BY MIA TAPER

Unemployed, lazy, and broke. That’s how the media portrays millennials. Let’s face it: millennials, don’t often get positive posts in the news or great depictions in film and television. They’re painted as a debt-filled, job-hopping, financially unstable, yet optimistic generation. Generation Y has often been referred to as “Generation Limbo,” a phrase New York Times defined as “highly educated 20-somethings, whose careers are stuck in neutral, coping with dead-end jobs and listless prospects.” In fact, fewer than half of American millennials are unemployed or underemployed. As much as the media loves to rag on the the generation, there are a number of millennials, specifically those still in college, who do have jobs. And not just a job selling overpriced shirts and bandeaus at American Apparel, but careers that are jumpstarting their lives way ahead of their friends and classmates.

 

In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau concluded that of the 19.7 million undergraduates enrolled, 70% of them work and 20% of them have full-time jobs. When you think of these working students, you’re picturing of the business and tech majors, right? In a 2013 article by USA Today called “Arts majors jump ahead of tech grads in landing jobs,” reporter Lauren Kirkwood argued that in times of hardship and recession, those with degrees in technology will have a tougher time finding a job than those in the arts. In a 2009 article by The Guardian named “What to do with a degree in film studies,” reporter Angela Foster says film students are gaining invaluable skills that are not only useful within the film and television industry but also in journalism, marketing and advertising, as well as education. Foster reports that in 2009, 60% of those with degrees in film reported having full-time jobs, 12.5% of those going into the film and television industry. Sure, art majors often get the bad rep for choosing a non-practical major just to follow their dreams but below are film and television majors who not only have full-time jobs in the industry but are also still finishing up their undergraduate degrees. So take that, Forbes!

 

Matt & the Amazing Technicolor Job: palette Matt Greenberg, 21, plays with color. The NYU senior works as a colorist for Irving Harvey, a NYC post-production company. As a colorist, he balances, corrects, and enhances the color in videos, ranging from commercials to music videos to movies. Greenberg started at company as an intern in June of 2013, while juggling two other media-based internships. After a month he was promoted to junior colorist and that July he was hired full-time. A few months later, when school resumed, it was difficult to balance 12-14 hour days in school and at work. “I ended up taking on a little less work at Irving Harvey than I would have liked,” Greenberg explains of the career-school juggle. “ I scheduled my classes very carefully to leave enough room to be working, and didn’t put as much time and effort into school as I had in the past.” Now as a part-time student, he’s able to breathe a little easier in his last semester. He’s only taking two classes that require very little outside work and colors the rest of the time. His job as a colorist allows him to support himself, such as paying for rent and groceries. As he prepares to receive his BFA in Film & TV from NYU in May, Greenberg can sit pretty as his classmates scramble to find jobs or internships post-graduation. 

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Greenberg working with a client.

 The Woman on the Field: You can always catch Kristina Rathjen, 21, on the football field. Usually holding a camera or accompanied by a camera team, Rathjen is one of NFL Film’s project coordinators. Her rise to her job came with a sacrifice: taking a semester off during her senior year at NYU, where she majors in Film & Television Production. The summer before senior year, Rathjen was originally an intern at NFL Films in the project management department. About halfway through her internship, her boss asked her what her plans beyond the summer were and before she knew it, she had an interview with one of the VPs of the company and her internship ended early in order to start her seasonal position. Her parents were thrilled. “They’re very thankful that I found a job that I love,” Rathjen explains. Now she spends her fall semester travelling along the East Coast, producing and coordinating film crews to shoot NFL footage. Thankfully with her new job, she’s been able to pay for her rent, bills, and even car insurance. For now, she has to worry about coordinating film crews for the February 2015 Superbowl in Arizona. Ultimately, she’d aims to be an executive at HBO, but “of course, life is full of twists and turns,” she says. “I have no idea what offers will come between now and then.”

 

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Rathjen on the field with a co-worker.

Little Guy at a Big Studio: Christian Grier, 21, works for one of the coolest directors around. Grier is employed at Mirada Studios, the production studio of Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Hellboy). After graduating from Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore, Maryland, he reached out to older alums for potential connects to the film industry in Los Angeles. One of them connected him with Mirada Studios. Though Grier is finishing up his last year at NYU, majoring in Film & Television Production, he often travels to Los Angeles, where Mirada Studios has a full-time Post-Production Assistant position waiting for him. This will be his 3rd year working for them. “Every day is different,” Grier says of his job. “One day you can just be cleaning the back of the storage room, another you can be working with one of the directors on developing projects in preparation for a pitch to large studio execs.” His earnings from Mirada aren’t enough to support himself independently and the hours are demanding. Sometimes he works a 16-hour shift on a Sunday or he’ll be called in last minute. “I think of it as a more of a challenge to ask yourself how bad do you want to be a part of this industry when this comes up,” Grier explains.

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Grier working at Mirada Studios.

What’s important to remember is that Greenberg, Rathjen, and Grier got their jobs through the technical skills they learned in college while pursuing a degree in the arts. With technology becoming such a significant portion of our everyday lives, especially when it comes to video content such as news, documentaries, music videos, advertisements, and more, it’s becoming apparent that learning technical skills such as producing a shoot, editing a video, or balancing the colors are invaluable tools to have. Stanford University’s MBA professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, in an interview for Time, gave his take on the six key qualities of a successful person. The qualities include energy and physical stamina, focus, sensitivity to others, flexibility, ability to tolerate conflict, and submerging one’s ego and getting along. Whether you’re gearing up for a long coloring session, focusing on where the next shot on the football field will be, or adjusting your flexibility for a big-time director, getting a degree in the arts isn’t so bad as the media makes it out to be.