Networking: How A Cab Ride Got Him His Job

networkingWith aspirations of working in the television industry, 22-year-old Mike Finkelstein learned about the value of networking first-hand. As a video/television major with a minor in English, he actively worked toward polishing his production, writing, and acting skills.

Connections and Internships

Upon his graduation in May 2009, Finkelstein's goals of working in television came to fruition; but it was the contacts that he made early on that made all the difference. While in school, Finkelstein held four internships, including ones with NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He also interned with 95.5 WPLJ and Entertainment Tonight. As an intern, he hustled to build up contacts and networked with nearly everyone that he met.

"It's all about connections," Finkelstein said. "You have to always put yourself out there, and be friendly."

Finkelstein still keeps in contact with his former internship supervisors and fellow interns by sending monthly emails. Former interns with whom Finkelstein developed a kinship have informed him about job opportunities that they have learned about through their own contacts.

Talk to Everyone -- Including Cab Drivers

Perhaps there is no better proof of the significance of networking than the way that Finkelstein landed his current job as a freelance studio operator for MSNBC. He officially began the job in December 2009, but the wheels were in motion back in May of that year. During a cab ride home from a social event, Finkelstein engaged in a conversation with the driver about his career goals. What started out as a casual exchange soon turned into a golden professional opportunity. As it turned out, the cab driver's son also went to the same school he did and knew professionals in the business. The driver gave Finkelstein the contact information for the director of MSNBC's The Ed Show. After a few months of sending emails back and forth, Finkelstein got the job at MSNBC.

Get Your Foot In The Door -- and Stay Flexible

As a freelancer, Finkelstein has held a number of positions. Aside from his work with MSNBC, he currently works for Cablevision as a temporary master control operator. He also previously worked for the street team for CBS radio.

Finkelstein says the key to successfully working as a freelancer is to learn to allocate your time accordingly. "It's all a puzzle," Finkelstein said. Each job may require different days and shifts, and it is crucial to keep track. "I now realize I can't do everything. You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, but you don't want to overload yourself," he noted.

Budgeting your time may even mean declining a job opportunity because of time restraints. Finkelstein turned down a job with News 12 Traffic and Weather because the required shifts conflicted with his current jobs. However, he was sure to respectfully explain his dilemma so that those doors can remain open in the future, and that those contacts may prove useful later on.

Even with Finkelstein's innovative methods for networking and his unyielding ambition, he admits that the television business is a cutthroat one, which can lead to disappointment. Nonetheless, Finkelstein believes your passion should be the driving force through it all, despite any obstacles in your way. "If you keep pushing, you can't fail."

Next:Confessions of a TV Newsroom Intern >>

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