The Promo Pathway to Success
Although more media outlets exist than ever, the greatest barrier to success in the entertainment industry remains getting that initial job. Since 2011, the 25 students selected each year for the Promo Pathway program at Santa Monica College (SMC) take an inside track to achieving their dreams. The 10-month program cultivates student creativity while teaching how to write, produce, and edit TV promotional spots.
“It’s an intensive program that builds those transferable skills—it allows students to enter the industry and thrive immediately,” says Steve Kazanjian, president and CEO of PromaxBDA, the global entertainment marketing association and SMC’s partner in the program.
Promo Pathway grew out of a desire to recruit underrepresented creative talent into the entertainment field. When PromaxBDA —and the South Bay Center for Counseling, a former partner—sought a college to provide the training, they found a perfect match in SMC.
“Companies are looking for inclusion,” Kazanjian notes, “because viewers are so diverse that you need diversity of thought to drive real returns on investment.”
At SMC, students can pursue a “promo” certificate with transferable units, as well as an Associate Degree in Entertainment Promotion and Marketing Production. SMC is the first community college in the nation to offer this degree.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I am now if not for SMC…its resources and network helped me on my career path.”
– Antonio Benitez, Writer/Producer at Lifetime Network
According to SMC Interim Dean of Career Education Frank Dawson, SMC is “getting increasing numbers of applications from students with bachelor’s degrees, who come here to get the kind of relationships and training they need to land a job.”
Antonio Benitez is one such example. After serving in the U.S. Marines, he attended SMC, then transferred to California State University, Dominguez Hills, to earn a bachelor’s degree in digital media arts. Still, he struggled to find work in the field he loved.
He was working at Fox as a promotional spot scheduler when he heard about Promo Pathway. He applied, and was selected as one of the first 25 for the program.
After he completed his Promo Pathway certificate, Benitez interned at Lifetime TV, and is currently a writer/producer for online marketing at Lifetime. “I wouldn’t be in the position I am now if not for SMC,” he says. “Its resources and network helped me on my career path.”
For Chris Alford, who completed the program in 2015, Promo Pathway led to work at NBC Universal as a video apprentice for the entertainment and marketing department. He had previously studied film and graphic design, and concurs with Benitez—that he would not have been considered for this opportunity—if not for the SMC program. “Promo Pathway just seemed like a perfect integration of all the things I love,” he says.
Originally from Russia, Irina Murasheva moved to Los Angeles with bachelor’s degrees in law and language translation, but no set career goal. Promo Pathway “really opened my horizons,” she says. “There are so many opportunities in this industry, and I’m sure the skills the program gave us will be transferable to whatever career I choose.” She is currently interning at Vox Pop Films, which produces documentaries and commercials.
For more information about the Promo Pathway program, visit smc.edu/promo or call (310) 434-4182.
(A longer version of this article ran in the Feb. 9, 2016 issue of SMC in Focus)