Arts & Humanities
Bachelor of Science in Radio/Television/Film
Online Editorial Assistant
Dan Fields obtained a Bachelor of Science in Radio, Television and Film from Northwestern University in 2006. After he graduated, Fields shot and edited commercials and product review videos for Tennis Express, one of the largest tennis-specialty retail stores in the United States. Now he works as an online editorial assistant for Vacations To Go, and although he isn’t producing videos, he said he still uses his video production knowledge in his part-time job as a film critic.
Why did you choose your major?
I’ve always had an interest in the performing, visual, and theater arts, and at the end of my high school career I got more interested in contemporary arts, specifically film, and I decided I’d like to study that. The program I enrolled in offered a good balance of technical and practical training, as well as a lot of history and theory. I was really looking to specialize in a well-rounded way in one particular art form.
What did you like about the experience? What could have been better?
In a largely production-based program such as videography, film production, (or) even screenwriting and directing —(and) in all the related course work — they encouraged collaboration. (In the classes) you learned a lot of critical techniques including how to evaluate other peoples work, take criticism, and apply criticism in your own work. The collaboration gave you a personal stake in all of that, and the development of critical skills was a very important part of my education.
How has it impacted your career?
In my field, I think that at a certain level, despite the pressure on a lot of people to get master’s degrees and continuing education, having a solid undergraduate degree from a respected institution, depending on how high your ambitions are, (can be) all you need to get a decent job. If you have a bachelor’s [in videography] and a good GPA, and you’ve demonstrated that you’re competent, that’s going to serve you just as well as if you have a fancier degree.
What skills from your degree do you still use?
(In my work as a film critic) the writing and the critical theory classes provides a handy part-time job and a chance to build a body of written work. You want to be able to provide your skills in a way where you’re always building your body of work. Outside of my day job, I’m still producing original short films out of my home. Once you learn the working technical knowledge of how to put it together, organize a project, and see it through to the end, you can do it on your own.
What advice would you give prospective students?
I would say try to coordinate your regular academic schedule with internships in media and in a related field. If you’re into advertising, try it; if you’re in production, give that a shot. Don’t wait until you’re out [of school]. If at all possible, try to get a job or, if you can manage it, an internship with a relevant firm, even if it’s one day a week. It’s still important because you’re not going to be as grounded in the job market [without an internship] unless you’re incredibly lucky right out of school, compared to other people who have more reliable or more marketable degrees. You need to understand that you’re making a choice to be in the arts, and it’s a great choice if people are motivated, but understand that the breaks are few and far between, and you need to build up the best credentials possible as soon as you can.