When Mariana Lahud moved from Mexico City to Florida to study Entertainment Business in 2010, she didn’t know what to expect.
“I’d never even heard of Winter Park before,” she recalls. “I had no roommate, I didn’t know where I was going to live, but none of that mattered. I wanted to work in entertainment. So I went to Full Sail, and it turned out great.”
Which isn’t to say it was an entirely smooth transition. Due to the accelerated nature of the program, Mariana had to get used to long hours and the occasional late night. Eventually, she came to appreciate the brisk pace of the curriculum as a way to prepare for a career in the entertainment industry.
“From day one, my instructors told me it was going to be a lot of work. You’re going to be up late, you’re going to have to come in on a Saturday or Sunday. It’s rewarding but it can also be physically exhausting. They stressed how important it is to take care of yourself, and those habits are things I’ve carried over into my daily life now,” she says.
After graduating from the Entertainment Business program in 2012, Mariana moved to New York, where she continued to build experience by working freelance jobs and taking on internships, including a gig in VIP services at Madison Square Garden. Her work visa expired a few months later and she moved back to Mexico, where she landed a job with OCESA, the largest live production company in the country.
“I’d interned there when I was 17,” she says. “I kept in touch. Every few months I’d message the director of production asking if he had any work for me. Finally, he wrote back and said there was an opening for a production coordinator.”
Mariana works on a team with a producer and three other coordinators. When OCESA books a concert or festival, she and her team are in charge of every aspect of production—from fulfilling technical specs contained in an artist’s rider, to making sure that passports, visas, and permits are in order when international acts come through. “We handle the logistics,” she says. “We take care of hospitality, and on the day of the event we operate. Afterwards, we make sure everything gets taken down and invoiced.”
Although she hasn’t been on the job long, Mariana is already making a name for herself among her superiors. She’s working on a few special projects at the moment, including landing a spot on the team that’s bringing Formula 1 racing to Mexico next year.
“It’s my job to read all of the rules and fine print and break it down for the team,” she says. “I’ve been with this company all of four months, and knowing that they trust me to do these types of things, it’s an honor.”
She says her degree provided her with a distinct advantage during her search for a job because similar programs are few and far between in Mexico. In fact, she believes that current and future grads can increase their chances for success by simply widening their purview to include global markets. She suggests connecting with international students as much as possible, because of their ability to offer perspectives on the how the entertainment industry functions in different parts of the world.
“There’s entertainment everywhere,” she says. “Don’t feel limited by language, you can learn language. And many countries have large English speaking populations. Very few of us graduate and land our dream job right away, but it’s important not to give up. You can extend your job search to the whole planet.”