TEA News

08 May 2019

Successful TEA GibGab West serves 42 NextGen members and 21 member companies - Diane Buchwalder reports

Ready for takeoff: Successful Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) GibGab West speed-networking event hosted at WDI Grand Central Air Terminal building, April 2019 

If you’ve yet to attend a TEA GibGab event, it might look like a far cry from the average mixer; it could more accurately be described as the networking version of musical chairs. With three minutes apiece to meet and make a connection, 42 TEA NextGen members and 21 TEA member companies attended this year’s spring TEA GibGab West. Participating companies are eager to meet new talent and provide feedback for TEA NextGen members looking to start their careers and lock down the fundamentals of interviewing. Despite the challenging nature of a two-hour non-stop interviewing marathon, demand for such information- and experience-rich events has soared, with this GibGab selling out in record time.

But eager planning wouldn’t be possible without great support. Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) hosted the event in the historic Grand Central Air Terminal building on their campus in Glendale, California. “GibGab is a terrific opportunity to target up-and-coming talent and to analyze how we are developing new talent throughout our own company,” said  Michael Jung, VP of WDI’s Theatrical Development. “I am always impressed with the caliber of talent, the diversity of skill and the thoughtful approach of the NextGen participants in GibGab. For me, it is always exciting to better understand the talent, perspective, and interests of the TEA NextGen community and to see how they view both the work itself and the world around them.” (A fun insider tip: the Grand Central Air Terminal has a public visitor center for those curious about the building’s storied history, accessible with an advance reservation.)

When it comes to having a conversation, a three-minute window may seem intimidating; but that doesn’t discourage TEA NextGen members like Jacob Surovsky. “​The GibGab is such an incredible opportunity for newcomers in the industry,​” he said. “Where else are you guaranteed three minutes of undivided attention from some of the industry's biggest players?​”

Article by Diane Buchwalder of 
The Hettema Group. Diane is TEA
NextGen Committee Board Member -
University Relations

While TEA Associate Producer Erica Schwehr, and TEA volunteer, Shay Willard, ran air traffic control for the interviewing segment, TEA NextGen Committee Member and TEA NextGen Associate Representative on the Western Division Board Morgane Keesling piloted the Q&A session through the topic of “Building Personal Brand & Career Momentum.” Panelists Adam Bezark (The Bezark Company), Emily Orcutt-Clenard (BRC Imagination Arts) and Jordan Coleman (WDI) discussed their experiences in the industry and their advice for beginning along that route. “​Hearing more about everyone's path into the industry, as well as the successes and challenges the panelists had faced on their projects, was hugely informative,” said ​TEA NextGen member Andrew Carey.​ “It helped me better understand what steps I can take to prepare myself for a career in themed entertainment.” 

In contrast to the brevity of the speed-interviews, the panel segment is a deeper dive into what expectations new professionals can have as they enter the industry. The panelists discussed what a project basis looks like and how it affects job movement, as well as how to stand out in the job search. “​It was definitely my favorite part of the event,” said NextGen Garrett Monteiro. TEA NextGen members also get a notable sense of the industry’s unique camaraderie through the panelists’ lively conversation with each other.

By the end of the evening, attendees were making the most of their new connectivity. “Going to GibGab allowed me to see the current diversity of the students taking an interest in our themed entertainment community; not just diversity of background, but a diversity of interest and aspirations,” said Lisa Maydwell of Adirondack Studios. “I was very pleased to meet aspiring designers, engineers, writers, creators, and makers of all kinds. GibGab was a wonderful showcase of up and coming talents that aren’t limiting themselves to tightly defined roles and job titles.”

TEA GibGab has expanded from an annual TEA event to bi-coastal occurrence every few months, and still continue to draw in attendees from around the country. For this particular occasion, TEA NextGen members flew in from Utah, Nevada, and even Georgia to meet with companies from around Southern California. For more information on future GibGab events or to get involved, contact TEA NextGen chair Marissa Blake of Shedd Aquarium, or follow the TEA Events listings.

Thanks to our host Walt Disney Imagineering for their facilities and refreshments. Additional thanks to all the participating TEA member companies and NextGens, and the TEA support team. 

Posted by Judy Rubin

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