Students spend Christmas break studying in Tenn.
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 23:01
While many students spent winter break at home working or catching up on much-needed rest, a group of University of Southern Mississippi students from the entertainment industry department spent a week in Nashville, Tenn. experiencing the music scene, making contacts in the music business and earning class credit.
Despite giving up a week of their break from classes, students in attendance said they gained hands-on experience that will translate to their future careers.
For senior entertainment industry (production) major Josh Sullivan, making contacts in Music City was one of the most enjoyable aspects.
“Networking is never a guaranteed thing, so how much a student gets out of it is up to them,” Sullivan said. “Everywhere we went, I was shaking hands, introducing myself and just trying to make connections.”
To Sullivan, the trip was invaluable.
“You never know when you’re going to show up in their office several years down the road, and they’ll remember you from that one class trip,” Sullivan said.
The idea for a trek to Nashville came from Drew Young, a professor in the entertainment industry department and artist in residence. Young had the idea a year ago to create this trip as a sort of domestic study project for the students in his department. Nashville was the perfect destination for the program because it is a center for the music industry.
“The country music world, and Nashville specifically, has done a really good job of changing, developing and thriving in a constantly changing industry,” Young said. “Dr. Campbell [our department chair] was great and really open to the trip; there was an overwhelming amount of support from USM as a whole.”
While on the trip, there was no down time for students, as they rushed from meeting to meeting with industry executives in the area. Young said the goal of the trip was to keep students busy and learning. Students had the opportunity to schmooze with an agent at the William Morris Endeavor, one of the top talent agencies in the world. Other meetings included time with the Vice President of ASCAP and the largest live sound company in the world, Clair Brothers Audio Systems, which provided touring sound equipment for artists such as Paramore and Creed. They also met with Stacy Widelitz, who wrote the song “She’s Like the Wind” with Patrick Swayze that was featured in the film “Dirty Dancing.”
“I had a hit list of people that I knew in the area,” Young said. “I wanted to make sure that there was a local connection from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, or Louisiana for the students to meet with while they were in Nashville.”
One of those local connections was Hattiesburg native Craig Wiseman, who has written 20 No. 1 hits.
Paul West, a senior entertainment industry (management) major, gained a lot from the trip.
“It opened my eyes to how the industry actually works, because in Nashville you’re surrounded by it,” West said. “You can’t ignore it because in that city there is always something going on. It opened my eyes to the fact that I can actually do this, and I can actually be successful.”