Mentor Spotlight Network: Derek

Derek Simon

Company: “The Americans” (coming to FX in January, 2013!)

Position: Assistant to the Executive Producer

College/University you attended: NYU Tisch

Major: Film and TV Production

How did you find your job? I was referred by a friend, who had been involved in the production of the series’ pilot.

What’s the weirdest job you ever had? I spent two years at the Howard Stern Show in various positions. Some of the weird things I had to do are definitely not appropriate for wide publication (but I’m happy to share them in private).

What’s the best career advice you ever received? It sounds silly, but you hear over and over again that it’s always “who you know.” It couldn’t be more true. Every job I’ve ever had came from a connection — be it family, a good friend, an acquaintance, or a friend of a friend of a friend’s mom’s brother’s babysitter. I used to be very awkward and uncomfortable with asking people for an opportunity, but — at least in film and TV — it’s really the only way to get the job you want, and people understand that — and are almost always willing to help.

What is the hardest interview question you’ve ever been asked? How did you answer it?
While this wasn’t exactly a “weird” question, I was once told prior to an interview by the woman interviewing me: “These questions are dumb, I don’t want to ask them to you and I don’t care about your answers, but it’s company policy, so…” It made answering them really difficult, because I wasn’t sure how seriously I should take them after that — too seriously, and I’d seem really awkward in front of this woman who told me they didn’t matter, but too lightly might seem that I didn’t care at all. I’m still not entirely sure if she was just trying to throw me off.

What part of your college experience prepared you most for the real world? Internships, internships, internships, internships.

If you could tell your college self one thing, what would it be? You really aren’t as busy as you think you are.

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