This SMG profile is over a year in a making. Michelle and I have been in touch for a while now and timing was just never right for us to connect and publish something. But, as they say, good things happen to those who wait and I am thrilled with how this profile turned out. Michelle was both forthcoming and extremely helpful with her advice for those grinding away trying to make it in this industry. Enjoy!
Taylor Shold: Tell us about yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Michelle Gingras: Hi! My name is Michelle Gingras and I’m a sports journalist, working primarily in broadcasting and living in New York City! Most recently I worked for BeIN Sports Network which took me all over the country to cover the sidelines for C-USA football. Prior to my time in New York and with BeIN Sports Network, I spent three years in Tampa, Fl as the sideline reporter for the Tampa Bay Lightning and as a contributor for Fox Sports Sun. After graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans, La, I began my career in sunny San Diego, working as multimedia sports reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune and their cable television affiliate. I’ve always enjoyed connecting with people. When I was in elementary school, my librarian encouraged me to participate in a storytelling competition. From there, I was hooked. That, coupled with the fact that I was an athlete for most of my life and had seen first-hand the positive impact sports had on the community and on myself, made becoming a sports reporter feel natural.
Taylor: SMG is all about networking, how important has it been in your career?
Michelle: Networking is critical in any professional field, oftentimes the relationships you form and the impact you make on people are what set you apart. For me, networking began while I was still in college. I worked as both the digital and sports editor for Loyola’s school paper, the Maroon. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in that newsroom. After graduation, I was struggling to find my first job and not sure where to turn. That’s when I heard about a possible job opportunity in San Diego, working as a multimedia sports reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune. By pure luck, the editor there was also a Loyola and Maroon alum and because of the mutual people we knew who could speak to my ability, I was able to land my first job in broadcasting in San Diego. That’s just one example of how the networking I had done in college helped to benefit me. The relationships I’ve formed over the years have helped me to find opportunities throughout my career. In my opinion, the most efficient way to “network” is to look at every situation as an opportunity. If there’s a chance to introduce yourself to someone and make an impression, do it. If you have the opportunity to share your reel and get feedback from someone, do it. You never know who will have a job open in the future and the impression you make could be what sets you apart!
Taylor: When people are applying for on-air jobs, what are some ways they can stand out from the crowd?
Michelle: Having a strong reel that showcases your personality, highlights what you do well and shows diversity can help you stand out. If you’re lucky enough to get an interview, be vibrant and engaging. A lot of people can read from a teleprompter but if you can engage with the camera and showcase your personality, you will stand out.
Taylor: What’s one thing about this business you wish you knew before you started?
Michelle: At 18, I wish I knew that it’s not as glamourous as you think. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes! It includes long hours and not a lot of money when you’re first starting out. It can be difficult to break into the industry and get that first job and you have to be willing relocate to pretty much anywhere in the country. Students don’t always know these truths about the industry. They see their idols on TV, for me it was on ESPN, and think that’s where they’re headed next. It’s often a long road before you get to a stage like that, and while I wouldn’t change anything, I wish I was more aware of the realities of the industry when I was younger.
Taylor: What makes a great on-air person and how can people get better on-camera?
Michelle: In my opinion, the great on-camera people are prepared, visibly comfortable and genuine. The greats know how to engage with the camera and it’s obvious that they enjoy what they’re doing. When I was still working in Tampa, I had a great cameraman who would sometimes remind me to relax and have fun. If you’re prepared and know what you’re talking about at some point you just have to let go and have convictions in your abilities. When you look and feel relaxed and confident with what you’re talking about, conversation flows and it comes across well on camera.
Taylor: Agents are a topic that comes up a lot within this industry, what are your thoughts on if they are beneficial to people when they are just starting out?
Michelle: I think a lot of people have the misconception that if you get an agent, you’ll automatically get a job. It doesn’t work that way. Agents can help get you in the door, but your biggest cheerleader will always be yourself. When you’re first beginning your career, I think it’s more about making connections and then using those connections to help get you your first couple of jobs. Even if you start out in a position behind the camera, the relationships you make can help you transition to an on-camera job when it comes available. Once you have experience and you’re ready to take a bigger step in your career, for example like going to a big market or a national or regional network, then that’s where an agent’s relationships with the network and the agency’s reputation can help you get an interview or at least put your reel in front of the right person.
Taylor: What is your best practical advice for someone trying to succeed on-air in this industry?
Michelle: Be kind to yourself and stay positive. On-camera jobs are hard to come by and there are many factors that figure into the ultimate decision. It’s easy to take it personally and compare yourself to others when you don’t get a job that you want. A wise friend once told me, “a flower does not think about competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.” Don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing. As long as you’re focused on the ways that you become a better journalist and taking the steps to get there, the rest will work out as it’s meant to.
You can find Michelle on Twitter @MichelleGingras
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