Cover Letters: Media, Communication, Arts & Entertainment

By: Michael Elias, Media, Communication, Arts & Entertainment Career Community Advisor

The idea of customizing a cover letter to each individual position you apply to can feel like a daunting task, particularly if you want to cast a wide net and apply to multiple roles.

For students with an interest in Media, Communication, Arts & Entertainment, cover letter writing can feel especially tedious when, more often than not, a portfolio or demo reel is also required. Your resume highlights your career history, the portfolio/reel provides concrete evidence of your work, and the cover letter can be a space to fill in any relevant gaps that those materials don’t convey.

Advertising, Public Relations, and Digital Marketing

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Professionals in these industries are going to expect some level of creativity in applicant cover letters, even if you’re not applying for copywriting roles. One of the best ways to do this is by grabbing their attention in your opening paragraph, ideally by telling a story. This story might express your enthusiasm for the specific company, highlight relevant skills, and/or emphasize your passion for a relevant cause.

If you’re stuck, review some of the campaigns that firm or agency has developed. Do any of them inspire you? Does your individual writing style match theirs? Are there specific values evident in these campaigns that align with what you want to convey in your work? Any of these can be a strong starting point to tell a relevant story and make a direct connection to the company.

Arts and Arts Administration

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For students seeking opportunities in graphic, photography, and/or studio arts, your creative portfolio will do much of the heavy lifting. Your cover letter, then, can be used to make a case for how your aesthetic sensibility aligns with the studio you’re applying to, and/or what inspires you about the work being done by that particular artist. Behavioral attributes, such as the ability to provide and receive constructive criticism, are worth mentioning as well, particularly if you can provide an example of how you’ve demonstrated these in the past.

If you’re looking to break into arts administration, your task is two-fold.

  1. Make sure you are speaking to relevant attributes outlined in the job description, which may range from advocacy for the arts to building relationships with patrons to event planning to writing funding proposals.
  2. Genuinely and enthusiastically express your passion for the organization you’re applying to. If it’s a children’s museum, talk about your interest in kid-friendly content; if it’s a gallery that specializes in, say, sculpting, describe your passion for the art form. Additional tips and skills for arts cover letters can be found in this post from BalanceCareers.com.

Entertainment and Production

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The entertainment industry can be broadly defined as anything from film/television to music to sports to digital programming. Whether your interests lie in working with a film festival or a music label, you’ll want to spend some time talking about your passion for the projects being produced by these organizations. If there’s an opening with the Chicago Underground Film Festival, express your passion for experimental cinema. If a music label specializes in punk rock, don’t waste time discussing your interest in other genres like country or opera; be sure you’re relating to their unique specialization.

For production roles, the good news is that you can generally keep these short and sweet. Unless you’re applying for a full-time position, many production jobs are going to be temporary or contract-based, and the people who hire for them generally need talent ASAP. After (briefly) summarizing your skills and expertise, use the cover letter to explicitly outline your dates of availability and other practical requirements, such as access to a car, relevant film equipment, etc. These are competitive positions, but a strong demo reel won’t compensate for your inability to arrive on set at the drop of a hat.

Journalism and Publishing

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For many journalism students, strong writing and the ability to tell a story will come naturally and serve them well in cover letter writing. What you don’t want to do is get too long-winded, which can be a challenge when you’ve been trained to write in a particular way. While hiring managers will definitely want to assess your written communication skills, let your writing samples do the heavy lifting here; keep the cover letter short and to the point. For broadcast students, it’s important to demonstrate that you are a visual storyteller and the various platforms you have experience with. Your reels will communicate many of the skills employers are looking for here, but if your samples only emphasize one broadcast medium (e.g. podcasts), use the cover letter to talk about other relevant production skills (e.g. videos, blogs) and other relevant media you may have experience with.

If your interest is in the publishing industry, you’ll find that many of the same tips for arts administration professionals apply here. Specifically, roles in the publishing field may include editing and writing, but also span everything from sales to marketing to legal to accounting. Make sure that you’re highlighting experiences that are directly related to that individual position. If you have a particular passion for the output of the company (be it a publishing house, literary journal, trade publication, etc.), be sure to talk about this, as well.

Conclusion

The above strategies provide insight into industry-specific cover letter tips, but it’s important to be aware of the appropriate structure and format needed for these documents. If you’re writing your first cover letter (or just need a refresher), this online guide provides a great template. Afterward, stop by the Career Center to take advantage of our drop-in resume and cover letter advising service; we’ll help you to become more prepared and confident to take the next step in the application process.

Get Real With: Factor Model Management

By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

Gettin’ real with Runway Division Director Bridget Halanski of Factor Model Management. In this employer spotlight post, get an inside look at what it would be like to intern with a talent agency.


If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in the entertainment industry and a “business of people,” an internship with Factor Model Management may be a good fit for you.

Bridget Halanski, director of Runway Division at Factor, said, “analytical brains need to think creatively since there is no science to what we do; It’s subjective.” Bridget also said that their interns must really “be able to multi-task and jump into a variety of projects.”

At Factor, Bridget emphasizes that interns get a close-up look at the daily life of a talent agent. Since Factor is a boutique agency, the interns have a hands-on experience. Day-to-day tasks include helping with the reception desk (Bridget believes this is one of the most difficult jobs an intern will encounter, due to organization and directing important calls to their specific destinations at three different offices in Chicago, Atlanta and NYC), dressing models backstage at shows, assisting with model searches/scouting events, social media management, and all around organization at the agency. Interns normally work 2-3 days a week, so he or she must stay in contact when out of the office.

Interns get a close-up look at the daily life of a talent agent.

An internship at Factor is much more than college credit and experience in the fashion industry, it’s creating a network of close friends and contacts for the future. Bridget said that one of the most rewarding aspects of a Factor internship is the relationships that the intern builds with clients and fellow staff members. She went on to mention, “We keep in touch with former interns and always pass on job opportunities if we hear of a company hiring. A few former interns are now my clients working for PR firms; it’s great when they are able to call me to book talent for a project!”

The fashion industry in particular is not always as glamorous as television and films portray, but there are a lot of rewarding moments that you get from working so closely with people. Bridget stated that they’re not always out to lunch with models or attending big events; “We really are at our computers most of the time catering to our clients,” she said.

Now, if this all seems interesting, there are a few tips that Bridget shared when looking for an internship or job in the entertainment industry:

  1. The most important thing that she noted was that interns must be themselves and think on their feet!
  2. Bridget also mentioned that doing some research on the company beforehand is always helpful. Interviewers everywhere want to see that you know something about the company that you’re applying for. Do your research! For instance, Factor Model Management is formally Elite Chicago, and the owner, Jane Stewart, discovered Supermodel Cindy Crawford!
  3. In regards to the fashion industry, Bridget mentioned that it’s always great to know a few of the current top models and brush up on entertainment news so that you are able to talk about current and upcoming events during your interview.

Inspired and interested in finding a job or internship in the fashion, entertainment industry? Check out Handshake for new career listings!

 

DePaul Diaries: Life as a TV Station Intern

By: Sean Nasi, DePaul University digital cinema major ’15

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.


After months of searching, Sofia Figueroa, DePaul digital cinema major, found herself an intern at, not one, but two different television stations, WAPA America and Corporación de Puerto Rico para la Difusión Publica. Sofia found both opportunities through the online market and was able to work near her home town in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. She has learned valuable time management skills while balancing the two positions, which have helped confirm the focus of her studies at DePaul.

“This experience has helped me reinforce my career choice in working in communications and television,” Sofia said. “As a digital cinema student, this is a perfect opportunity to polish my skills and, at the same time, learn new aspects about the industry.”

WAPA is an independent channel that focuses on entertainment, while the Corporación de Puerto Rico is a nonprofit PBS affiliate that focuses on education and culture.

“Corporación de Puerto Rico is a bit more serious, but there is definitely a sense of camaraderie to work for the greater good of the company and its audience,” Sofia said. “At WAPA they are constantly brainstorming ideas to reach a wider audience. There is always work to be done, but there are also always those moments that we just laugh and have fun.”

Sofia’s experience at Corporación de Puerto Rico and WAPA has taught her versatility by opening the way to new experiences. She has even gotten the chance to apply her classroom knowledge to real-world environments with tangible results.

“Not only am I getting hands-on experience, but also all of my work is necessary to the company. It is a gratifying feeling when you know that you are an essential part of the team and that your hard work is out there in the world,” Sofia said.

“It is never too early to get work experience and in the long run it will only do you good,” Sofia advised. She is a living example of how hard work and persistence can pay off in the end.

Sofia reiterated, “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there because everyone has to start somewhere. After you get work experience it will get easier.”


Want to learn about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.