Getting your foot in the door and climbing the ladder in media can be a challenge: The industry is always changing, career paths can be ambiguous and social media never sleeps.
To help you find your way, we’re talking to media pros with a few years under their belts. Our Advice From the Pros series gives you real-world insights and advice you can apply to your job search, job interview, and—when you land that next gig—your new job, too.
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Then when you’re ready, check out our job board.
As Adweek’s video producer, John Tejada keeps busy by creating and producing video content on Adweek.com. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting from Montclair State University near his hometown of Clifton, New Jersey, and has now logged five years at Adweek, based in New York City.
What was your first job? And your first job in your chosen career?
The first job I can remember was stock boy at a small clothing store in Passaic, New Jersey. I was maybe 15 years old and made $20 for one day’s work.
My first post-college job was as the executive assistant to Michael Wolff, the former editorial director of Adweek.
How did you land that job at Adweek?
I was an intern at “Inside Edition” my final semester at MSU. I began working closely with the staff there, asking everyone if they needed a hand with anything and everything.
Pretty soon I was assisting a producer regularly. Over the course of my time there I became her go-to intern. Toward the end of my internship, she said she’d keep an eye out for any entry-level jobs.
Roughly a month later she called me with a tip on the executive assistant position at Adweek—she’s the daughter of Michael Wolff.
The interview process was actually quite simple. Initially I thought the interview went great. Then I didn’t hear back for a couple of weeks, so I thought I bombed it. But eventually I got the offer.
Is this where you always thought you’d end up?
My dream job back in high school was to be a music video producer or director because I was always interested in making videos. In 10th grade at Clifton High School, I joined CAST, a TV production program that let us explore video concepts and create videos.
What about your job gets you excited to jump out of bed every morning? What makes you want to hide under the sheets?
Just knowing I’m going to be meeting different people every day is exciting. And I love that no two stories are ever the same. You can make your viewers feel a certain way just by the way you shoot a story.
What keeps me in bed: knowing I’ll spend 10 hours editing a two-minute video.
What’s your favorite thing about working at your company?
Again, I think meeting new people is awesome. I mean, I got to meet LeVar Burton, Oscar De La Hoya and Gigi Hadid!
How do you stay on top of trends in your field?
By checking all my social media feeds and joining an invite-only video group on Facebook. I like Instagram a lot right now. It shows you how creative people can get with just a cell phone; @canonusa, @thedogist, @vacationwolf, @jeffstaple, @kat_in_nyc and the @Phillies are all great accounts on IG.
Who in your field do you follow on social media?
What are you reading and watching right now?
I’m reading a lot of Charles Bukowski these days. He’s brilliant. Also, Fight Club. It’s such an iconic movie, I just had to read the book. As for what I watch, Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” is amazing.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your role?
It’s not all fun and games. A lot of times you spend six hours shooting, and five to eight hours editing to get to a two-minute Web video.
What skills should you have when applying for a video producer job?
You need to be able to go with the flow and not freak out when things don’t go your way. Things happen. People show up late. Thirty-minute interviews get cut to 10 minutes. So you have to be able to adapt, troubleshoot and be on you toes at all times.
What advice would you give someone looking to break into this field?
Say “yes” to opportunities—even if you’re not 100 percent sure about them. Figure things out on your own. If you can’t, that’s fine. At least you tried first before you asked for help. People will respect that.
What tips do you have for those seeking mentorships?
Look at those people who are great at what they do, and who you idolize. Study and learn everything you can from them. Reach out to them. Once you have them as mentors, they will be fountains of knowledge you can tap when you need them. Just don’t get too annoying about it.