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Hiba Bary | In Focus

By: Kemdi Nwosu, Hiba Bary

by Titan Universe
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Introducing, Hiba Bary, a fellow Titan TV and CSUF alum shares her insights and experience navigating through her career journey. From honing her skills in broadcast journalism to exploring the competitive landscape of internships and networking, she delves into the transition from college to a career at Entertainment Tonight.

I know you received your degree in broadcast journalism at Cal State Fullerton. Can you describe the atmosphere of what the program was like and like important takeaways that you learned in your four years there?

Yeah so, my four years were great… I was a communications major and the emphasis was broadcast journalism and I went into the broadcast pipeline. You could go print or you could go broadcast so it was, either or. I always was interested in broadcast so I dove myself into Titan TV. I started doing that freshman year because I wanted to build up my resume and I think I had the advantage of going into college.

I went and declared right away so I knew what I wanted to do. I kind of had an eye on the prize already so I think that was my one advantage and obviously, it’s case by case with different people, but as far as the curriculum itself, it was great. I enjoyed the types of classes where it wasn’t just all lectures but it was … putting together a TV production like OC News or … getting experience with editing and going out and shooting footage. So I enjoyed those classes where it was more on the field, where you would have to go out, shoot, do live shots, interview people, and put yourself out there in that aspect.

What registered was being out on the field and being where the action is … where I learned the most. You are on your toes and it’s not as scripted as a lecture, since you’re kind of bobbing, weaving, and learning as you go. I think that the best lesson out of just college, in general, was the things that were not planned and just how you react to all your experiences.

What made you decide to go into the journalism field out of high school? Why broadcast journalism over print journalism?

In high school, I took a journalism class where I worked on a school magazine with other people and that was my first exposure to putting together something and having your name on it, like a byline. Seeing that was cool and that just kind of opened Pandora’s box of what could be next.

I was hesitant about committing to that major in college because it is such an unsteady profession. Anything creative, especially under communications is unstable and it is all about who you know versus what you know.

However, I realized that this is something I really enjoy and entertainment specifically is something I have always enjoyed. I never was interested… in any other career path. I have always enjoyed movies, TV, and music, everyone loves and has an opinion about each.

What advice do you have for students who come in undeclared or are unsure about their career paths?

For advice to people that are undeclared I would say look around for what skills you have and what you are interested in and just be curious and open-minded. Do not be too closed off or stressed about deciding because you know it is kind of scary. This is kind of setting you up for life and what you are going to do for the rest of your life. Know that you can always use skills in whatever industry across the board and it is not always going to be black and white. There is a lot of gray areas and there are a lot of nuances when it comes to the job market.

Reach out to people on LinkedIn that you are curious about learning what they do day-to-day and I would set up a lot of informational meetings.  Personally, during my time in college, I would cold call a lot and I would message people on LinkedIn all the time. I will stress LinkedIn etiquette is very important.  You must be respectful and you cannot just ask for whatever you want.

Another thing I stress is doing internships because that is the free trial that you get for possibly a job that you can do for the rest of your life. I know a lot of internships start with junior year requirements… a lot of the big companies that I interned on later when I was a junior were not going to hire me when I was a sophomore or a freshman. So what I did instead was I looked on campus to see what opportunities were there for students already.

How disciplined would you say you need to be in college to get to a career similar to yours at this point?

I never really quantified how many hours that you should work… I just think having the motivation is already like half the battle and I think putting yourself out there. The rest is kind of up to you. I never really formulated or quantified this as “x” number of hours that I am going to put towards doing whatever. I think it is just case by case.

So, you had 6 internships throughout your time in college. What skills did you learn there that helped you with your current job?

I will say that internships, overall they showed me firsthand what it is like to be working in this industry. A classroom has its pros and cons but I think getting yourself out there on the field. Working and seeing if you could do this for the rest of your life is a really good idea. I just feel like exposure being in the office, being in the newsroom, being in that work environment, and knowing what it is like to have a boss and peers and how to kind of juggle all of that and responsibilities. Knowing that anything can happen at a certain point that will change the trajectory of your life, I think that is important to be able to do that. The show’s news that you are covering for the day can break any second so you need to learn how to pivot and realize not everything is set in stone when it comes to the entertainment industry.  

What are your feelings on in-person internships as opposed to hybrid and remote?

As far as remote versus in-person internships, I would recommend in-person as much as you can. There are pros and cons to remote, as well as pros and cons to in-person. However, I think you’re going to have the most recognition and exposure when you are on the field face-to-face with your supervisor. In person, your supervisors will also see you as a possible employee.  I don’t want to say out of sight, out of mind, but it does kind of teeter. For you to be there in the office, it just hits differently versus just on the computer. You probably have more opportunities to take on more responsibility and be assigned more work. 

Can you describe the transition from college to your job at Entertainment Tonight?

It was a shift going from student life to my first job. I did a lot of internships that set me up, so when I got my first job there wasn’t any shock factor. They were a free trial of seeing potentially what my life could look like if I were to pursue entertainment. Now, I’m an actual employee this time so obviously you know there are some learning curves when it comes to that territory. Now I can one hundred percent focus on this job in my career as opposed to when I was a student. if you can’t financially afford just to do an internship or you just really truly don’t have the time then try to look for paid internships or something that you can do on the weekend or maybe work half time.  Hopefully, they’re able to make it work. 

What was the hiring process like for Entertainment Tonight? Did your experience with previous internships prepare you for that in any way? 

My hiring process for Entertainment Tonight was all kind of just word of mouth. I got it through the school’s Entertainment and Tourism Club which is an amazing club to be a part of if you’re in the communications major or any creative major. 

I had gone to an alumni panel, an awesome way to network with fellow Titans or former Titans, and I had seen one of my current bosses from ET on the tip sheet. It was an executive producer of Entertainment Tonight and I thought to myself “Oh my gosh that’s amazing!” I’ve always wanted to work in entertainment and I need to talk to him during the networking portion. I was the type of person who would go to these panels with my resume printed out and would make myself look nice because I’d be around professionals.  

I remember talking to this executive producer during the networking portion and I gave him my elevator pitch. He gave me his business card and said to reach out whenever I was ready to apply. I didn’t think anything of it because many people say the same things, so I wasn’t holding out too much hope.

It was coming near graduation and I was going through my business cards and I saw the one from Entertainment Tonight. I emailed him my resume and reminded him where we met. A couple of days later, I got a phone call from one of the hiring managers asking me to come in for an interview. I went in for the interview, got a tour of the office and everything, and was offered a job on the spot.

I ended up getting a whole job at Entertainment Tonight where I didn’t know anybody and I just happened to meet this professional at an ETC panel. So it just really goes to show you that you never know what’s going to happen and that’s why you should just try to put yourself out there.

It’s important not to compare yourself and your journey to other people’s journeys because this is not written in stone. We all have different personalities, different connections, and different networks so the chances for us to have the same journey are slim to none.

How did you manage the commute for past internships when you were in college? what advice do you have for people not only for managing the commute while they don’t live in LA where most internships are?

When I was interning at NBC Universal, I would take the train to LA Union and the subway to Universal City. Public transit is great because on the train you’re not driving so you can work on homework, you can sleep, you can do whatever you want instead of sitting behind the wheel and driving. In the beginning, when I was still living at home, internships were thankfully easy for public transportation making it so efficient. When it came to Entertainment Tonight that’s when I had to take in my own hands and commute. 

What has your experience been like as a producer for Entertainment Tonight and how was it winning an Emmy for the show?

Titan TV, along with my internships, helped prepare me for my current position. We each have to pick our best show from the year and submit it to the Television Academy to decide which one is the best. Usually, we submit our Emmy’s show because it’s jam-packed and star-studded. We interview all the celebrities, it’s all about fashion, and we do 360 full coverage. To win our first Emmy was really cool, we had won Emmys before so I feel like we have a good chance given past success. No one in my family has done this before, worked in entertainment, news, or journalism, it was cool to break those barriers. 

Do you want to become a camera talent one day?

I did want to be in front of the camera, but it comes with a lot of ebbs and flows with the market. I wasn’t ever interested in moving to a smaller city to work myself up in the markets and be an MMJ which is a multimedia journalist. I never wanted to uproot my life and move because I knew I always wanted to work in entertainment news and like I told you, I never wanted to go into local news or politics. 

What’s your favorite segment that you’ve ever produced?

Steve Harvey runs this amazing boy’s mentorship camp on the outskirts of Atlanta. He funds the camp from his own pockets to help mentor boys who didn’t grow up with a father figure in their lives and who were only raised by single mothers. I had met Steve Harvey’s publicist at an event and she was telling me about the ranch, she said they would love for ET to come and bring exposure to this amazing event. I just kind of you know kept in contact with his rep and we ended up making it happen. The piece turned out great, it was a huge hit and Steve’s team loved it. I got a lot of good feedback from work, as well from my superiors that I did a great job so it was just a really good piece overall. 

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