Our small, removed village of Hamilton, New York is thousands of miles away from the booming entertainment industry across the country in California, and it can often feel even further for the Colgate students interested in finding the hidden path to Hollywood. On April 1, ALANA Cultural Center welcomed back alumni Jill Shimmel ’88 and Jon Glickstein ’92 to show current students that there are endless routes to their dreams and available resources to propel them there.
Neither of the sibling alumni initially expected to go into entertainment upon their arrival at Colgate, but they instead discovered how to integrate their diverse passions into a career in the entertainment industry throughout their undergraduate years. Glickstein is in the music business in a strategic partnership role at Live Nation Entertainment. Shimmel is an independent consultant to various advertising agencies, advising clients on marketing, entertainment and intellectual property issues. She emphasized the determination required to be successful in this industry, especially at the beginning of one’s career.
Glickstein and Shimmel both lauded Colgate for its liberal arts emphasis, asserting that the sundry classes they explored from different departments exposed them to a unique pool of knowledge that helped them in unexpected ways in their careers.
“Jon particularly highly regarded the faculty in the sociology, religion and philosophy departments. These professors have taught him how to think and reason differently, present arguments and, at the same time, allowed him to understand different perspectives, how to develop relationships and work with other people — all of these aspects led him to his role today,” Director of ALANA Esther Rosbrook said.
Shimmel mentioned that the “Living Writers” course (still offered at Colgate in the English Department) first introduced her to the entertainment industry by enabling her to come into contact with authors behind pivotal works of literature. She recounted that other English courses, such as “The Novel,” were instrumental in expanding her way of thinking. Both Shimmel and Glickstein agreed that the exposure to many disciplines and departments helped them broaden their horizons enough to ultimately pick their own direction confidently, even if it was unorthodox.
They also advised that students use the Colgate alumni network to their advantage by building up experience and knowledge about a field and contacting alumni through the robust directory for advice and opportunities.
“These sorts of talks really inspire me to think of any people in my network that I can have a conversation with about my future career goals. I would encourage all Colgate students to just talk to professors more — they have so much knowledge to give,” junior and attendee Florence Almquist Checa said. “Furthermore, Jon talked about the Colgate Link which is a resource I will definitely be utilizing, as well as reaching out to alumni on Linkedin. Going to these talks really reminds me that I need to implement career search and conversation in my week, that it shouldn’t be left for the last few months before I graduate.”
In addition to harnessing connections from our close-knit community of past and present students, Glickstein brought up the importance of self-education using the resources and intellectual tools provided by Colgate to impress employers and influential alums in the business.
“I think there is a degree that what they said was comforting in that college is not the single most important part of going into entertainment, that a lot is self-taught and self-driven, which feels almost validating — the confidence to do it on your own,” junior Elizabeth Svach said.
The siblings emphasized that finding opportunities to gain experience through organizing concerts, reaching out to people in the community or building a personal portfolio outside of required classes not only makes students more equipped to take on their dream job but convinces alumni that he or she is worthy of recommendation.
Through Shimmel and Glickstein’s discussion of their own experiences navigating Colgate and journeying to Hollywood, the daunting path to the entertainment industry became less elusive for students in attendance. Their advice to take diverse classes, use the alumni network and self-educate about personal interests provided students with clear-cut first steps into their future.