Communications panel shares freelance expertise with students
Christian Binder ’13, Mariah Czap ’13 and Al Drago ’15 discussed their careers working as freelancers and how they established themselves in the communications field.
The School of Communications Career Office hosted an April 14 alumni/student panel on freelancing, inviting Christian Binder ’13, Mariah Czap ’13 and Al Drago ’15 to share their experiences working on their own.
The event, titled “COM Expert Panel: FREELANCING,” tackled an array of topics, including advice on how to get started in freelancing, what freelancers should charge, and how to interact with clients.
A photo gallery from the panel discussion is available on the School of Communications’ Flickr page.
While Binder and Czap, media arts and entertainment majors at Elon University, touched briefly on their current 9-to-5 employments, most of their conversations highlighted how they established themselves in the field with assistance from fellow alumni, friends and acquaintances.
A project manager at Yep Roc Music Group by day, Czap freelances as a digital consultant, assisting clients – often artists – with video, photography and design for their websites and social media platforms. She’s also dabbled in wedding photography and videography.
Czap got her start in freelancing while assisting an Elon alum with videography for a music festival. This work led to other opportunities with another acquaintance down the road.
During the panel session, Czap shared an early lesson she had regarding proper project budgeting. “I didn’t realize when you charge people for your service to take into account equipment rentals,” she recalled. “One time I shot a wedding and spent 85 percent of the budget on rentals. I probably made $25 after all of that work.”
Following nearly a year as an NCAA digital multimedia intern for Turner Sports, Binder – through the recommendation of a good friend – landed work as a freelance camera operator for Duke University’s in-house Blue Devil Network and ESPN3.
Binder recalled he never had a formal sit-down interview, and his first assignment was a bit of a trial by fire. He was given an assignment and a camera, and he was on his own. Binder succeeded, and his solid performance since has led to consistent work.
While still a student at Elon, Drago has already established himself as a freelance photo journalist, working part-time with the (Raleigh) News & Observer, as well as several other news publications and clients. His work has earned high accolades, including student photographer of the year from the White House News Photographers Association.
Drago’s advice to his fellow students was to take advantage of their internships, don’t hesitate to contact potential employers, and take class projects seriously. These in-class assignments can help establish yourself and lead to professional work opportunities, he pointed out.