Monday, June 13, 2016

The Professional Posse: Shay McGroarty

Yasss finally a Fordham lady is joining the Professional Posse! I met Shay McGroarty when I was a mere baby sophomore on Fordham's Campus Activities Board. She was, of course, a stylish and hilarious senior. I still don't know how I tricked her into being friends with me, but here we are three years later with a thriving cross country friendship -- she's currently out west living that LA dream.  

When Shay agreed to join the Professional Posse, I knew everything about her responses would be flawless. Lo and behold, she sends me her photos and there were outfit changes -- literal outfit changes! I died. Never have photos more accurately captured someone's personality. 

There's so much I admire about Shay. She moved to Los Angeles after school and is working her way up in her dream industry. She owns the coolest Etsy card shop ever (and sent me one when I landed my Birchbox gig!) When we chat, she either has me crying laughing about how she pretended to be British at a party where she met Josh Peck, or is talking me off the ledge two days before my graduation (I was worried that I didn't already have a job). She's great at taking life as it comes -- always with grace and a whole lot of humor. I knew she would make an incredible addition to the series and she did not disappoint!

Oh, and for fun, here's a throwback of Shay and me at Fordham dressed like we're straight out of the jazz age.

Name: Shay McGroarty
Field / Industry: Entertainment
Title: Assistant
Hometown: Wilton, CT
Current City: Los Angeles
Age: 25
Alma Mater: Fordham

The Job

Describe your role?

I’m an assistant to a talent agent. If you’re thinking Lloyd from Entourage you’re almost there, except my boss is actually an amazing guy and very nice. I just assist him every day. Someone once told me that while you’re at an agency you need to make your boss your top client, so basically that’s what I try to do.

Why the entertainment industry?

I’ve always loved movies. Being in the business I know what’s happening before most of the world does in film and television. I get to read scripts before the movie comes out and see agents push their clients for roles. It’s intoxicating watching a movie come to life before your eyes.

What was the application and interview process like?

My current position did not have an application process. I had remained close to a former agent and she passed my resume on to HR. HR called me up and scheduled a formal interview. In all honesty I thought I blew my HR interview. I had been reading the trades, studying Paradigm’s talent roster, picking a few clients to really have an in depth knowledge of their career, and the minute I got asked “Who are some of your favorite Paradigm clients,” I blanked. Shut down. I thankfully came up with one for talent and one for lit. Apparently I did a good enough job. After that interview I interviewed with my boss and got the job.

About how many jobs did you apply to when you graduated?

I can’t even begin to remember. I applied to hundreds of jobs. The Entertainment business is VERY competitive and it really is all about who you know.

What tactics did you use for finding your job?

I got my current position because I had worked closely with an agent who transitioned over from my previous job. She really went to bat for me and got me my interview with my boss. She honestly texted me one day and asked “What are you doing tomorrow? I told this agent that you should interview and he’s free tomorrow.”

What’s a typical day look like? Is there a typical day?

There is no typical day. Every day is different which is one of the reasons why I love this industry.

What do you love about your job?

I love being in the know. I love having access to almost any script I want. I love being able to see a movie go from start to finish.

Anything about your job that took some serious adjusting?

The work life balance (see below) and probably the amount of knowledge you’re supposed to retain at any given moment. “Who is the showrunner on that show that has the girl with that dog?” Huh? You’re expected to know that, their favorite food, and their past three jobs.

What's the company culture like?

It’s very much a work hard play hard environment. You need to prove that you’re not going to get fired before people befriend you but once you’re in you’re in… until you f*ck up.

How do you maintain a work life balance?

Hahahaha I don’t. My job consumes my life. I work from 9:30 - 7 on a good day. Sometimes I have to stay late to take care of stuff and I’m one of the lucky ones. My old job was notorious for keeping me from 9-8 and the one before that was 8:30-7:30 with a two hour commute. I try and wake up early to go to the gym but mostly I try and squeeze in a late night class. I try and see my friends on the weekends or just hibernate for the week ahead.
This job has been really great though because I have an hour and a half for lunch so I can run to the store or go to a doctor’s appointment during that time… which reminds me of a few things I need to do.

Best thing that’s ever happened at work? Any “wow I love my job” moment?

I was on a call when my boss and a few other agents told him he got the part in this huge pilot. Being on the call when an actor gets the job is a great moment. I also love getting my hands on a script that isn’t “out” yet. When projects are casting or in development the executives don’t like to release scripts out to agencies. I love being able to get my hands on a script before anyone else.

Funniest thing that’s ever happened at work?

There hasn’t been a moment that I can pin down as the funniest thing to happen at work but I do laugh several times a day it could be anything from an agent’s negotiation tactics or just emailing other assistants about something ridiculous that just happened.

The Preparation

What was your major at Fordham?

I was a Communications Major with an English Minor.

What did you do on campus? How did you get involved?

I worked with Natalie on CAB (Campus Activities Board) and was co-head of the Cinevents department. Cinevents was in charge of picking the movies that the student body could see for free. I strongly advocated for a more diverse roster than just the standard box office, sequel, etc and was able to play Beasts of the Southern Wild before it was nominated for an Oscar. That’s probably the movie I’m most proud of showing on campus.

Did you intern at all during undergrad?

I started interning as a senior in high school. My high school offered a program where after you finished your AP exams you could intern somewhere for the rest of the semester. I interned at Imaginary Forces, a post production company that is well known for their movie and tv credits. They did the opening titles for Mad Men. I worked there and was offered a position as their summer receptionist every summer until my Junior year of college when I went to Los Angeles to intern at AMC (full mad men circle). I also interned at HBO and MTV in college.

The Style

What’s your go to work style?

A dress and heels. It’s just really easy to throw on, accessorize, and be out the door. I also love a bold pant with a neutral top.

What’s the typical workplace style?

It’s definitely business attire. Men are required to wear suits and women need to be dressed appropriately. I will say there’s more leeway for the women as it seems as long as you have an esthetic you’re fine.

Do you have a favorite store for work clothes?

Anthropologie, all day everyday.

How did you make your desk your own?

I didn’t (sad face). I work in my boss’s office so I’m an extension of how he likes his office to look. I have added a note pad and am known to bring in a mug from home on occasion.

How long does it take you to get ready for work in the morning?

I’m such a slacker and I love to sleep so normally I only have 30 minutes to get ready in the morning. It helps that I have a set wardrobe of appropriate work items and I normally just wear a bold lip color and a bit of eyeshadow. My hair always ends up in a bun or ponytail so I never spend too much time on it.

Do you have a style inspiration?

I love updated classics. I’m a sucker for a shirt dress, a bold color, and I love a good print. I like to think the things I wear are updated takes on things Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, and Grace Kelly would wear.

The City

Why Los Angeles?

It’s the home of the Entertainment business.

How long have you lived here?

Two and a half years

Do you have a favorite restaurant in the city?

Too many to choose! Scopa for Italian, Sugarfish for Sushi, Lemonade for a quick bite to eat, and of course Shake Shack for a burger!

Favorite LA secret?

On weekends you can park in the Los Angeles Public Library for a dollar if you have a library card.

Favorite season in the Los Angeles?

Our so called Fall. I love when it gets crisp out!

Favorite part of the city?

Downtown Los Angeles. There’s always something happening and a ton of great places you can walk to! Walking in Los Angeles, who would have thought?!

Best city moment?

It’s always so surreal driving to a new place and seeing the Hollywood sign. I don’t think that will ever get old.

Do you have a dream city?

London. Natalie gets it.

The Advice

Do you have any advice for young professional women who are just starting out?

Don’t get discouraged. Make sure you feel good in your interview outfit. I know this might sound stupid, but I’m a firm believer of getting your nails done, hair blown out, new outfit, etc before an interview. If you’re worrying about how you look, if your outfit doesn’t fit right, or if your nails are chipped you’re not going to bring your A-game anywhere. Feel confident in yourself and that will shine through in your interview.

For networking, just do it. It’s a pain and can be such a chore but you can also make it into a game. I’ve met some really great people from networking that I would never have become friends with if I didn’t just put myself out on a limb and go to an event or ask someone to grab drinks after work. You never know where they’ll end up.

Do you have any advice for girls still in school, be it freshmen or senior year?

Do as many internships in as many different fields as you can. Even if you think you might have the vaguest inclination towards something, I would try and find an internship in it. How can you know what you like or dislike if you don’t try?

What’s one thing you wish you had known when looking for a job?

That it’ll take some time and not to take the first job you’re offered.

Any resume tips?

Proofread, proofread, proofread and make all of your social media private. Trust me I’ve heard horror stories! I have first hand experience that people search for you on all social media platforms before hiring.

Advice for interviewing?

Do your research. There’s nothing worse than having the company you’re going in on an interview for have a huge news story break and you don’t know anything about it.

The End Game

Do you have a mentor?

I have two women who I look up to and go to for advice. One of them got me this job and one of them gave me my first job in the industry. They’re both such accomplished women and I really appreciate all the advice they give me.

Do you have a role model in your field?

Honestly any woman who can make it in this industry and have a family is a role model.

Do you have a dream Job?

My dream job would be working at a production company in London and working on period pieces.

What's next?

You tell me! Ideally my next step would be moving to a production company and working in development or production for feature films.

Need some more Shay in your life? Find Shay on LinkedIn and Instagram
Plus, if you're into witty pop culture greeting cards, you can find her Etsy Shop, Growing Up Stepford, on Instagram too! 


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