Overseers connect with students through panels and classes

by Laura King / Beacon Staff • October 29, 2015

The Board of Overseers hosted an event on Tuesday to provide professional mentorship for students and allow board members to gain a better understanding of the college.

The Industry Insiders Conference is a series of industry-specific panels, networking roundtables, and class visits hosted by the overseers.

Each of the seven panel events allowed 10-15 students at a time. There weren’t any major keynote speeches, based on feedback from last year’s conference.

Andrew Tiedemann, vice president for communications and marketing and an organizer of the conference, said he engaged the School of Communication, the School of the Arts, and students in the planning process so they could create events that would garner the most interest.

Joann DiBuono, a junior visual and media arts major, was part of the planning group. She said she and the other students suggested panels that included screenwriting and advertising.

“Each room that people could go to had something to do with a different industry,” DiBuono said of the conference setup.

One of the panels was called “Interviewing: A View From The Hiring Manager.” John Ford, principal of his consulting firm John C. Ford Associates, spoke at the event about how to act when being interviewed for a position.

The event also featured a mock interview with student volunteer Jade Zaroff, a junior performing arts major.

Zaroff said she learned that every aspect of an interview is taken into consideration. She said the mock interview was challenging, but worth it.

"It’s always intimidating to be put on the spot, especially in front of your peers,” Zaroff said. “Even if you do mess up or something goes wrong, it’s always a learning experience."

Ford said in an interview with the Beacon after the event that his main advice for students is to keep practicing, either in a mock setting at the Office of Career Services or with peers. He said he encourages students to be their smartest selves in the job application process.

“You have to know your story and own it,” Ford said. “Make sure you’re honest and reflective about what you don’t do well. What they’re looking for is resilience.”

Founding director of Emerson Los Angeles Kevin Bright hosted “ELA Bound: Insight Into the Entertainment Business.” The event was attended by 15 students, most of whom had been accepted to ELA for the Spring 2016 semester.

Bright talked about expanding services at the LA campus, including creating more opportunities for non-visual and media arts majors, partnerships with local comedy troupes like the Upright Citizens Brigade and Funny or Die to create credited classes, the creation of a Career Services position, and expanding campus dining options.

Bright said his main advice is to focus on internships during the semester, rather than worrying about postgraduate careers.

“Best case scenario, your internship is your transition into real work,” Bright said.

Instead of speaking in classes related to their fields, overseers this year attended classes outside of their professions. Tiedemann said this gave the board members a chance to see areas of the college they may not interact with otherwise.

Michael Rogers, an overseer and co-founder of financial marketing service Mad and Wall, attended a beginner’s acting class on Tuesday.

Rogers’ background lies in advertising, with over 30 years in the field. He said while he has always had an appreciation for theatre, the idea of participating in a performing arts class was daunting to him.

“I found the class and the teacher were so welcoming and so generous with their hospitality,” Rogers said. “They really put me at ease.”

Rogers said the experience taught him that just observing classes is no way to understand what’s happening inside Emerson academic buildings.

“By participating, you really get a keen understanding of just how challenging the curriculum is, and of what’s being taught,” Rogers said.

Tiedemann said that the college plans to host this event again next year.

“It gives overseers the opportunity to hear from students, interact with students, and understand what Emerson students are passionate about,” Tiedemann said.

Beacon Correspondent Allison Hagan contributed to this report.