May 1, 2009

Directing Traffic for a TV Network

New York City internship helped Kim Nieskens ’07 get her first job in the industry

Kim Nieskens ’07 knows how important networking can be in making crucial professional connections. A student internship at NBC Universal in New York City enabled her to land her first job at Women’s Entertainment Network (WE).”Having an internship at NBC Universal helped me make several connections in the business, and several of my colleagues [at WE] worked there,” she says. “An internship in the city opens up a ton of doors; it gives you an edge over the person from Indiana who worked at the college’s TV station.”

Benefitting from Lafayette’s proximity to New York, Nieskens interned in the promotions department of Universal Film. She sent out press packages to radio stations and colleges and organized events to promote new movies.

“Being able to have an internship in New York City was invaluable to me,” says Nieskens, who also served an externship with Robert Spagnoletti ’84 at the Office of the Corporation Counsel for D.C. “It’s the media headquarters of the East Coast. Having experience at a major broadcast network in New York City really helped me land my first job.”

At WE, Nieskens is a traffic coordinator, responsible for ensuring programs air on time and in their correct slots and placing all internal commercials. She also participates in meetings where staff decide which programs should be developed and which the network will acquire.

While visions of overbearing bosses may swirl in recent graduates’ heads, Nieskens notes it’s important to remember that everyone entering the field starts at the bottom. She says it’s part of the process and an opportunity in disguise.

“Don’t get frustrated if you start by getting coffee for people — everyone started there,” she says. “It’s great to think you have the skill set to start as vice president or executive producer, but don’t think you know it all. Put in your time, get the coffee, talk to everyone you can, and learn as much as you can. Once you build up your knowledge of the industry and pay your dues, people will listen to your ideas and you will be taken seriously.”

Networking is a theme Nieskens often returns to. Just as in college, it’s important to ask for help, she says.

“It’s all about who you know; things in the entertainment business are constantly changing, and building relationships with people in the industry is important,” she says. “It’s OK to ask for help, join networking communities, and find a mentor. Once you have your foot in the door, the people you meet along the way can help you find the best fit for you, whether it’s in programming, ad sales, or production. Meet with everyone — find out what they do and how they got where they are. Most people are willing to sit with you for a few minutes to tell you their story and offer advice. And then you have a new contact.”

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