Was it unbiased?  Was it politically motivated or culturally prejudiced?  Was it factually scrubbed or ethically neutral?  Shifting to the present tense for the most important question: Would you stake your life or reputation on the result?  Do you dare?  If you’re really confused why don’t you make a second query?  Another click?  Oh well, that’s too much trouble…
And once you have an answer, do you know enough yet to put that into perspective?
The trouble with this approach is that if you never try to remember anything, or never have to recall most things, you are at risk of  wrecking your curiosity.
I started noticing this when news content shifted to online delivery.

Gone were the days when my eye might dance across the page only to discover a teensy bit of a story, a morsel of something I didn’t know or hadn’t heard about.  Perhaps too it was a picture which caught my interest prompting me to read beyond the caption and even in the body of the story.  This was called serendipity.  A funny word admittedly – even the way it is spelled.  Wonder about its derivation?  Well, that’s just one click away…right?  Online dictionaries call it a “lucky happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. It was first coined… in 1754!

That action – that moment of serendipity was something that led me to wonder, sometimes leaving me in awe.  Sometimes that nugget I didn’t expect became the subject of a “water-cooler” chat later on. My knowledge of that little factoid, that morsel of news was entertaining and valuable; it made me interesting.
All animals have an inquisitive sense about them.  Whether it is searching for food or shelter, using the eyes or olfactory senses, animals have the innate ability for search.  We search for the best restaurant, movie, job or bargain.  We search for date. We search for our soul mate.
But humans also have the gift of curiosity, when we choose to use it. I think the difference is simply that we have the added mental capacity to search for, to find, sift and assess information.  By gathering up lots of facts we can create a mosaic of that information to display a prospected, curated understanding of a subject.
What’s troublesome is if we don’t exercise that curiosity, will we lose the ability to call upon it when we need it?  Does it need to be exercised and practiced regularly?
 True curiosity requires persistence.
The great American baseball manager Casey Stengel often said, “You can look it up”.  More and more I find myself thinking how right he was.  But don’t stop there. Engage with that content and see where it leads, what it builds, how it improves your understanding.  Often I am mesmerized by that journey to achieve marvelous discoveries and a deep sense of satisfaction.
Be curious.  It never gets old.
Peter Shaplen
Peter Shaplen is a COM professor and a freelance journalist for US TV networks. He is also a media crisis manager. Peter has completed the editing of the book “Love, Again” by Eve Pell –  published by Ballantine Books in January 2015.

Use These Ten Great Tips And Your Resume+Reel Will Sizzle

My colleague Richard Hart spends a lot of time researching trends – in tech, content creation and also in finding jobs. He’s really good at it.

You are building skills and curating your library of classroom and real world content.  What do you do next?

You get noticed.

This is where most students stumble. You’ve made all of this good stuff; now we need to get you noticed.

Richard has updated his top ten rules for resumes and reels. Read it, do it, and watch what happens.

Download the PDF here.

John Scott photoJohn Scott is the Career Services Manager for COM. He also teaches COM 611: The Evolution of Media.

The voice of the COM department.

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