Hall of Fame Inductees Share Their Best Advice For Graduates [Part 1]

We’re two weeks away from Full Sail’s Sixth Annual Hall of Fame Week, and the excitement is building throughout the Full Sail community. Each year, six graduates are chosen to be inducted into the Hall of Fame based on their professional achievements and commitment to giving back. Inductees reflect a wide range of industries and career paths, and each of their stories is as unique as they are. One thing that all 36 Hall of Fame inductees have in common? They were all new grads once, ready to start the journey that would eventually lead them back to Full Sail as examples of what is possible through hard work and determination.

With that in mind, we asked past and present Hall of Fame inductees to share the one piece of advice they’d pass on to graduates about to start their careers. Here’s what they had to say.


Carlton Lynn (Recording Arts, 1994):
Take time to engage everyone in your work environment – from the intern all the way up to the artist. You will be surprised how much leverage, respect, and knowledge you will gain.


Charity Lomax (Recording Arts, 1994):
The best advice I could give a new grad is that the path you think you’re supposed to take may not be the path that you were meant to take. Be open to different opportunities.


Hunter Via (Film, 2000):
The advice I tend to give the most often is this – The entertainment business is very specialized, so know what you want to do. If you say, “I don’t care, I just want to make movies!” you’ll have a much harder time finding your way in LA or NY. However, knowing exactly what you want to do will allow you to make decisions that will lead to success. If you want to direct, only take jobs that get you near directors. You want to edit, find jobs near Avids and professional editors. This also allows people to help you along the way.


Tim Naylor (Digital Media, 1997):
Have a vision for your future self and stay true to that vision despite your circumstances.  Remember, it’s a journey.


Ric Viers (Film, 1996):
Negative people will try to participate in your career in three stages:

  • When you tell them what you want to do, they will tell you that you won’t be able to do it.
  • When you’re doing what you want to do, they will tell you that you’re doing it wrong.
  • When you show them what you’ve done, they will say that they could’ve done it better.

If you want a happy and successful career, ignore negative people at all three stages.


Nathaniel Howe (Computer Animation, 2002):

  • Approach people, new experiences and projects with an open mind and a sense of curiosity. When working for others you have to be able to find the beauty and wonder in what they are paying you to create.
  • Develop self-efficiency regarding your ability to get inspired. Fear is the enemy of creativity, embrace the unknown to combat creative blocks and to summon your talents more easily when under a tight deadline
  • Inspiration is around you all the time. Pay attention and get in the habit of being an observant person who is actively seeking the beauty and inspiration in the everyday. Being observant will help you in business also. Learning how to forecast and thwart problems before they arise and to adapt to situations while staying on track is critical.
  • Learn how to identify the essence of “what really matters” in meetings, creative briefs, and assignments from your superiors. Think about things from the perspective of others (what would matter to my client the most regarding this project).
  • For many, the passion that lead you to Full Sail began at a consumer level. Maybe you loved to play video games, listen to music, or watch movies. After graduation, you are entering the world of a working professional. The key is to always remember the passion and joy a consumer feels when interacting with an entertainment property, but to balance that with the mindset of a working professional who is there to create that experience.


Leon Hopkins (Recording Arts, 1985):
You won’t fail due to lack of technological know-how, your education alone provides the catalyst to think scientifically. Understanding the technical aspects of your trade is important, but it’s really just another tool in your tool box that you bring out when required.

The ability to work in a team environment with passion, showing a positive “can do” attitude, and performing your work with humility and commitment will carry you far beyond an understanding of changing technologies.


Kim Alpert (Digital Arts & Design, 2003):
Do what feels right.

We learn so much at Full Sail and there are so many roads we can take. Often, we take the first job we find, or are willing to do something that isn’t the thing we love the most. Take the time to explore roles in the professional setting. Maybe it wasn’t your favorite in school, but it is a good team or the right project. Being open to change and evolving is an important part to a long, fun, and fruitful career.


Dylan Dresdow (Recording Arts, 1997):
There is no simple formula for landing that first dream gig.  There are many paths you can travel that will lead you to your own definition of success.  Keep your eyes wide open.  Work hard.  Don’t whine.  And never stop learning.


Larry Katz (Film, 2000):

  • Be safe.  If you see something, say something.  You’ll never get in trouble for pointing out a safety issue on set.
  • If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re late.
  • If you don’t control your attitude, your attitude controls you.  Be the happiest person on set.


Phil Tan (Recording Arts, 1990):

  • Learn to manage your money. This is especially important if you’re an independent contractor/freelancer and you don’t have a steady paycheck. Always make sure you set aside something for taxes. You do NOT want to get in trouble with the IRS.
  • Your ability to work well with others and earn their respect is much more important than any technical skill you may possess.
  • The strong aren’t necessarily the ones that survive. The adaptable do.

For more information on Hall of Fame and the inductees, check out the official Hall of Fame websiteor join the conversation using #fullsailhof on Twitter.