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3 Career Lessons I Learned Working In Live Television

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Working in live television is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a high-pressure environment and you get one shot to get it right.

I still remember the first time I was on live television as co-host of a show on Nickelodeon. As we broadcasted live into millions of homes, I felt like my heart was going to explode through my chest.

Over the years, I came to love working in live TV, and the simultaneous rush and finality that it provided. This experience taught me some amazing lessons that can be applied to our lives and careers.

1. “Winging It” Is Easy When You’re Well Prepared

So many things can go wrong in live television. From celebrities canceling five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear to non-functioning teleprompters to microphones that don’t work, it all can, and will, happen.

In my first few years on TV, when I experienced something unexpected, I would panic. But with time I learned that the more I prepared I was, the better I could handle these situations. Making something look easy takes a lot of work.

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2. Make It Happen

Early in my career, I was part of a team that launched a live television program for a major television network. The challenge was that we had a small budget, lean staff and limited access to resources. Fortunately, our show producer taught us to how to adopt a “make it happen” mentality.

“Make it happen” meant not focusing on the problem, but rather creating a solution. Graphic designer out sick? No problem. Here’s Photoshop, figure it out. A segment that airs in three minutes was just rejected by the legal department? Okay, rewrite it, right now in 90 seconds.  When you adopt a “make it happen” mentality you shift from focusing on why something can’t work to how to identify a creative way to make it work.

3. Finish Something

One thing I loved about working in live television was that we created and delivered a “product,” or show, every single day. Then the next day we would do it all over again. It’s like pressing send on an important assignment that you just finished and being released from all of the pressure.

This experience taught me the power of completing projects and staying focused. When you finish projects, you create momentum, develop a strong track record and have something to add to your Backstory.

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Antonio Neves is the author of '50 Things Every College Student Should Know.' He is a graduate of Western Michigan University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.