Media-ville, a showcase of industry leaders in media and entertainment, returns to Fall Career Fair Sept. 14. Representatives from seven companies—BuzzFeed, HBO, Tory Burch, United Talent Agency, Tandem Sports & Entertainment, VICE and Steve Carell’s Carousel Productions—will be conducting informal interviews with students over Skype. Most are recruiting at Duke for the first time.

“Media-ville is an innovative way for students to have a virtual conversation with creative companies,” Amy Unell wrote in an email. A former producer at NBC’s “Today Show,” Unell is an alumna who works in arts engagement for the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts. The event is hosted by Duke Career Center in collaboration with Artstigators, a arts movement that Unell helps lead, which builds community between Duke and beyond around creativity. 

The first Media-ville was held in January and enjoyed a strong turnout. This time, much of the formula will remain the same: using the laptops provided, students will have five to ten minutes to talk to media professionals one-on-one. Unell stresses that these are informal chats, and students are welcome to ask their own questions. Especially for those unsure of their career path and looking to explore options, the recruiters are eager to offer helpful advice.

Among the big names at Media-ville is HBO. Antoinette Miller, Manager of University Relations and Recruitment at HBO, described a typical interview in three stages: first, she assesses whether candidates have the hard skills required for a particular role, such as production, creative or technological expertise. Then, she filters candidates by their soft skills, and finally considers whether they fit into the corporate culture.

She noted that applicants tend to have a simplistic understanding of what media companies do, focusing too much on content and programming and neglecting the corporate aspects. The best approach is to be both a fan and a thoughtful contributor.

“Tell us what you’ve observed about our company,” Miller said. “A good candidate should be able to say ‘I love “Game of Thrones,” but I also know the tactics behind the GOT Twitter feed, and I have a plan to use Snapchat to market GOT to new audiences.’”

This would require applicants to know the company’s business model: for example, HBO’s subscriber model differs from broadcast TV, which materially affects the roles that are available to interns. Miller said students should consider the full range of possibilities, as media organizations are looking for college talent not just in programming, but also consumer marketing, finance, media relations and more.

As past Media-ville participants can attest, a casual conversation can plant the seed for valuable opportunities such as internships, mentorships and jobs in the future. This summer Duke students secured internships at BuzzFeed, Tandem Sports & Entertainment and more, in part due to the relationships built at Media-ville.

“I met with some great alumni, and it gave me a lot of insight into what a career in media looks like,” said junior Lucy Cao, who went to Media-ville in the spring and plans to go again.

With the wealth of opportunities at the Career Fair, it is easy to miss what makes Media-ville special. In past years, there were plenty of companies willing to hire at Duke, but media organizations were less common—and for good reason.

“When there is an opening in the entertainment industry, most firms do not think about recruiting students using traditional college career center job posting systems,” wrote Angela Eberts, director of Duke Futures at Duke Alumni Association. “Hiring in the entertainment industry is much smaller volume and often is not seasonal.”

Many companies in creative industries also do not have offices in Durham, making it difficult to physically send recruiters to Duke. Skype interviews allow students to interact with these organizations, and to access internship opportunities in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. This is particularly attractive for students in media and arts programs such as Duke in New York.

Media-ville is new, but has already generated enthusiasm among students. Senior Lauren Rosen had a virtual meeting at the January event, and plans to go again this week. 

“I am thrilled to see that Media-ville is becoming a fixture at Duke career fairs,” she said.

When asked about how one should prepare for Media-ville, Unell suggests that students should do their research on companies that pique their interest, but notes that Media-ville is not just for job-searchers.

“Students don't have to come focused on specific jobs and internships,” Unell said. “This is a place to explore creative industries and learn what they're looking for.”

Media-ville will be held as part of the Fall Career Fair at Wilson Gym. Skype interviews will be conducted from noon to 2 p.m. on a first come first served basis. All are welcome.

Correction: A previous version of this article had ambiguous phrasing regarding the nature of the Skype interviews and listed the Artstigators as a campus arts group. Artstigators is a campus arts movement that works to build a greater Duke community around creativity. The Chronicle regrets the errors.