I’m new here, but not new to this biz. It’s fitting that my first blog entry coincides with MTV’s 30th Anniversary. 30 years later MTV is still going strong, a few less videos, but just as relevant. I got my start at MTV Networks and just like theirs, my journey continues. I’m going to date myself periodically, don’t hold it against me:) I graduated from college with a degree in TV and Film in hand, proudly marched back home and unpacked my stuff in the very same room I’d grown up in. Whitney Houston posters on the wall and stuff animals in the corner, just like I’d left it. Yes, I made the dreaded, I’ve had my independence for 4 years and now I’m moving back home move. As you probably know, when it comes to a career in the entertainment business a degree means nothing without knowing someone, re-evaluating your route and/or taking a few steps back from time to time.
I promptly set up shop and began canvasing the classified section in the my local newspaper. Yes, I said newspaper. This was well before the internet became what it is today. I think I even “mailed” my resume out. I got a call from someone at MTV Networks, The Network Operation Center (NOC) to be specific a few months later. The funny thing is, living in NY and knowing that MTV Networks was based in NY, it had never occurred to me to send them my resume. I chalk that up to being young and silly. Ever so perplexed by the woman on the phone asking me to come in for an interview at a place I’d never sent my resume to, I later realized that I had responded to a BLIND ad posted by the NOC. (No mention of the company name + a very vague job description = a blind ad) From what I remember it mentioned something about TV and back then, that’s all I needed to see to warrant sending over my resume.
When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to work in TV and Film, but I had no idea in which capacity. What I did know is that with my degree in hand, I thought I’d sail past the entry-level positions and get right to the good stuff. I interviewed with the NOC for a videotape operator position (dating myself again). This position required someone to man the control room aka the room with lot’s of buttons that each of the networks that MTV/Viacom owned and operated. At that time they included all of the MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, and Showtime channels that fell under each of these networks and then some!
12 hour shifts, day or night crew with a schedule that made sure you were only off every other Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Okay, I thought…I can sacrifice some of my social life for a foot in the door. How bad could it be? That foot in the door looked a lot less worth it when they mentioned the starting salary would be $6.00 per hour, a three-month probation period only after which you would become permanent and get health insurance. Not how I envisioned the start of my career. At all.
I left that interview knowing that they would call with a job offer and knowing that I would have to take it. Call it a feeling. I was going to have to put my pride aside and it wouldn’t be the last time. I hadn’t worked for six dollars and hour since senior year in high school. My plan was, I would waitress to supplement the whopping $6.00 per hour I would receive and I would put my social life on hold indefinitely, preparing to work around the clock. This job pushing buttons and taking networks to black wasn’t in my plan, but once I opened my eyes wide enough, I could see that it was my only way in. My mission was simple, I would get in and navigate my way through MTV Networks and all that they had to offer.
Needless to say the hours were awful as was the commute and I slept whenever I wasn’t working, but I took advantage of EVERY opportunity once I step foot inside those doors, this would be the first of many detours I would take.