6 Tips for MBAs Moving from the Entertainment Industry into the Corporate World

Updated: May 15

Making your skills work in your favour.


All the world may be a stage, but you must know your audience. Coming from an entertainment background, knowing what skills to play up or play down for your business audience is crucial to making the transition from entertainment to the corporate world. Below are 6 tips to provide insight on making your move.


1. Employ your ability to hustle


Everyone in the entertainment world knows how competitive the landscape is. If you want to get on Broadway, into Hollywood, Bollywood, TV, work as a comedian, ballerina, etc. then you must hustle. The corporate world is just the same, it is not good enough to have the required skills, you must knock on doors and network to be seen and make the right connections. Do not just look at online job ads, reach out to people on LinkedIn. If you do not have a LinkedIn account, start by setting one up. Next, look up companies you would like to work for, find people in positions in those companies you would like to work in and connect with them. Ask these new connections if they could spare 20 minutes for a short informative call so you may learn more about their company or their industry. Do this consistently and often.


Some example questions are:


· What challenges do you face in your role on a day to day basis?

· What parts of your job do you most enjoy?

· What challenges is the industry facing?

· I am interested in your industry, would you be able to recommend any publications that you have found useful/insightful?

2. Get rid of your acting resume, show-reel, and stage name


Although a stage name can help set you apart in the performing arts world, in the corporate sector people use their legal name in correspondence. Sterilise your email address, signature, LinkedIn account name, etc. to your legal name and save DJ Khailid for the nightclub.

Further, in the business world no one cares how many roles you had on Broadway or who you were opposite in your last commercial. They want to see if you can perform the role they need filling. Sending them your show reel or your acting resume will not showcase your ability to manage, for example, their newest client account. As a result, you will need to create a professional CV outlining your experience and achievements with the aim to highlight how your past is relevant to the role you are applying for.

This leads to tip #3.

3. Make a list of your transferable skills

If you are coming from the entertainment industry it is likely that you have transferable skills that a corporation will value. For example, if as the lead singer of your band you were also responsible for booking gigs across the country, your ability to arrange the transportation and setup/tear down highlights your logistics and project management skills.

If you created and distributed your band’s PR material, then you will probably be able to talk about marketing, communications, and social media skills. And your ability to make connections with venue managers and theaters across the country will be evidence of your networking and relationship management skills. Go through your experience and pull out activities you have done that show you can perform the role in the company that you are applying to. Be sure to explain what the activity and skill used achieved for you and your team, for example, revenue of 50,000 USD.

4. You are starting fresh, be flexible and let go of your ego


If you have been able to make a living in the entertainment sector, then you have probably spent several years working hard and “paying your dues”. The idea of starting all over again, from the bottom, may be a little bit scary. In my experience many big companies will be looking for someone with direct, relevant, industry related experience. There is a good chance you have the skills, but not the exact, direct experience. As a result, even though you handled your bands marketing for 10 years, you will probably not come into the company as the marketing manager, but rather as an associate or assistant. This can be frustrating as you know you can do the job. It may also be a blow to your ego, but the sooner you can get over this the better chance you will have of getting your foot in the door and starting the transition. Think of your first role outside of the entertainment industry as a stepping stone.

5. Utilise your soft skills

As entertainers we often have many soft skills that are hard to quantify, but are incredibly valuable. For example, the comedian's "thick skin", the dancer’s work-ethic, the singers’ vocal discipline and the actor’s ability to “put it on” once the lights go up, will all be useful in boosting your confidence and staying resilient when self-doubt inevitably kicks in.


6. Learn how to walk the walk


The way to boost your confidence and quiet any inner doubt is to educate yourself. I chose to pursue an MBA to better understand the corporate world and its language, but if that is not an option there are other ways to increase your knowledge. The Economist and Financial Times, are two great publications that discuss current events and the business world. Finimize is a great app that sends daily market news in short, digestible snippets. And if you’re interested in a specific industry, start researching what publications are the “thought leaders” in that industry and subscribe and consider attending their events. For example, in hospitality you might want to look at UK Hospitality or if you're interested in FinTech take a look at Fintech Weekly.

If you are coming from the entertainment sector, you most certainly have great skills and experiences that can be valuable to other industries, it is just a matter of how your package them and yourself. Take the time to reflect on what you bring to the table, connect with the relevant industry professionals, educate yourself, and you will be on your way.



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