CLOSE-UP: Recording Connection
By Karen Orsi
Curly in City Slickers said that the secret to happiness in life is based on one thing alone. Jim Petulla, founder of Entertainment Connection has made it his "one thing" to solve the infamous Catch-22 dilemma about dreams and careers–that you can't get a job without experience and you can't get experience until you get the job. "We recognize that it's who you know that counts," he says.
This is the basis for Petulla's Entertainment Connection–a company that claims to help anyone get a job in almost any profession without formal training. Petulla's angle is the externship approach, made popular during the Renaissance, in which an extern begins working at a trade alongside a craftsman until he learns it well enough to make it his own. Entertainment Connection has utilized this approach in placing over 5,000 beginners in some of the hottest and most competitive career fields, such as audio recording/engineering, video, film and journalism. For a fee, Entertainment Connection can get you the crucial interview for your dream gig. But they also show you how to do it on your own.
"We've got a video that we offer," Petulla says. "It's all about getting people to understand and change their way of thinking. We've been primarily sticking with the entertainment-related careers because our approach has been most beneficial with the hard-to-get-into careers such as radio, TV, music and film. What we're doing with the video is literally walking people through the process step-by-step, including how they can do this on their own without us. The angle is that if you want to do it and have the money, we're here to help you. But if you don't have the money and you can't afford it, we share with them how to do it on their own."
So what is the big secret? How do you get your dream job? The key is that you've got to be very focused on what you do. "If you really want it in your heart," Petulla says, "you can do it. It's funny because when I hook up an interview with a potential mentor, be it at a studio or wherever, there are only two questions they have about a potential extern. The first one is, let's be sure that the person is not a kook, a jerk or a crazy. And the second one is, do they really want it. The secret is that people love to teach what they know and love to teach somebody who is hungry and eager to learn.
"The benefit of having the folks at Entertainment Connection help you is obviously that we can make sure that it gets done. We write them a check every time they give you an assignment, and we also offer the mentor a bonus if they choose to hire a student."
Petulla has found a market in the growing phenomena that a college degree–even a degree from a conservatory or trade school doesn't guarantee a person a job. In fact, as he has found, some of those who are teaching "the business" in trade schools and colleges are doing so because they've failed in those fields. Entertainment Connection is based on the ideal that the great teachers–and conducive, practical learning environments–are to be found in the real world, right where the work happens.
"When I was making the video it occurred to me that I'm not telling anyone anything new. And when I explain to people how to do it on their own, it boils down to being focused on what you want and finding a correspondence course on what you want to get into, and if you can't find one, at least gather as much relevant information on the subject as you can. You can go to your local public library and get lots of information, and the government has a slew of correspondence courses that are free also. This is where you gather information that will impress your mentor, then we tell you how to find a mentor."
Petulla feels that if you are motivated to follow these steps, you have the kind of motivation you need to succeed. Entertainment Connection is constantly being flooded with new business contacts on a daily basis–so there is a constant stream of opportunities at hand for his clients, as well as plenty of evidence that the externship concept is welcome one in the business world. CC's internet site is also flooded with inquiries for externs from countries around the world. "I've got people in studios in Australia and New Zealand, and suddenly we're really big in Canada. The ultimate thing that we're trying to do is to get the word out that this method works."
For those who cannot pay a fee to Entertainment Connection, Petulla asks them to pledge a month's future dream career salary toward a charitable fund he sponsors to support industry legends that have fallen on hard times in later years.
"I think people need to have a dream profession and I want to help them get into it anyway I can. I can offer ideas or services. It's the Nineties and a different world. It's not about working for the same company for years and having the security, the benefits and the dental plan. Those days are over with. We get programmed that we just cannot do things on our own and we have to go down the prescribed roads. It's just not the case anymore.