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Career Moves: Hollywood agency opens its doors to Elon alum

Zachary Bocian ’17, a native of Yorktown Heights, New York, turned to staff members in the Student Professional Development Center to prepare for interviews and develop a strategy for success during one of the most stressful times of his undergraduate experience.

Zach Bocian '17, a cinema and television arts and political science double major recognized that landing a job at one of the big four agencies in Hollywood would be the first step in realizing his dream of becoming a major Hollywood player.

A native of Yorktown Heights, New York, Bocian is the latest person to be featured during the 2017-18 academic year in this series of profiles on the successes of students and alumni who have used the Student Professional Development Center to find and prepare for job and internship openings and graduate school placements with guidance from staff.

He recently answered questions from the SPDC 

With whom did you work with to prepare, and what help did you receive from the staff in The Student Professional Development Center?

Debby Wall, director of internships, helped me land my first internship at a small production company in New York City the summer after my freshman year at Elon. Over my senior year at Elon, I met with René Jackson, who helped me navigate my impending post-graduate challenges with ease and smarts, interview prep and strategy. Jackson, the associate director of career services for graduate school programs, is one of the most incredibly sincere, witty, smart, caring educators and mentors I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

How did your interest in the organization, company, or career develop?

Interning at two companies, Atlas Entertainment and CBS Films, with some of the best executives and producers in the film industry solidified my career interest in Hollywood.

While I was participating in the Elon in Los Angeles program, mentors in the film industry told me that a top-four agency was where I needed to start my career, and roughly only one percent of those who apply to entry-level programs at the big four firms tend to achieve acceptance.

Tell me about your experience in landing a career.

Although I applied to graduate school, multiple entry-level positions, and even a few post-graduate apprenticeships, my ultimate dream to be a major Hollywood player. I realized I had to land one of the most coveted entry-level positions in Tinseltown - that of an agent trainee at one of the top four talent agencies: CAA, WME, UTA, or ICM. 

It was inarguably one of the most stressful times of my undergraduate experience. I managed to coordinate several interviews at, as some describe, the “gatekeepers to Hollywood.”

United Talent Agency satisfied each aspect of the criteria for a great entry-level job and an opportunity for me to pursue my passion, and be successful, in this sect of the entertainment industry. Fortunately, within two weeks of graduation, I was offered a job with United Talent Agency and booked my one-way ticket to Los Angeles. Getting that phone call felt like the piano had finally been lifted off my back and all the hard work I put in here at my second home, was worth it. 

What have you learned from the experience?

That being strategically proactive is the best approach to landing your dream job. The job search allowed me to see just how important your professional reputation is. Whatever industry you’re entering, it is imperative that for every interview you go on, you thank the interviewer for their time. What makes you stand out is to personalize the interview to the company and recruiter you’ve had the opportunity to meet. Oh, and never forget to talk about contribution. Everyone wants to learn, only those who are strategically proactive know how to rightfully and positively contribute. 

Which faculty members did you work with to prepare and what help did you receive?

I worked René Jackson for the majority of my experience with the SPDC. I also worked with Debby Wall, Rhonda Kosusko, and Kim Giles. All were helpful, kind, and genuine. 

Jackson helped me strategically prepare for each of my potential post-graduate opportunities. Giving her insight on interview prep, graduate school timelines and offer negotiation. 

What recommendations would you share with other students about the Student Professional Development Center?

Allow the Student Professional Development Center to help you on your journey to discover your real passion, what you could see yourself doing after graduation and the rest of your life. I found my passion through countless discussions and chats with the SPDC staff. 

They’re number one in forming meaningful, strong relationships with hard-working students who want the most out of their professional aspirations. That’s what sticks with me. They care about optimizing a student’s chances at monetizing that which they love. 

Last May, the Cinelon Film Festival screened the short film “Facemask”  that Bocian created for his BFA thesis project at Elon. 

Kim Giles,
11/15/2017 7:55 AM