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Joanna Balin

Joanna Balin ’11

Major: English and psychology
Company: Magilla Entertainment
Title: Producer
Field of Work: Media/Communications

What do you do?

I work for a production company in the development department, and my job is basically to make up new reality TV shows.

How did you become interested in your field?

I wanted to work in TV since deciding that Liz Lemon of 30 Rock was my spirit animal, and I've been in the industry since 2011.

What, if any, additional education (degree, discipline, institution) have you earned?

What skills are vital for success in your field?

EVERYTHING. I produce (both in the field and in the editing room?), write treatments, brainstorm concepts, shoot, edit, cast talent, and juggle around 50 development projects at a time. My team is very run-and-gun, and everyone needs to know how to do everything.

What experiences, internships, study, or previous jobs helped you get to your current position?

When I applied for the position, my bosses were specifically looking for someone who could write well. At the time, I was a production associate at ABC News Nightline, so I had multiple bylines to bring in as samples (and a degree in English to back them up). Nightline was also a very guerrilla-style operation, where everyone booked, shot, wrote, edited, and produced their own pieces, so the fact that I came equipped with those technical skills sealed the deal. It was preparation meeting luck—I didn't know anyone at the company, and applied through a production website. This is the only job I've ever had that I didn't get through networking.

What advice do you have for current students interested in your field?

Network. I'm lucky enough to hold a staff position, but development is a weird beast. Most of television is freelance and only for the length of the show, so you're constantly looking for your next job, and these jobs are rarely posted anywhere. The more people you know, the more work you'll get. Also, make sure you're diversified. Writing is great, but if you can write, shoot, and edit, you'll have a leg up over someone whose never held a camera or looked at an avid before.