Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Careers in Food Media & Communications Panel

by Crystal Tan, Bachelor's Degree in Business Management, from La Papillote

On Monday, January 11th, the Careers in Food Media and Communications panel was hosted here on campus. The participants were:
The alumni panel's goal was to provide information on the developing Food Media concentration within the Applied Food Studies major.

The participating group of alumni spanned many different areas in food media, and they were all eager to provide stories of their experiences in the field.

When it comes to tips for starting a career in food media, the collectively agreed upon responses were to gain experience, to work hard, and to market yourself. 

In the food media industry, kitchen experience is very important. Practical experience in the kitchen allows us to begin a food media career as richer people. Kitchen experience also provides a foundation and character building. Erin shared that, in her past, she averted kitchen experience, wanting only to focus on food media. Now, she has realized that she would not have such a career now without the past experience of working in restaurants. Working hard is also part of the deal; Kersti's advice is to say yes to everything. She said, "There is no status involved, chefs will catch onto your integrity," your work ethic will provide further opportunities. On the topic of self-marketing, the panelists advised on creating an identity by using social media. Social media is a powerful tool for public relations at our fingertips.

Our world now is a digital world, and what is happening to the traditional form of social media, the magazines? Food media is now regarded as a combination of print and social media, reducing career possibilities in magazines. Sarah Carey shared that magazines are now contracting with freelancers instead of hiring full-time staff. There are also more digital extras to magazine print contents. Andrew's advice to us was to be open-minded when looking for positions, and that there are even opportunities to create your own positions due to the growing importance of digital content. While the traditional magazine medium for food media offers less opportunities, food media as a whole has a broader range for content, creating new careers within the field.

The panelists also shared their experiences of freelancing. The panelists' consensus was that freelancing may be financially unstable, but is a great way to gain experience and become well rounded. Freelancing means managing yourself as a business; basic accounting and personal finance are great skills to have. Many of the panelists shared that they have never had just one job.
Sara Moulton shared her mother's advice, which was "go on every date, go on every job interview." 
Creating connections is important. Kersti recommending prioritizing work and experience over monetary rewards. Other advice included working hard at internships to eventually lead to jobs, and connecting with the Career Services Office for opportunities.

After the panel discussion, there was a chance to connect with the panelists. I took this time to ask for advice from several panelists. Sara Moulton advised CIA students to check out blogs, websites, and other digital content to find out what attracts us and why. Finding out which aspect we would like to pursue is a great first step. Jennifer's reply to my question of how to become more marketable at interviews was show how you can fit in with the team or company in the cover letter instead of simply listing your qualifications. For those interested in food styling, Erin recommended thinking about visual appeal of dishes in our classes and everyday lives. Todd believes that social media is very important and the next upcoming platform may be the popular Snapchat. On the topic of getting digital experience, Patrick emphasized the importance of understanding basic digital concepts such as Wordpress, and delivering ideas in visually compelling ways.

To those interested in a career in food media, this alumni presentation offered important insights in this industry. The sharing of their past experiences helped us set realistic goals and offered practical advice in pursuing such a career.

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