Jen Turriff

2011 Film Alumna

  • Program: Film
  • Employer: Owner of The Local Petaler
  • Position: Business Owner

Jen’s Story

Jen is a 2011 Film graduate who is currently Owner of The Local Petaler. We asked Jen a few questions and here’s what she had to say!

What do you like most about working at The Local Petaler?

I’m my own boss! I’m responsible for my success, or my own failure, and that’s pretty thrilling. I love my clients; I love being part of some special moment in their lives.

What advice do you have for TFC candidates currently and actively job searching?

Don’t limit yourself. When I graduated I had this false sense of confidence that my dream job was right around the corner – it’s just not the case. You have to work for that dream job, and it’s certainly never your first job. It takes time, effort, networking and making connections, etc. So take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, but be sure you don’t take those first job or jobs for granted. It’s there that you’ll learn and grow enough to be qualified for that really special job down the line. So work hard and focus on what’s happening now, not what could happen later.

How did your experience at TFC help you secure your current role?

Hmm… how did my experience at TFC help me become a florist? I’d have to say not much at all! But it definitely helped me become a business owner. As a producing student, I was taught that producers run the show! That’s what I loved – having a hand in all aspects of the production, from start to finish. And the same is true for owning my own business. I did all the same work: writing a business plan, budgeting, seeking financing, hiring, etc. What’s great about producing is that you’re part creative and part businessperson. And even though I’m in a very different industry, I’m essentially a producer.

What would you look for if you were in the position to hire new graduates from TFC?

I’m probably not on their list of places to apply to! But I will say that all the success that I had in years past in film/tv industry was because I followed through whether it was with my application or letter or phone call. Sending an actual letter in the mail is huge! But keep it short and don’t include any of your work. They need to ask you for it.

I made contact with an agent in LA by mailing a letter. It was short: just an introduction to who I am, what I’ve done, and what I want to do. End it by asking how they can help you.

I followed up my letter with a phone call a week later and within an hour, I got an email from the agent asking for samples of my work. Don’t be afraid to go old school!

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

EVERYTHING. I wish I had been older and had more life experience before my time at TFC. To be on such a fast-track, I needed to have the maturity to really appreciate every job that came my way and to make every connection possible. I had an internship with Second City around the time that I graduated, where I worked with people like Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong, and I was such an idiot thinking I shouldn’t talk to them or “friend” them on Facebook, and now they’re literally ALL on SNL. So five years later when I have a huge packet of comedy writing, I can’t send it to the 25 writers I know in New York. Don’t be an idiot – send that friend request.

What was your favorite thing about TFC?

My mentors… I had several teachers who were incredibly impactful in my life. I was going through a lot while I was in school, trying to figure out who I was and where I fit in in the world… you know, the usual… and I needed guidance. I’m so grateful that I met Peter and Amy and Killian at that time in my life. (Sincere thank you to you all!)

What was your least favorite thing about TFC?

Anything petty or stupid that got in the way. You really don’t have time for that. Don’t get caught up in anything that prevents you from being your best professional self.

Name one thing that made you choose TFC over other colleges?

I chose TFC because it was a fast-track to the industry. It didn’t waste time with BS classes that you are required to take at a 4-year university. I had come from two years at the University of Illinois where I was taking classes like “Geology 101” and “The History of Graffiti.” Trust me, they’re not interesting as they sound, and I’m definitely not applying what I learned to daily life.

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