The entertainment industry is made up of film, television, music, recording, and video games.
Film & Television
There are two sides to the film and television industry:, the creative side and the business side. Film is by far the biggest segment of the entertainment industry, and television can be argued as the most powerful medium in the industry. The film industry is organized into production and distribution companies, film exhibition companies, and post-production companies. The television industry is structured somewhat differently than the film industry. One major difference is that television has many sales and marketing roles since most networks make money off of advertising. Streaming services have also changed the way television is consumed.
Recording / Music
The recording industry is a creative and technical field that centers on producing a quality product—recorded music. However, the industry also encompasses many other related recorded projects such as recorded voices for commercials and other types of TV and radio production. New career opportunities exist for recording industry professionals in the creation of music for websites and other multimedia. Podcasts are also newer to the industry and unlike conventional radio, podcasting does not fall under the rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission.
Video games are a complex business that requires the collaboration of many developers with diverse expertise. With the advancement of the technology that fuels the video game industry, video games have become increasingly complex over the years. Video game career paths fall into four main categories: game design, production, programming, and art. The roles of these professionals vary according to the size of the studio for which they work.
Skills to develop for success in this field
- Attention to detail
- Computer and technical skills (in various forms of electronic media)
- Creativity and storytelling
- Emotional intelligence (the ability to connect with people of different backgrounds)
- Go-getter, ambitious, self-starter
- Humility (often leads to promotion)
- Interpersonal skills
- Office / administrative skills (e.g. phone skills, Microsoft Office)
- Perseverance and commitment
- Time management
- Verbal and written communicator
Online resources specific to the industry
- Firsthand* is a comprehensive resource for information on what it is like to work within an industry, company or profession. *Note: Registration using Northwestern email address is required for access.
Job posting and other career informational sites relevant to the field:
- Entertainment Careers: Internship and fulltime job postings in all areas of the entertainment industry. Up to date and screened postings.
- Game Jobs : Fulltime jobs in the video game and computer game industry.
- Hollylist: Internship and fulltime job postings in all areas of entertainment.
- Production Hub: Jobs in film and video production, as well as a searchable database of companies based on interest and location.
- ScreenSkills: TV/Film: Provides career information and insight into roles in the film and TV industry.
- ScreenSkills: Video Games: Provides career information and insight into roles in the gaming industry.
- ScreenSkills: Animation: Provides career information and insight into roles in animation.
- Showbiz Jobs (https://www.showbizjobs.com/). Internship and fulltime job postings in all areas of entertainment.
Key information or knowledge for this field
Entertainment is an industry where networking will be essential for job success. Reach out to alumni and people working at companies and areas you’re interested in and ask if you can talk with them to learn more about their work, their career path and their insights about the industry. Research their background and role ahead of time and be prepared to also talk about your own career goals and your work/experience. In entertainment specifically it will be beneficial to you to be able to articulate your career goals. Alumni encourage students to be direct in what they need help with, and many are eager to help since it is such a networking heavy industry.
- Join the Northwestern Alumni Association
- Use LinkedIn to search for alumni and join relevant groups
- Join the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program
- Attend entertainment related campus-based events and speakers
Navigating the internship & job search process:
There are many internship opportunities in entertainment. Keep in mind that even if you have a specific area you’d like to work in one day, any exposure to the industry is great experience. Production companies, including the smaller ones, are a great place to look for internships. . The business side will have more defined opportunities with specific experience needed, whereas people take many different paths to break into the creative side, and it often takes more time. You also must be comfortable starting in an entry level position and gaining valuable experience before moving upward within the organization. If you’re interested in film or television, it is common to move to LA right away without a job, in order to network and find opportunities. Many entry level/assistant jobs never get posted and rely on referrals, which is why networking is so important.
Stay up to date about what’s happening in the industry. Read Variety and/or Deadline. This will help you to stay relevant when networking and interviewing. Research companies that you are interested in to be able to reference projects/specific things about them that excite you in the recruitment process.
Relevant student groups and professional organizations
Northwestern Student Groups:
- A&O Productions
- Multicultural Filmmakers Collective
- Niteskool Productions
- Northwestern Sketch Television
- Pioneers of Interactive Entertainment (PIE)
- Studio 22 Productions
- The Blackout
- WNUR Student Radio
External Professional Organizations:
- Academy of Television, Arts & Sciences
- American Federation of Music
- Directors Guild of America (DAG)
Special considerations for graduate students
Many positions in this field value experience over credentials, so focus on identifying transferable skills and getting involved. The best way for PhDs to demonstrate their ability to be successful in the communication and media fields is to have a portfolio of work. This work need not be paid—for example, consider volunteering to manage the social media for a student group, or write blog posts for an office on campus.
Networking is a very important part of the hiring process in the communication and media industries. Start by talking with alumni working in these fields. Find them via our.northestern.edu and through the Northwestern University Alumni group on LinkedIn.