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Wed, Oct 12, 2011

Talent Strategies

Mario Batali’s New Media Production Coordinator Shares Career Advice

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When world-renowned chef and restauranteur Mario Batali needed to hire the perfect media production coordinator, he turned to Monster.com for assistance. And the Monster.com post for this dream job on Batali’s media team attracted more than a million job views and garnered nearly 50,000 resumes in just 55 days.

Using Monster’s award-winning 6Sense search technology, Batali and his team then identified top candidates, and, through interviews and other challenges, identified their “needle in a haystack” — New York’s Drea Bernardi.

“When I met Drea, I realized she was such a good fit that it’s almost as if the job description was written just for her,” said Batali, referring to the position that called for a candidate who wanted to break into new media; had a shared passion for food, wine, and travel; and spoke Italian.

We spoke to Bernardi about her application experience and her advice for other job seekers.

Follow Your Passion

Bernardi’s passion for media production was ignited during a few years that she spent working as an actor (and a waitress — she says the two often go hand in hand) and thereby learning what goes on behind the camera.

“On set, often in low-budget productions, I got to see how exciting it was to be behind the camera, and all the ways in which media production has allowed amateurs to become pros,” says Bernardi. “The barriers to entry have been removed with the advent of social media; anyone with smart content can become their own publishers of that content today. It’s really exciting.”

After returning to school to study mass media, Drea started producing her own work: “My first video was for the Web — a healthy-cooking Web video. With a little budget and a lot of creativity, you can create your own content.”

And this highlights an important lesson Bernardi has for job seekers: She didn’t wait for a job offer before she started following her passion and working (and learning) in her career.

“I was creating my own work, taking internships — I wasn’t getting paid a lot of the time,” she explains. “But I was doing the things I wanted to do, making up my own jobs — and all these things went onto my resume.”

Bernardi adds that this tactic is especially true in her field, media production, saying that people wanting to follow in her footsteps can rent equipment, volunteer at public or community television stations, and find other ways to pursue their dreams. “Video on the web — it’s thrilling,” she says.

Then Came the Dream Job
“When I saw Mario’s video on Monster.com, I thought, ‘It’s perfect,’” says Bernardi. “It’s a position just for me — all of my passions rolled into one.”

Having lived in Italy, she felt a great affinity for the Italian way of life: “Family and food are at the center of the best way of living,” she says.

But Bernardi assumed her initial application was a “shot in the dark.” She explains:

“When I saw the video, I didn’t think I had a chance. I thought so many people were going to apply for it. I didn’t know Monster had this wonderful technology that would uncover the best matched resumes. So at first, I just sent it out there and hoped; then there were several more rounds where I got to go back and tweak things and highlight things relevant to the job.”

She says that going in with initially low expectations prevented feelings of nervousness: “I didn’t think I was going to get near Mario or his team, which was kind of a relief — when you’re dealing with a celebrity, it can be so intimidating.”

But the further Bernardi got in the process, the less frightening that notion became. She says, “The whole way, at each level, I had a lot of support from the recruitment group, and as I got closer to Mario and his team, I could see that they had a lot of fun, so that made it less intimidating.”

Here, she offers another piece of helpful advice for job seekers: Reach out to your contacts when you’re doing your research to prepare for an interview.

“I’m fortunate to live in New York, and I had done an internship with Martha Stewart. So I emailed my contact there to get a vibe for Mario — and I got some great feedback that gave me confidence. As long as I put my best foot forward, I knew there was nothing to be afraid of.”

“Prepare, Prepare, and Prepare Some More”

Bernardi’s other advice for job seekers is to “stay positive and really go for it.” She says, “After I made the first cut, I had the sense that this was my job. I did a lot of thinking, ‘This is my job. I’m so grateful that I’ll be working with Mario Batali,’ and things like that.”

And Bernardi says that staying positive during the application process was extremely helpful when she faced challenges and was asked to do things she hadn’t done before — for instance, preparing a sizzle reel.

The other thing she did to succeed? “Prepare, prepare, and prepare some more.”

She says,

“For my interview, I went online and Googled interview questions, and I found so much information. I answered every single possible interview question and did a lot of writing. When I got to my interview, of course they didn’t ask the questions I’d prepared for, but all my ideas and answers were already thought out. I had prepared to talk about examples from my short career. All the information was right there, so it made me confident that I was going to have the right answer.”

Dream Jobs Are Out There
When Monster spoke to Bernardi, her first day of work at her dream job was just a couple of days away. “This is like a fairy tale,” she says. “It shows you can actually do hard work and get noticed.”

But that just shows that fairy tales don’t come true without a committed attitude – in fact, Bernardi is already doing work that will set her up to succeed on her first day on the job.

“Basically, I’ve been prioritizing what are the most important things to get done right away,” she says. “It’s a new role … so I’ve been doing a lot of research so I can walk in Monday with an agenda — so I can walk in the door and just do it.”

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