Posted on Oct 17, 2018 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News
The KU School of Journalism and Mass Communications invited alumni back to its Home on the Hill for J-School Generations, a two-day homecoming event.
One of the highlights was J-Talk, a TED-talk style event featuring alumni sharing stories of lessons they’ve learned through their careers.
Carlos P. Beltran, c’09, j’09, discussed his experiences as a digital content producer, both as a freelancer and for NBC Left Field, a documentary unit that profiles human-interest stories such as a KU alumnus’ classroom museum.
We sat down with Beltran to ask him more about his time at KU and his advice on choosing what to do after graduation.
When did you know what you wanted to do your career?
Ever since I was a child running around with a camera I knew I wanted to do something with video. It wasn’t until my second year at KU that I switched to journalism and decided to do it for a living.
As for what kind of video, it wasn’t until 2013, when I finished a fiction project that took two years of my life and it didn’t pan out the way I wanted. I decided I didn’t need fancy equipment and huge crews. I knew that with a camera, a microphone, a great subject, and my editing skills, I could make good work, and I dedicated myself to documentary filmmaking.
How did you get involved with such a cool production like NBC Left Field?
The unit opened a year and a half ago in Brooklyn, and after freelancing in Venezuela for a couple years I was looking for somewhere to settle down. My good friend Mariana Keller, who works at NBC News Digital told me about the opening, and after sitting down with the leader of the unit they liked my work enough to bring me on.
How did your time at KU help you get to where you are now?
I learned everything from ethics, to how to approach networks with my work, the basics of narrative and storytelling, and of course editing over at Dole, spending days editing on Final Cut Pro 7 in the media labs. Here you’ll learn how to be a great journalist, out there, you practice being one. Once you leave, don’t think you’ll get the perfect job right off the bat. You’ll go through times where you’ll discover what you don’t like to do. It might take years, it took me from graduation in 2009 to 2013 when I realized what I really wanted to do.
What advice do you have for those starting out in their careers?
When I graduated from school, I thought I wanted to work at an ad agency, or work in video, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I immediately thought I maybe should go get my masters, but I never did. Someone told me “if you want to be a documentary filmmaker, go make documentaries.” Go make one, and then you’ll have a business card. If you want to work in this industry, don’t wait until someone commissions you. If you find an amazing character, then shoot the story. That two minute video that you produced independently shows your skills and that you’re passionate about your work. Go shoot something, make yourself a portfolio.