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By Anna Harrison, FN alum '21

The spring semester of my senior year was, frankly, terrible. My classes were virtual, my internship was rapidly draining both my sanity and patience, and what little social interaction I had came either from my horses or my Dungeons and Dragons group, which probably says a lot about me. I was a semi-regular with my career counselor, but my job applications went unanswered, and my frustration only mounted. I felt unmoored and was searching for a lifeline. (We’ve all been there.)

After someone in Emory’s Film Studies department forwarded an advertisement for the FUTURE NOW Media and Entertainment Conference, I decided to apply. It wasn’t quite a lifeline, but it was something—a little bit of flotsam to hold onto. I had very little idea of what would actually go on at the Conference, only that it was the first organization I had seen aimed at who I was—an upcoming graduate passionate for the media and entertainment industry but struggling to figure out how to break in and get a job. To know that there was a group dedicated to helping students and soon-to-be graduates like me was an enormous comfort.

The Conference itself turned out to be illuminating, dynamic, and practical, running the gamut from panels and talks about the industry to skills workshops to info sessions with recruiters to speed mentoring sessions where student attendees connected with mentors from the industry.

But to me, the most valuable take away from the Conference was the knowledge that I was not alone in my floundering and the realization that there were paths for me out there that I didn’t even know existed: program development, production, ad sales, gaming, sports, the list goes on. Suddenly, my dreams seemed more attainable. I learned that there is no one singular path that works for everyone, and that there are actually more paths than I had ever thought possible. That realization, more than the cover letter tips or even the conversation with Tina Fey, was what has stuck with me the most.

In an industry as seemingly vast and hard to break into as this one, you might feel like the smallest fish in the biggest pond, but the perspective that FUTURE NOW has given me has proved invaluable. Transitioning from college to the “real world” comes with its own unique set of anxieties, especially for those who want to go into the media and entertainment industry, but the FUTURE NOW Conference was like a tonic—not a guarantee of anything, but a reassurance that you can do it and break in and that they are there to support your journey.

Of course, in many ways, the Conference is what you make of it. You can skate through with your computer on in the background, scribbling the occasional note, or you can commit. That doesn’t just mean actively listening, it means engaging…asking questions, reaching out to the speakers, connecting with alums, and more. (Don’t worry if you’re shy about talking to people—one benefit of a virtual setting is that no one will be able to see your face or hear your voice, so don’t worry if your ears turn red.)

The only reason I have a job right now is because I stumbled upon the jackpot that is FUTURE NOW and I followed up—don’t let this opportunity pass you by. It has quite literally changed my life, and yours could be next.



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