In today’s media world, getting your first break can be tough. Competition is stiff and landing an on-air job can feel like a daunting task. Meet, Allison Luthman! She is a recent college grad who is now working in a duel behind the scenes/in-front of the camera role covering Penn State University sports. I had a chance to chat with her about how she landed this gig right out of school and her advice for other new grads.
Taylor Shold: Tell us about yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Allison Luthman: I’m from Coldwater, Ohio, a small farm town close to the Indiana border. I attended Ball State University where I majored in Journalism and Telecommunications with focuses in Digital Sports Production and News. While I was in school, I tried to learn a little bit about everything I could. Our field is so diverse and can be taken so many directions. I wanted a taste of it all to decide which way I wanted to try first. I was lucky enough to be a member of Ball State Sports Link and this is where I fell in love with sports media. It gave me the opportunity to create feature stories with some of our amazing athletes and to sideline report on ESPN3 broadcasts. The sideline is really where I found my passion. In May, I graduated and moved to State College, PA shortly after where I’m currently working as a production assistant and studio/sideline reporter covering Penn State Football, Spikes Minor League Baseball and local high school football and baseball.
Taylor: SMG is all about networking, how has it helped your career?
Allison: If you haven’t heard this before, there’s and idea out there that networking is everything. That saying is completely right. For me, I’ve seen the benefit of just being nice and going out of your way to get to know everyone you work with. Whether that’s your photog, simply someone else in your major or someone else working in a different department. One of my mentors worked in marketing at an internship I had a couple of years ago at FOX 5 in Washington, D.C. I made a point to meet other people in the building to see what I could learn from them. He still helps me out in my career to this day. Be nice to everyone and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If its someone senior, simply ask what’s the best piece of advice they’ve learned in this field. You never know when that connection could come in handy or if you could help them out in some way.
Taylor: In your opinion, what makes someone great on-camera and how can people get better?
Allison: I don’t think I’m anywhere near experienced enough to say what makes someone great on camera, I’m still trying to get to that point myself. What I will say is to always be looking to improve. I don’t have one person I try to model my reports after, but I do spend time here and there watching other people’s reels online. It’s a good way to see what you notice as an unbiased viewer. I really think the most learning comes from watching yourself. It’s incredible to see the difference in only a month or so, and we’re often our own best critic.
Taylor: You landed a on-air gig basically right out of school…what is your secret?
Allison: I was lucky to get a job straight out of school covering one of the best teams in college football. A lot of it came down to the diversity of my resume and experience. I did news stand ups, hosted basketball games, sideline reported on live broadcasts, hosted studio shows, etc. Yes, I liked some things better than others but there’s a lot of value in diversity of experience. Don’t be afraid to find an internship in a new city for a summer. You’ll learn a lot by getting out of your comfort zone.
Taylor: Finally, what’s the best advice you have for someone looking for a career in media?
Allison: The best advice I have for someone looking for a career in media circles back to networking. Get to know everyone you can. Ask questions. Be open-minded. This career isn’t easy; you’ll be working long hours and weekends. That being said, you’ll get to do a lot of things that will just make you stop and say “wow, I get to do this for my job?”. Don’t quit. Don’t stop grinding. You’ll make it.
MUST READ: So You Want To Be On TV?
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