Relying on communication skills he learned while competing with Webster’s Forensics and Debate Team, Ryan Louis (BA, Film Production, Public Relations minor, 2003) turned his post-graduation internship at MTV into a 5-year career. SCAN recently caught up with Louis to talk about his current position at MTVN International in New York.
SCAN: How did you come to work at MTV?
RL: My name and a résumé was passed around among professional friends and eventually found its way to a man at MTV Promos. I got an internship there the summer after I graduated, worked my butt off and was rewarded with a job when it ended three months later.
SCAN: What was it like when you started there?
RL: I worked in “client services coordination.” Really, that’s just fancy talk for “get these people lunch” and “order these people supplies.” I worked with some really great people who offered as much as they could to help me develop my skills — and extend my contacts. It was nice being from the Midwest amidst a bunch of New Yorkers. They looked at me a bit differently, as if I was nicer — I think it gave me a definitive edge, believe it or not.
SCAN: You’ve since moved on to MTVN International. Describe a typical day there.
RL: I coordinate VH1 and MTV News meaning I support all the programmers internationally who are looking for either VH1 shows or MTV news footage, concerts and interviews. I’m the guy who finds how to get all the programming materials (show, graphics, promos, legal and music info) to the channels. So, if VH1 Poland wants an episode of “Hogan Knows Best,” I go, find it, get it ready and deliver it. If MTV Canada needs a Beyonce interview done in Tokyo or Sao Paulo, I coordinate that too.
SCAN: So what’s the coolest experience you’ve had working there so far?
RL: This past April I went to LA to work the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. I got to walk on the Orange Carpet and see a stuntman jump several stories into a giant tub of slime. We had 11 countries represented there and I got to see and interview some Nick TV personalities and animators.
SCAN: What’s the most challenging part about working at MTVN International?
RL: I love competition, don’t get me wrong, but in order to stay competitive there’s a lot of extra work. There’s new technology to learn (HD is a nightmare — especially when you try to take it to the world!). Also, I’m currently attending school to get my Master’s … so I’ve got my plate pretty full.
SCAN: What has this job taught you about your chosen field and about yourself?
RL: I’ve learned how to be resourceful, how to network, how to be rewarded for being myself. This industry requires a lot of re-facing — and even though I’ve changed a lot, I like to think I’ve kept my disposition … even if I DO say the word ‘coffee’ like ‘kwaw-fee.’
SCAN: What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow a similar career path?
RL: I have two pieces of advice, actually: First, intern like crazy! Make connections, be super-nice and do anything they ask you to do with that Midwestern smile you know is deep down inside you. Second, take a speech class. Webster has a world-class speech communications program. You have to have strong communication skills both orally and on paper in order to do ANYTHING in this world! If you don’t know how to persuade or interact with people in an effective and appropriate way, then you will find yourself very frustrated … very fast.
SCAN: Complete the following: “In 10 years I’d like to be …”
RL: Senior Director of anything, if I’m still in New York, anyway. I would also like to become a college professor — become a student of life. The last ten years since high school (10 year reunion in a year and a half!) have been crazy in terms of life experiences — and it’s all on the old résumé. I know that I will just keep opening doors of friendships and windows of opportunity. As long as things look open, I’ll never stop.