TEA Connect Blog

11 April 2015

GibGab: TEA helps students find careers in themed entertainment

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) cultivates students and young talent through its NextGen initiative. Activities include TEA GibGab, a speed networking event bringing together TEA NextGen members, who are college students or recent grads - with TEA member companies looking for new hires. Professional development takes place through a series of tightly scheduled, brief interviews and a group question-and-answer session.

TEA president
Steve Birket,
Birket Engineering

A TEA GibGab event enables up to 36 candidates to present themselves to as many as 18 different companies, in fields ranging from design and media to engineering and AV, from economics and project management to theme park operations, master planning and more. 

"These young people are remarkable," said TEA President Steve Birket (Birket Engineering) who participated in TEA GibGab East. "My own company has hired two TEA NextGen members in the past year. The large entertainment owner/operators tell me that TEA’s member companies are their lifeblood. The talent we cultivate is our industry's future.”

TEA GibGab East - April 2

At TEA GibGab East, April 2 in Orlando, Florida, hosted at the offices of VOA Associates - and sponsored by VOA, FUNA International and Nickelodeon - TEA NextGen Committee Chair Clara Rice of JRA reported that several attendees traveled to Orlando specifically to attend the event, including from as far away as Colorado and Montana. "Now that's dedication!" said Rice.

Some will likely find work as a result of GibGab, as has happened in previous years.  Rice said, "In speaking with participating companies afterwards, many think they found good matches.” In addition to VOA, FUNA and Nickelodeon, participating companies were Acomb Ostendorf & Associates, Adirondack Studios, AECOM, Alcorn McBride, Birket Engineering, Busch Gardens Tampa, Electrosonic, exp, Luce Group, nth Degree, Rethink Leisure & Entertainment, Themeworks and Universal Creative. 

TEA GibGab West - April 16

TEA GibGab West, scheduled for April 16 and hosted at the offices of Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, California is likewise filling up. Sponsoring companies are Rethink Leisure & Entertainment, Mad Systems, Technifex and

TEA NextGen chair
Clara Rice, JRA

The Producers Group. Additional companies confirmed include Arc Thematic, BRC Imagination Arts, Entertainment Design Corp., Fox Location Based Entertainment, Lexington Design + Fabrication, Lightning in a Bottle, RGH Entertainment, Technifex, Thinkwell Group, Universal Creative and Visual Terrain. Organizer Arielle Rassel said, "The response has been incredible. We've got NextGen members traveling in from multiple states for the event. We're at a peak point in the industry right now, and companies are clamoring for solid young talent. It's inspiring."

The support of dedicated volunteers and sponsors is invaluable to TEA programs and events. In addition to those mentioned above, key TEA GibGab volunteers include Andrew Hansen, Anne Huang and Daryl Le Blanc (VOA), Tito Soto and Laurel Van Patten (Rethink), John Paul Guerts, Kirsten Cobb and Patrick Kling (Nickelodeon), Ken Kalish (FUNA), Jennifer Kinsella and Jovon Eberhart. 

"We’d like to thank all involved in organizing the TEA GibGab," said Gary Blumenstein of sponsor company Rethink Leisure & Entertainment.  "It’s a beneficial event to attend as it gives you a chance to meet the new talent and delve a little deeper into their skills and goals. What’s most encouraging is that you have all of this NextGen talent, whether they are artists or engineers or both, coming from widely diverse backgrounds, yet they’re sharing similar goals to create the immersive stories and experiences of themed entertainment."

Future of the visitor attractions industry

Programs such as GibGab help perpetuate the unique culture of our industry," said TEA COO Jennie Nevin.  "Especially in Asia, we are seeing dramatic growth in the leisure sector, and there is huge demand for what our members can provide. TEA is pleased to do its part to mentor new generations in the creation of compelling experiences and places."

TEA COO Jennie Nevin

TEA activities of this nature are taking place around the world - in the Association's Europe & Middle East Division and Asia Pacific Division, as well as its Eastern and Western North American Divisions. They include outreach to academics as colleges and universities develop themed entertainment curricula, and the formation of TEA@University clubs; mentoring programs, webinars and opportunities to volunteer at TEA conferences. TEA's annual SATE conference (Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience) in September is traditionally hosted on a college campus to make the most of the Association's growing international dialog with students and the academic community.

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Posted by Judy Rubin

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