How to make it in LA: First Job Profile of Pivot Producer

This summer I connected with some amazing professionals who were willing to share their wisdom. Each profile features how their first job out of college led to their amazing careers today, as well as their advice to help you do the same. 

From my favorite movie, The Help, to my favorite documentary, Waiting for Superman, I’m a huge fan of the work of Participant Media. They use media to tell a story and create awareness that can change the world. And since they’re launching a new network just for millennials called Pivot, I thought it’d be great to learn some career tips from the new network’s senior producer, Adam:

First Job Profile: Adam Sumner, Senior Producer of Pivot at Participant Media 

1) What was your first job out of college and how did you get it? 

My first job out of college was working for a commercial producer in Charleston, SC. I got the job through my video production teacher. 

I was eager to get into the business and sought the first place that might help me, and I guess I got lucky in that my first avenue opened for me. We produced and edited mainly regional commercials, but it was a great first step in the right direction.  

2) What was the most important thing you learned from your first job? 

I think you have to be eager to learn. You need to bring some practical knowledge with you, but don’t act like you know everything, especially in this business. 

There are ways to say things and set etiquette that can only be taught by watching seasoned veterans. The most important thing I learned was listening and watching, but also being eager to act and help. 

3) What did you to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today? 

I managed to use my previous experience as an assistant producer to get on the documentary crew for the Bonnaroo music festival. I was very persistent to get that job and I think having that little bit of experience helped me land the gig. 

This job would change my life forever and still stands as one of the most incredible events in my life. Everyone on the crew was from New York or LA, and they’d say “where do you live in LA?” … and I’d respond, “I’m from South Carolina.”

I was a little bit out of place you might say, but again I was ready to listen and learn. I made some incredible friends and lasting relationships and from there I got the courage to make the move to LA and give this a real shot. I had nothing to lose. 

4) What advice do you have for a recent graduate who is struggling to find their first job after college? 

As I said above, you have nothing to lose. If you are young and free from serious attachments, shoot for the moon. Go for it. You can always move back in your parents basement. 

You also need to build on personal relationships. Searching the internet for job postings is like a shot in the dark. It really is about who you know – hit the streets, really get eager and annoying for what you really want.

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I second all of that!  Great advice – thank you Adam!

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