Multimedia Interview

6 11 2009


Prof. Christopher Winkler

Q: How long have you been a professor at Rowan?

A: This is my fourth year at Rowan and this is my third year teaching.

Q: As a TV professor and advisor for RTN, the Rowan Television Network, what tasks or responsibilities must you take on each day?

A: Each day, my day starts with unlocking and firing up all the studios and production spaces, making sure everything is working, in anticipation of a full days activities. From students in various classes and clubs, also, you know, working with the students in the equipment room, making sure that facility is up and running, ready to go. Making sure everyone, all the student workers are in where they’re supposed to be and everything is running like clockwork. That’s my regular routine. On top of that, I help students with any type of technical or media problem that they might encounter with any of our equipment or facilities or even just questions about course work. So that’s my day-to-day.

Q: Always busy…

A: Unfortunately…


Q: What made you want to be a TV professor?

A: When I was in school, I was always good at helping other people out and I liked to find different ways to explain different concepts and understand it. I just had a natural knack for that. I think part of it was upbringing. My parents were both in education and most people in my family are in education so it just runs in the family. When I was in school, I had some really great professors and I always thought that, you know, there are schools out there that need great professors and I’d love to go to one of those places.

Q: Very cool. You’re a good professor.

A: Thank you. That’s not very objective.

Both laugh

Q: Were you always interested in TV production? Did you take it in college?

A: When I was in high school, I think my sophomore or junior year of high school, when you start looking at colleges, where you want to go…um, I was always good in a lot of subject areas and I had just joined the high school TV club, just because it seemed fun and interesting and I like technology and video and that sort of thing. But that wasn’t going to be the career, the career I was looking into was chemical engineering, chemistry, that type of stuff. I looked at colleges for both professions and I found myself enjoying television, video, film work more than beakers and Bunsen burners and things like that so I made the decision that I was going to go for a degree in media communications. Take the lab coat, hang that up and then not go back and I’m glad I did.

Q: What college did you go to?

A: I went to Temple University, that was for my undergraduate degree, and then I got a Master of Arts from Syracuse.

Q: Was that for teaching?

A: Uh no, that was all for television and film and media. When I was at Syracuse, I worked as a graduate assistant so I taught some courses and helped some other professors teach courses and I really enjoyed it. Teaching was always on the back burner. It was get a job in production, work for a while and then when my body can’t take it anymore, go into teaching and settle in. It just so happened that teaching came a little sooner than I had planned but I don’t regret any of it.

Q: Did you have to go back and take any additional courses to teach?

A: Not at all, at the college level, you’re looking for people with advanced degrees, masters, PHDs, and at the college level, you just have a knowledge of subject area. Teaching experience is a plus, so I was a graduate assistant. That’s teaching experience enough to teach at the undergraduate level. If I wanted to go into a high school or grade school type of setting, I would have to go and take additional course work and get certifications; but at the college level, no additional training’s required.

Q: Did you stay on-campus when you went to college?

A: Yes, my freshman, sophomore and junior year as an undergrad I was in on-campus housing and then my senior year I had an off-campus apartment. In grad school, it was the graduate-learning community type of situation. It wasn’t technically on-campus but it wasn’t off-campus either; it was university housing. That was one of the perks of being a graduate assistant. They put us up there.

Q: What was it like moving back home?

A: I hated it. Hated it! But to save money and put a little in the bank, and have a roof over my head, that you know, wasn’t a horrible, one room apartment somewhere in the ghetto, living at home was necessary. There was always food on the table. So, that was what it was. So, once I had a few months of income behind me, that’s when I moved out and said, “Thanks. See ya. Bye. I’ll be sure to write.”

Q: Can you recall how much time went by between graduation and getting a job?

A: Um, yes. When I finished graduate school, the last thing I had to do was an internship and I interned at NFL Films. My internship ended in August and I had absolutely nothing in the month of September. No work, no calls. I had sent resumes everywhere and just like most of the graduates, you hear nothing back. Then the last week of September, NFL Films called me up and said, “Hey, we have a need for someone next Tuesday, are you available?” I said, “Yeah, sure. I can come in.” And so it started at one day a week, then two, then three, and then for that season, by the end of October, I was there four days a week.

Q: Did you go on to work anywhere else before you started teaching?

A: Yes. When I was still in college at Temple, I worked professionally in a couple different places, just part-time work, nothing huge so I had some professional experience under my belt. Moving into graduate school, I just did that. Once I got out of graduate school, my first stop was NFL Films. I started working for the Philadelphia Phillies, Comcast Sportsnet, Comcast Spectacor, and also did some daily work for a couple different, non-profit agencies in Philadelphia and then worked for a company called Ali Pixel, which does corporate video, industrial-type work. I worked for them as an editor. That was my last running gig before coming to Rowan.

Q: Was it as competitive as they say it is?

A: Yes. Getting a job in this industry is…difficult. It really isn’t as much what you know as who you know. You need to know a lot to get into this business but it helps to network and know people. Every job I have gotten in the past, with the exception of my job here, at Rowan University, has been because I knew someone or someone knew me and said, “We need to get you in.” or “We have a need and Chris Winkler’s the guy for you.” So, I never filled out a formal job application until I applied for the job at Rowan.

Want to hear more? Click to play the video and hear the last few minutes of this interview on tips you should do to get ahead in the industry!

*Play the clip to listen to a few minutes of audio from a Q & A session with Rowan’s Television Production teacher, Christopher J. Winkler.

(I apologize for the hissing sound you hear while playing the clip. It bothers me too. The original file doesn’t have it, but by uploading it to the web, it became noticeable. I hope you enjoy the audio/video despite this annoyance!)

I hope you found this interview to be informative and helpful in answering any questions you may have for your future job searches after college.

Special thanks to Professor Winkler for his time and for sharing his experiences with us.