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  • Career Advice For the Entertainment Industry with Bob Mentele

 April 28

by LearnStageLighting.com

Learn Stage Lighting Podcast

Welcome to Episode 98! It’s been a great month and a lot of fun for me personally to be joined by some great experts in the industry.

Today, we have another special guest, Bob Mentele of Elation Lighting who will be discussing career advice for those who may want to consider a career in the entertainment industry.

A quick note, that today’s sponsor is Amazon! Through Amazon, if you do purchase any items from them, we would love for you to use my link, Amazon, and we get a small commission for referring you. Using this link will not cost you thing and would really help us in everything that we do here at Learn Stage Lighting.

Main Segment (2:15)

There are so many different career paths when working with entertainment that you may not know where to start or what fields to consider. That’s what we will be diving into today with Bob Mentele of Elation Lighting.

David: It’s very interesting when working within the live event and entertainment industry because you have people such as myself that did not go to college to pursue a career in this field. But then you do meet people that did go to college to pursue a career, and you actually went this route.

Yes, I did and I did take a very different path than what most technicians in my field would take. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to so I went to college and first went to a small community college. I did stick with the arts because I knew that was an area I wanted to learn more about.

Throughout college, I lost my love for music and began acting, this led me to learn more about technical theatre which appealed to me.

I realized that I didn’t want be an actor and gravitated towards the technical aspect because it did appear to have more of stable life and even a steady income.

Topic: College and Tuition Costs (8:25)

Personally, what I realized early on with College is that the first two years, regardless of your major, is general studies. It’s just like being in highschool expect you’re paying more for it.

Another piece I realized is that growing up, we’re taught to go to a good college, earn your degree, and then you can begin your career. The downside to this is that with Arts, you’re not going to make a fortune off of it. Very little people do. Yes, you can make a decent living and obviously we both do but if you’re paying for a more expensive school you’ll be in a mountain of debt.

I know people that go to these amazing colleges but then they get started in the world with careers that don’t pay them very well.

If it’s your dream to go to a prestige college, then by all means follow your dreams. But if you’re looking for some advice then I would suggest considering other colleges that still offer a great education and can prepare you for a career.

I learned a lot of things in college and I believe that there are some people that can do really well in college, then there are others that can learn by doing. It really depends on the individual, what they want, and how they learn.

Topic: When a College Degree Should Be Considered (15:00)

There are times that a college degree should be considered. If you are someone that would like a career with a major corporation then a college degree may be required.

While there are many different career paths, most corporations will require a Bachelor’s Degree to get started with an entry level position. If you are someone that would like to teach at some point in your career, then a college degree should at least be considered.

If you do have a specific career path that you want to follow and there are jobs that do require a college education, then definitely consider going to college.

Topic: Designing in This Industry (19:24)

There are so many different options and paths that can pertain to designing. Whether it’s lighting, stage design, and so on. Not to mention there are different levels of work and companies you can work with.

The industry is in some ways considered tight knit and small but the opportunities are so vast because of what we do. If you want to do more large event and type of work, you probably want to consider a college degree.

Regardless if you go to college or not, there will be a point in your career that companies and/or clients are going to not focus on your education but actually on the work you have done throughout your career.

The work that you have done in your career will speak more volume of your capabilities than your degree.

There will be certain positions that are entry level and you can learn skills by just getting started by getting a job that would pertain to the career you would like to have. Starting with an entry level job that has you doing the “grunt” work that will actually give you the hands on experience.

Topic: Different Avenues in the Industry (29:53)

When you get started with your career and get settled with the work you’ll then start to realize how many different positions and type of work that people can do. There’s the type of work you do get started with as an entry level worker but that can help open doors to so many other types of companies and work that you can do.

Working in production, I learned so much about everything like audio, lighting, setup, and so on. Having this experience it only increases your skills and what you are able to do.

When you get into production and live events there are so many corporate companies that need a tech director or a design director. It can open a lot of doors for your career. Working for larger companies can offer a more stable income, hours, and even benefits if that is a type of life that you would like to have.

While personally, I have a passion for theater and to help fuel that creative side I do a lot of freelancing when I am not working at my day job. There’s always other options to help you stay relevant in your passion and be able to have a corporate job.

Topic: Career and Personal Changes (41:55)

There are going to be different stages in your life that you may no longer want to travel as much for work or even find that a more stable job will appeal to you.

But choosing this route doesn’t have to end your live production work. There will still be opportunities and connections that you can work with on the side as a freelancer or even just doing it for fun.

Nothing is concrete and there will always be ways to fuel your creative side.

In the beginning of your career it’s so important to take advantage of all of your opportunities and grow your skills. But as you get older and you know more about the industry you don’t always have to say yes. If you love doing certain parts of the work, then go for it. Otherwise, you will reach a point in your career that you don’t have to say yes to everything.

Working in production as a career and there are going to be jobs where it’s very much on repeat and doing the same thing over and over. It’s great that there are so many different avenues and type of work available.

It does depend on what you want to do, who you want to work with, and keeping an open mind with a career in this industry.

Closing (49:20)

Thank you for joining us today and we hoped you enjoyed the interview with Bob. See you again next week!

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