Updated: May 23
I have always heard about the importance of networking in my pursuit of a career in media. Even for those with the gift of gab, it can be a daunting task— what if the other party doesn't want to engage? And, how do I actually do it? It’s one thing to attempt but successful execution can be difficult.
I have discovered that attending conferences is one of the best ways to network and connect with people who share similar interests and passions. The most impactful conference that I have attended thus far is the FUTURE NOW Media & Entertainment Conference back in May 2019. While it wasn’t my first conference ever, it would be the last I’d attend as an undergrad student and the most important and meaningful one as an aspiring media professional.
My initial interest came from seeing the conference announced in a media-oriented newsletter highlighting recent media events and opportunities for students. As a junior rapidly approaching graduation, it was imperative for me to put myself in the right environment to cultivate a career in media and figuring out where I could fit in. The FUTURE NOW Media & Entertainment Conference wasn’t just a day session, it was a three-day immersive experience. And, it was made for me.
Founded by Margaret “Peggy” Kim, a media powerhouse in her own right, the conference is an exciting annual multi-day event, linking students and recent graduates passionate about pursuing careers in media to influential professionals and leaders in the industry.
I applied for and got a scholarship from FUTURE NOW to cover the registration fee and was able to attend right in my hometown of New York City. The application experience also helped me hone my skills in telling my own story, as I conveyed why I was interested in attending the conference and pursuing a career in media. I also learned from the scholarship application question about what diversity means to me. Personally, this tool of storytelling to communicate is one of the things that enchants me about a career in media.
With my newly acquired resources, I prepared to plunge myself into this new professional endeavor, meet new people, and do media tours at different companies. I was excited about this part the most!
The Welcoming and Network Reception hosted by NBCUniversal at 30 Rock officially opened the conference. Over sparkling water and classy hors d’oeuvres, I could listen to NBCU employees and chat with Peggy as she made her rounds.
Socializing felt seamless, and my nerves were calmer because everyone was gathered for the same purpose. Before I knew it, I was deep in conversation and sharing laughs with some new faces from New Jersey to California as I met my peers from all over the country. By the end of the night, I was assisting with directions in the city and was pumped up to meet everyone again in the morning.
Day 2 began with a keynote on the State of Industry, followed by various panels on storytelling, streaming, and sports entertainment, and an inspirational and memorable keynote speech from Anne del Castillo, the Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. In the afternoon, there were workshops like The Art of Networking and panels like Millennial Perspectives, and Speed Mentoring Sessions where attendees could chat with industry leaders and professionals in small groups. And, I have to mention the Recruiters Tell All panel! One of the things I remember most was the powerful LinkedIn tips shared by a recruiter from A+E.
The final day transported me to my most anticipated segment, the media tours! Attendees could sign up for our two media tours. I chose A+E Networks and Spectrum Networks. At A+E, we got to meet and chat with the president & CEO of the company, Paul Buccieri. At Spectrum, the reporter who escorted us was down to earth and her story made me feel like my goals were attainable, plus we all left with some serious swag!
With a total of 300 participants, 15 topics, 15 sessions, and 56 speakers, there was so much to gain from the FUTURE NOW conference: the content, the peers, the experts, their insights and encouragement, the stories of trial and error, shortcomings, and rewards. By the end of the three days, I felt immensely gratified and empowered! So much so that four years later, I continue to stay connected, attend events, and volunteer with this beautiful organization.
This year’s conference will be back in-person for the first time since the pandemic. I am thrilled for this year personally, as I have just landed a dream gig within media as a Page at NBCUniversal starting this June 2023. It feels very surreal, especially considering I chatted with one of their representatives for the first time four years ago at the conference. The support and community that FUTURE NOW provides are immeasurable. There is a commitment to excellent programming which attendees can expect, and a warm atmosphere to network, connect, and start your career journey in media. I hope to meet you there!