Getting to know alumni from your department isn’t the easiest thing to do. For a film or graphic communications student, however, alumni can be a great resource for information and a contact for possible work in the industry.
On Saturday, the cinema arts and digital technologies department held an alumni workshop, bringing in both film and GCOM alumni to speak to current students about their post-undergraduate careers.
“I’d been thinking for a while that we need to hook up our current students with our alumni,” film professor Tom Brandau said.
He brought this idea to the cinema arts and digital technologies department, and it quickly gained support. Brandau set up a subcommittee with professors Millie Hanson and Raymond Rea, who began contacting and scheduling alumni to attend. The resulting panel included nine alumni: three from the Fargo-Moorhead area, three from the Twin Cities and three from Los Angeles, who used video conferencing technology.
“The alumni were behind it 100 percent,” Brandau said. “They really immediately jumped on the idea.” Some even mentioned they wish an event like this had been available when they were students.
Amber Johnson moved to the Twin Cities after graduating from MSUM in 2009. Johnson, along with several friends from the MSUM film program, started the Film Collective, a non-profit film and video company that continues to grow every year. Johnson said she was happy to come back to MSUM for this alumni event.
“I feel that a lot of time in school, you’re focusing too much on school,” Johnson said. “Any way we can help save students from what we had to go through.”
Johnson strongly recommends making and keeping connections, and getting any experience possible, through internships or production assistant work – say ‘yes’ to everything.
The panel advised students to be flexible and try different aspects of film, whether it’s directing, editing or shooting. They also warned students that most jobs will be freelance, but that freelance isn’t necessarily bad.
“I’ve found that I love freelancing. I just need to get myself out there,” Johnson said.
Sophomore Caleb Stumpfl was one of many students at the event, eager to hear advice and tips on what to do during college and post-college to achieve a career.
“I wanted to hear about alumni and hear about tips for life after college, especially in the field,” Stumpfl said. “It’s also cool to hear stories about how they got into the jobs they have today.”
BY CONOR HOLT