Featured Alumni

Jen Turriff
2011 Film Alumna
Owner, Local Petaler

Jen is a 2011 Film graduate who is currently Owner of The Local Petaler. We asked Jen a few questions and here’s what she had to say!

What do you like most about working at The Local Petaler?

I’m my own boss! I’m responsible for my success, or my own failure, and that’s pretty thrilling. I love my clients; I love being part of some special moment in their lives.

What advice do you have for TFC candidates currently and actively job searching?

Don’t limit yourself. When I graduated I had this false sense of confidence that my dream job was right around the corner – it’s just not the case. You have to work for that dream job, and it’s certainly never your first job. It takes time, effort, networking and making connections, etc. So take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, but be sure you don’t take those first job or jobs for granted. It’s there that you’ll learn and grow enough to be qualified for that really special job down the line. So work hard and focus on what’s happening now, not what could happen later.

How did your experience at TFC help you secure your current role?

Hmm… how did my experience at TFC help me become a florist? I’d have to say not much at all! But it definitely helped me become a business owner. As a producing student, I was taught that producers run the show! That’s what I loved – having a hand in all aspects of the production, from start to finish. And the same is true for owning my own business. I did all the same work: writing a business plan, budgeting, seeking financing, hiring, etc. What’s great about producing is that you’re part creative and part businessperson. And even though I’m in a very different industry, I’m essentially a producer.

What would you look for if you were in the position to hire new graduates from TFC?

I’m probably not on their list of places to apply to! But I will say that all the success that I had in years past in film/tv industry was because I followed through whether it was with my application or letter or phone call. Sending an actual letter in the mail is huge! But keep it short and don’t include any of your work. They need to ask you for it.
I made contact with an agent in LA by mailing a letter. It was short: just an introduction to who I am, what I’ve done, and what I want to do. End it by asking how they can help you.

I followed up my letter with a phone call a week later and within an hour, I got an email from the agent asking for samples of my work. Don’t be afraid to go old school!

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

EVERYTHING. I wish I had been older and had more life experience before my time at TFC. To be on such a fast-track, I needed to have the maturity to really appreciate every job that came my way and to make every connection possible. I had an internship with Second City around the time that I graduated, where I worked with people like Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong, and I was such an idiot thinking I shouldn’t talk to them or “friend” them on Facebook, and now they’re literally ALL on SNL. So five years later when I have a huge packet of comedy writing, I can’t send it to the 25 writers I know in New York. Don’t be an idiot – send that friend request.

What was your favorite thing about TFC?

My mentors… I had several teachers who were incredibly impactful in my life. I was going through a lot while I was in school, trying to figure out who I was and where I fit in in the world… you know, the usual… and I needed guidance. I’m so grateful that I met Peter and Amy and Killian at that time in my life. (Sincere thank you to you all!)

What was your least favorite thing about TFC?

Anything petty or stupid that got in the way. You really don’t have time for that. Don’t get caught up in anything that prevents you from being your best professional self.

Name one thing that made you choose TFC over other colleges?

I chose TFC because it was a fast-track to the industry. It didn’t waste time with BS classes that you are required to take at a 4-year university. I had come from two years at the University of Illinois where I was taking classes like “Geology 101” and “The History of Graffiti.” Trust me, they’re not interesting as they sound, and I’m definitely not applying what I learned to daily life.




Hayley Mellish

Hayley is a 2015 Film graduate who is currently an Office Production Assistant at NBC Universal. We asked Hayley a few questions and here’s what she had to say!

What do you like most about working in Chicago’s TV Production industry?

I like having a lot of responsibility and the opportunity to go very far very quickly. It’s not easy, but you learn a lot in a short amount of time and meet a ton of people. From an office PA perspective, I love watching each episode go from an outline of a script to a finished product and getting to watch each member of the office and crew give 100% to their craft.

What advice do you have for TFC candidates interested in joining Chicago TV Productions?

Network and self-educate. You need to get used to being thrown into a room of adults you’ve never met and introducing yourself, because as a PA you will be thrown into a crew of 150 strangers and you will have to confidently navigate that. Also, when it comes time to find your next gig, being social, positive, and outgoing is key. I also recommend self-educating about whatever you want to do. There are tons of websites, blogs, Facebook pages, and podcasts about industry topics. Entry level film industry jobs don’t come with very much training, so in order to set yourself apart from the dozens of other people clamoring for work, seek out information that will prepare you and set you apart.

How did your experience at TFC help your professional development path?

TFC helped me most in the sense that it got me used to working hard under tight deadlines. It gave me all of the resources to network and get involved in film organizations outside of school. The schooling was great and very informative, but TFC was very upfront that graduation itself wouldn’t get us everything. They really encouraged us to take advantage of the school and faculty’s resources while we could.

What would you look for if you were in the position to hire new graduates from TFC?

Personality-wise, I would look for someone who is enthusiastic about learning, inquisitive, and not a complainer. Work in this industry can be physically and mentally challenging and anyone who has looked into it should know that. I would look for someone who knows this and is up for the challenge. Resume-wise, it needs to be perfect (no typos, consistent formatting, easy to skim, etc). That piece of paper is sometimes the only thing you have to represent yourself, so make it look nice.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would take more advantage of the free equipment and try to learn more about cameras. I would do more passion projects outside of schoolwork.

What piece of advice do you have for TFC candidates actively job searching?

Go to networking events, screenings, attend or volunteer at local film festivals, see who’s who on IMDB and the DGA website, and cold message industry folks on LinkedIn and email based on your research. Do not be afraid to reach out. Sooner or later you will run into the same people and they will know your face, then your name, then the next time they hear of a gig they’ll put your name into the pot. Everyone in this industry relies on word of mouth recommendations when hiring, so you must relentlessly self-promote and follow up with people in order to obtain and sustain employment.


Lena Goodnough

Animation & VFX
2015 Alumna
3D Modeler & Animator: Parsons

I didn’t grow up knowing that one day I would go into 3D modeling and animation. In fact, I spent my whole life planning to be a teacher. After a surprising last minute change of majors, which shocked both my parents and myself, I started studying video game design at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. There, I got an excellent education and learned a lot about the process of making a video game. However, what really interested me where my classes in modeling and animation. I started to realize that my true passion was in 3D modeling. That was what I wanted my career to focus around.

Upon graduation I was all set to start modeling for video games, but I realized that, despite my hard work and good education, my skills just weren’t up to snuff to break into the industry. I said goodbye to Ohio and moved to Chicago to hone my skills at Tribeca Flashpoint College. There, I concentrated on learning strong modeling techniques. My choice to add two more years of education into my life really paid off, and now I find myself more confident in my abilities and employed doing what I love. Currently, I am working as a 3D modeler and animator at Parsons Corporation in Chicago.

You might have heard the phrase “knowledge is power,” and I have to say that it’s actually true. In high school I was very caught up in getting A’s, but it never really mattered to me if I actually understood what I was taught. I was really good at regurgitating information, but not very good at actually learning anything. Going through two colleges, followed by a job search, really made me realize that every skill you acquire gives you more opportunity to choose your career and your own path in life. I want to encourage everyone to absorb all the knowledge you need to do what you love. It might take a while, but it’ll be worth it. Focus on learning and acquiring skills and the good grades and opportunities will follow.

Brandon Sanders

Game & Interactive Media
2015 Alumnus
Game Engineer: InContext Solutions

I graduated from TFC in May of 2015 and began an internship at InContext Solutions, a virtual store simulation company. Since then, I have been hired full-time as a Game Engineer. The best part of working at InContext is being on a team of excited guys who work hard every day to innovate our industry.

My advice for anyone in the job search right now is to look outside your immediate industry. You never know what kind of job you will end up loving. I wanted to be a game programmer when I left school. Now I am working on store simulation software… and it is awesome.

Justin Jackola

Film & Broadcast
2010 Alumnus
Director/Founder: JJack Productions

My favorite part about my job and this industry is working on such unique projects. One week we’ll be filming interviews with disabled kids, and the next week we’ll be filming aerial drone shots for a rap video flying over a yacht on lake Michigan. You meet amazing people, with amazing talent, creating major influence on the world. I also sincerely love the flexibility/challenge of running my own company. It’s insanely challenging and tiring, but worth it in the end.

My advice to you in regards to job hunting is in the following list:

“We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things” – Herb Kelleher, co-founder, Chairman Emeritus, and former CEO of Southwest Airlines. Stay busy making things! The momentum is contagious.
Network. Buy business cards. Collect business cards. Look up the person online. Tell them what you enjoy about their work. Then follow up every 4-6 months by creating an excel spreadsheet of all your contacts. I promise it’ll pay off.
Watch the crowd. Go the opposite direction. Don’t think there are “normal” ways of doing things. Most rules are made up.
All opportunities are disguised as problems. That’s what a job is, it’s solving problems and getting paid to do so.
There is no failure. Only Feedback. Failing just means you pushed yourself further than you were able to go. That’s exactly what you should be doing.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Do things you are scared to do. It’s freeing.
A disorganized genius is no match for the average person with a daily routine. Make a schedule for yourself and stay busy 8+ hours a day working on projects in your industry. Especially when you’re looking for a job because it’ll help you get a job.

Meredith Norman

Recording Arts
2015 Alumna
Audio Assistant: Doner

As a young child, I was always fixated with the sounds of the world around me. I would listen to music all day and try to figure out how each instrument blended together so seamlessly. In my early teen years, I started buying various music production programs. I would sit on the computer for hours making little beats. Eventually, I figured out how to manipulate sounds and create full songs. In high school, I taught myself how to play guitar and bought an interface, condenser microphone and Cubase to start recording instruments and vocals. Before I knew it, I was recording friends in my little homemade studio.

After high school, I attended Central Michigan University for two years to study Audio Engineering. At CMU, I was part of a record label that recorded bands and put on live concerts for local artists. I also took some broadcast classes to get a feel for the radio industry. During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I interned at a post-production studio in Southfield, MI called Ron Rose Milagro. I was so obsessed with music; I never thought working at a post house producing commercials would interest me. Little did I know, I would come to love recording voiceovers and creating sound design. Post-production was a whole new world of audio that I’d never been exposed to!

After two years at Central, I choose to transfer to complete my degree at a more industry driven college which specialized in the recording arts. I was referred to Tribeca Flashpoint by an audio engineer that had worked in the industry for a while. I toured the school and fell in love with the faculty and equipment! The gear was modern and fresh in the industry. During my first year, I studied both music production and sound design. I always loved music production, but I started to develop a passion for working on post-production, video games and advertisements. One of the major reasons I loved sound design was because I could still incorporate music into the project, while also working with sound effects, dialogue and voiceovers. To finalize my decision on which path to continue studying (music production vs. sound design), I decided to do an internship at a music-recording studio in my second year at Tribeca. This was very valuable because I had real life experiences in both parts of the industry. After a hard decision, I decided to finish my final year at Tribeca in the sound design path.

After college, my ultimate goal was to move back home to Michigan and find a job at a post-production company. This was a very scary time in my life because like most college graduates, I wasn’t sure where I was going to work. To ensure that I was prepared when I left college, I started interviewing with different companies prior to graduating. Fortunately, I interviewed at an advertising agency called Doner and accepted a paid position to be their audio intern for the summer. After the internship, I am happy to say I was offered a job to stay with the agency and become an audio assistant for the company’s new studio.

My advice for aspiring audio engineers is to be humble and always strive to improve your skills. Constantly seek new work opportunities and be open to different projects. The more versatile you are, the better off you will be. Also, network with everybody! Don’t be shy, ask questions and be flexible when working with all different types of people. This industry can be tough, but there are jobs out there if you’re willing to work hard enough.

Eddie Loera

Animation & VFX
2012 Alumnus
Finishing Assistant / VFX Artist: Hootenanny TV

I graduated from TFC in 2012 from the Animation & VFX program and I’m currently employed as a Finishing Assistant/VFX Artist at Hootenanny TV; a post production house, working mostly with television spots. I started full-time on 9/24/2012, right after freelancing for them for two weeks.

My favorite part of working at Hootenanny TV would have to be the environment and the people. The entire space has a very homey feel to it. Everyone that I work with is easy to get along with and they all have a great sense of humor. Working in a place like this makes it feel like you’re not always at work (which is a good thing!)

It’s really hard to give just one piece of advice to someone who will be, or is currently looking for work. There are so many things that play into the job search that it all seems daunting at first. I guess if there was only one thing I could say to a soon-to-be-graduate or recent graduate, is that you should never give up. If you truly love what you do, you’ll keep working on your craft even after you graduate. A very large majority of students who graduate will not have a job lined up for them right after they walk across the stage; I sure didn’t. Take what you can get, freelance work, internships, anything to get you in the door and continue growing and learning. So, I guess that’s my one piece of advice: never stop learning!

Ana De Irisarri

Recording Arts
2015 Alumna
Sound Designer & Music Composer: ARU

I graduated from Tribeca Flashpoint College in May of 2015 and began an internship at Audio Recording Unlimited (ARU), where I was then hired as a full-time Sound Designer & Music Composer. The best part of working at ARU is the environment and the people I work with…it’s like working with family.

My advice for anyone in the job search right now is to leave the mediocrity…just kidding! In all seriousness, this isn’t an easy field to break into; but if you love what you do, seek out opportunities, show an interest, and find places where you can show what you’re capable of, over time this passion and interest brings positive benefits. Obviously, you have to strive to be the best and always go after more because the competition is huge. Dedication, passion, and hard work, always bring good results.

Mitchel Mussatto

Film & Broadcast
2011 Alumnus
President & Creative
Director: Junior Giant Productions

As a small business owner I enjoy the challenges that accompany every aspect toward making a piece of media. Managing a team of creatives toward a common vision while balancing the financial and logistical end of each project. There’s a lot of long hours, 7 days a week of meetings, shoots, networking, you name it. It all pays out in the incredible satisfaction of seeing your initial idea reach it’s potential as a piece of media.

The best advice I could give is to embrace opportunity. Opportunities will come at the most unexpected, inconvenient times. The willingness to commit to new chances, regardless of your current situation, is crucial. You never know how far your next job can take you. Be open to changing direction. Say yes as often as you can, work tirelessly, and you’ll find the career that is most rewarding to you.

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