Each year, thousands of new grads apply for the NBCUniversal Page Program with big dreams of starting a career in media. There’s arguably no better place to get your foot in the door. So like any TV obsessed comm major with at least two internships under her belt, I applied for the NY Spring 2018 cohort.
I made it all the way to panel before getting rejected. Here’s how it went down.
The Interview Process
The NBCU Page Program interview process consists of three parts:
- Application and essays
- Recorded Interview
- Panel at NBCUniversal HQ
The application involves several written essays. These are pretty straightforward and your responses don’t have to be fully researched, APA format, 12-page essays. I answered the questions as thoroughly as possible but kept it concise. I’ve heard that the application will time you out and you’ll lose your progress if you spend too much time writing the essays so it may be best to write them in a Google doc and paste them all at once. I didn’t have this issue myself but I wrote mine quickly.
The Recorded Interview
Then a few weeks will go by and you will either receive an early rejection or a link to record your first “interview.” This is sort of like a skype interview, but instead of a person on the other end, you are simply given text prompts and have to answer in a recorded video.
I dressed professionally and made sure I was in a very well lit room. I used my studio lights but didn’t go beyond the standard webcam and mic on my MacBook. I kicked all my family members out of my house and highly suggest you do this too! You need to minimize the risk of interruptions as much as possible.
You will see a text prompt for 15-30 seconds, and then directly after you will be recorded and asked to give your response. You only have 30 seconds to answer each question and THERE ARE NO DO-OVERS***! I’ve read in some other blogs that there is an option to re-do your entire interview but I was not given that option. You can take breaks in between questions however to compose yourself. I didn’t do this, though, as I found it easier to get it done all at once. There are also a few timed written questions as well. Make sure you’re a fast typer and can think quick on your feet.
***So this is not guaranteed by any means, but I did hear about one candidate who accidentally swore in his interview, called tech support, begged for a redo, and got one. But don’t expect this for yourself!
If they like your responses, you will be invited to Panel in New York at NBCU’s headquarters. They’ll ask you which dates are most convenient for you, which is nice considering they do not reimburse for travel or accommodation, as far as I know.
Panel consists of a 2-minute speech, a group interview, and an individual interview. Here is where I started to make mistakes
1. I flubbed part of my 2-minute presentation
I had been practicing my speech non-stop for 48 hours from the time I received my prompt to the moment I walked through the doors of 30 Rock. But I am terrible with nerves. Even performing on stage for four years as an actor didn’t prepare me for how nervous I was during my presentation. I forgot a word during my presentation and it was pretty obvious.
The candidates from my panel that made it into the program had extremely polished 2-minute presentations. Some even bordered on being more of a monologue. I think this is what they have in mind when they ask for a “strong executive presence.” There isn’t room to be awkward or too relaxed.
2. I was too conversational during my one-on-one interview
In the past, I’ve had a lot of success leaning into interviews with a super relaxed mindset, speaking to the interviewer like they were a friend. I have no idea if this actually set me back, of course, no one has pointed to this specifically as my downfall. But my relaxed attitude wasn’t receiving a lot of obviously positive feedback during my interview like it typically would. I would advise keeping as professional of an air as possible.
3. I didn’t boast enough about my accomplishments during the group-interview
I think part of this was that I truly didn’t have as many leadership experiences as the other panellists, but I also found it really difficult to talk up the experiences I did have in a room full of other potentials. This is simply not my personality at all. Often, I’ll even try and downplay myself whenever I have to compare myself to others. If you’re at all like this, stop it. Brag about yourself. Just do it and don’t feel bad. Even if you turn bright red talking about your experiences, just do it. If you don’t have this problem, don’t even worry about reeling it in. I promise you that no one else will be.
4. I didn’t talk enough about my unique experiences
This is less of a what-went-wrong and more of a I-regret-not-saying-this sort of thing. My passion in media largely falls on diverse stories and giving a platform to those who have frequently been dismissed in media. My goals include telling stories of Southeast Asians (and honestly just having more Asian representation in general!) and those designated working class, as those are two groups I identify with but have not seen much in media. I never felt like there was an appropriate moment to bring it up, so I didn’t. But I really regret it. If you feel like there is something that makes you different and vital to the future of media, put it out there!
My rejection email came about a week after my panel. I applied again just to see if maybe I could get a second chance but I wasn’t even moved to the recorded interview round this time. So I’m thinking this is it for me and the NBCU Page Program but definitely not the end of my career in media! Careers in media are rife with rejection, and it’s best to reflect on them, learn from them, but to not let them get the best of you.
Anyway, back to the job boards!