SVA First Person: Student Jake Kaplan on the Nickelodeon Writing Workshop

December 1, 2015

Kaplan, a BFA Animation student, wrote about his experience for SVA Close Up.

SVA Career Development recently hosted a Writing Workshop by Nickelodeon Talent Outreach—yes, the Nickelodeon! I was fortunate to be one of the students in attendance for this opportunity. From the name of the event, one might assume we would solely be focusing on how to write, but the workshop was much more than that. The first thing I noticed about the crowd in the room was that it was an eclectic bunch, from first-year students to alumni, representing majors from film to animation to illustration.

karen735My attention quickly turned to the person who would be leading the workshop, Karen Kirkland (VP, Talent Development & Outreach). Karen’s joy and optimism lit up the room. She started off by telling us how past SVA students have gone on to successful careers at Nickelodeon and shared the famous words, “Success is what occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” She then discussed the amazing opportunities at Nickelodeon, including the Nickelodeon Writing Program, Artists Program, Global Shorts Program and the Script First Program.

Next, Karen invited us to practice pitching ourselves to potential employers. All attendees had to give a two- to three-minute mock-interview introduction that included who they were, why they wanted to be in this industry and what made them unique. I was so nervous to go up and share my story, but after I got started, getting to tell everyone about my dreams and life path was actually really exciting. Karen gave us valuable feedback about our pitches that I cannot wait to put to use the next time I have the opportunity.

class735After that, we got a real treat: the chance to experience what it’s like to work in an actual writer’s room. Karen gave us a writing sample for an episode of a show currently on the air. In our separate groups, we discussed which parts of the story were working and which needed help. It was enlightening to get a taste for how discussions and even disagreements are approached and settled when working on a project as a team.

Finally, Karen ended with a Q&A session and reminded us, “In order to get something, you have to ask for it!” and, “Assume nothing.” To call Nickelodeon’s Writing Workshop inspirational would be an understatement. I cannot wait to take all the tips from this workshop, as well as everything SVA has taught me over the past three years, and use them to make my dreams come true.


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