Coming from a musical family, 2023 Columbia College Chicago Marketing (with a concentration in Entertainment Marketing) graduate Makenna Ryan could say that she was born into the industry. Many of her earliest memories centered around getting a peek at the behind-the-scenes interactions that would lead her down the path of a music industry career. “I grew up around music with my dad being in a band. As a kid, being around music rehearsals and live shows was so infatuating to me, which is why I knew that the music industry was the career path I wanted to go down.”
Years before attending Hamburg High School in Buffalo, New York, Makenna found inspiration through an artist that is arguably now the biggest pop star in the world. “I went to my first ever concert at 9- years old when I saw Taylor Swift. Growing up admiring an artist like Taylor has definitely taught me the importance of storytelling and fan engagement. The whole stigma around being a ‘fangirl’ has made a huge impact on the music industry, since the fans are ultimately the ones who build an artist up.”
As high school turned into college, Makenna realized that marketing, and more specifically entertainment marketing, was the route to go. “After the Covid-19 pandemic, I knew that I was lacking opportunity at the school I was currently enrolled in. I began researching schools that offered arts/entertainment industry courses, which is how I stumbled across Columbia. With marketing being one of the majors offered, what immediately caught my eye was the fact that students could choose a concentration for their major.”
After taking courses such as Brands & Branding, Law for Creative Industries, Marketing & Branding Yourself, and Business of Music, as well as partaking in a marketing internship at legendary Chicago music venue Sleeping Village, Makenna set her sights on the Semester in LA program (SILA), that Columbia offers. Before applying, Makenna did the necessary prep work to have her application stand out to enhance the possibility of being accepted into the program. “I knew that this program would be a jumpstart to my career if I got in, which is why I did everything I could to tailor my application to its best potential. Additionally, I knew that this program would benefit my networking skills immensely – as a past mentor once told me that LA is the home-base for getting your foot in the door.”
Once accepted, Makenna made the most of the opportunities presented. She secured an internship with Next Step Talent, and utilized networking to connect with Columbia alumni who work within the entertainment industry.
At Makenna’s internship, she made herself indispensable. Going the extra mile was a given, and that hustle led to a full-time job as Digital Partnerships & Training Coordinator at Next Step Talent. Her position has a litany of responsibilities including maintaining partnerships through social media,
overseeing the Snapchat Show division of the company, and A&R tasks,
Makenna’s position brings her a great deal of enjoyment and confidence in her abilities, and has led to immediate career growth. In the new year she will be moving to New York where she will be at the helm of the New York office.
As Makenna continues to build her skill set as well as industry relations, she had this advice for students. “Whether you’re a freshman or senior, don’t be afraid to explore as many career opportunities as possible. When I began college, I never saw myself living in two major cities throughout my education – thankfully, Columbia gave me this opportunity. I would recommend messaging alumni on LinkedIn. Set up a time to chat virtually/in-person depending on where you are and ask questions. Ask about their journeys, the position itself, and any resources that they propose to you. Also, take advantage of the Career Center! They are there to help you tailor your resume/portfolio to your chosen career and internship opportunities that are guaranteed to contribute to your growth. Ambition is key!”