14 December 2015

GibGab at TEA SATE 2015 helps young talent connect with themed entertainment industry

First-ever GibGab at TEA SATE Puts NextGen on the Clock - Report by Aimee Roy of BaAM Productions

The 2015 SATE conference of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), hosted at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, culminated with a special opportunity for 32 TEA NextGen members who were able to interview for their dream jobs following two days of thought-provoking presentations and conversations with today’s leaders in themed entertainment. It took the form of a special speed-networking session on Sept 19, called TEA GibGab. Read more about SATE '15 and TEA's annual SATE conference on Experience Design.

While this was the first time GibGab took place in connection with SATE, TEA GibGab events have seen great success hosted by various companies in the TEA Eastern and Western North American Divisions. NextGen members are divided into two groups so that one section can attend a Q&A panel while the other engages in a series of 3-minute interviews with the participating companies. The groups switch places and the process repeats. 

This GibGab session kicked off with a welcoming address from Bill Bunting, who is Director, Business Development of presenting

Bill Bunting, Oceaneering

sponsor Oceaneering Entertainment Systems. He greeted all participants and welcomed them to the themed entertainment family while also talking about the industry as a whole; answering questions like, “Where do projects come from?” and, “What’s the state of the industry today?”  It was a positive and motivating message that closed by asking NextGen members, “What will you help to create?” With that, groups were divided and the speed-networking was underway.  Right away it was easy to see that both NextGens AND member companies had carefully prepared in advance... 

So how do you make the most of a 3-minute pitch? 

On the interviewee side:

Clara Rice – Director, Digital Engagement & Media Relations at Jack Rouse Associates and then TEA NextGen Committee Chair (Rice has just been succeeded by Arielle Rassel) has advised NextGen members that when faced with a 3-minute limit to showcase themselves, they should focus more on personality and less on portfolio. She indicated that companies ultimately want to be sure that a candidate will be a good fit for them, someone that they can picture working alongside on projects in the future.

Clara Rice, past NextGen chair

Many NextGen participants heeded her advice and developed some best practices of their own. Clarice Phillips – a student attending University of Tennessee, Knoxville – studied each company in advance not only to learn more about their work and projects, but also to find a link between her goals and the company’s. This increased her chances of making a connection within the allotted 3 minutes per interview. 

While on break midway through his 17 interviews, Vivek Sangubhotla – a graduate student at the Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University – commented that he was having different types of conversations with each company but made sure to cover the same 4 points: “Who I am. Where I’m from. What’s my background. And what I can offer.”

Meanwhile, former Savannah College of Art and Design student Ruzanna Rozman’s goal was to share what she has accomplished and achieved up to this point as a graphic designer but

convey that she is ultimately beyond the products that she makes – able to apply her skills,

Dave Cooperstein, PGAV

experience, and creative thinking to a variety of applications and projects, a common prerequisite for anyone working in such a diverse and constantly evolving industry like that of themed entertainment.

On the interviewer side:

Companies sitting on the other side of the interview table had to be just as prepared as the students.

Dave Cooperstein of PGAV Destinations read through the profiles of the NextGen participants in advance of the event. He even forwarded a few of the profiles to colleagues to see if they might be a good fit for project teams. However, once the interviews began, he realized that there were a number

New TEA NextGen chair Arielle Rassel

of "hidden gems" that shone through during the brief conversations – exemplifying the value of the kind of one-on-one, in-person connections made possible by a TEA GibGab event, and the importance of presenting oneself well. 

Cooperstein also had some advice to share for students, “Be specific and don’t be humble. While the three minutes goes by quickly, certain things like being articulate and confident are easy to identify.”

Like other participating companies, PGAV’s objective was to identify the best of the best in new talent and meet them to determine which potential new hires could be a good match for their organization. “Whenever we look to hire someone, we want to make sure that they not only have the skills and talents for any immediate needs,” said Cooperstein, “but also that

Article author Aimee Roy

they will be successful at PGAV Destinations a year, 5 years and 10 years from now.” His optimism was evident when he confirmed that those goals were achieved at GibGab.

The energy in the room, positive feedback, and excited faces on both sides of the table proved how events like GibGab can meet the needs across the spectrum of TEA members. GibGab and the SATE Conference provided the perfect conditions to make the most of the potential synergy, to help create meaningful connections between established companies and new talent trying to break into themed entertainment – bridging any perceived gaps and putting companies face-to-face with the future storytellers who will continue to shape and change the industry.

See many more photos from TEA SATE '15 GibGab on TEA's Facebook album.

Posted by Judith Rubin



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