Story Student Success

Scientists in the Entertainment Industry - Data Scientists, That Is

By Stephanie Thara



​With the rapid development of online media platforms such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu, the needs of the entertainment industry extend beyond the traditional roles of directors and producers. The fast-changing media landscape requires a workforce that is proficient in cross-disciplines, and the CSU is responding to industry recommendations for curriculum modification to prepare students for the ever-changing nature of careers in the entertainment industry.

Data Scientists
On September 11, prominent entertainment industry leaders gathered at Univision’s Los Angeles headquarters to participate in the 2015 CSU Entertainment Advisory Council meeting. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the necessary tools CSU students need to achieve career success. Executives from NBCUniversal, DreamWorks, Netflix, YouTube and other notable content providers met with leaders of the CSU including CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White, San Francisco State President Les Wong and CSUN President Dianne Harrison to discuss the needs of their respective companies, as well as the industry as a whole.

“We need more data scientists and information technicians,” said David Eilenberg, senior vice president of unscripted development for TBS and TNT. “We need to reach out to students in the sciences and inform them of the expanding career opportunities available to them in the entertainment industry.”

Viewers are now watching full episodes or their favorite sitcoms online, with live streaming giving audiences the chance to view events in real time right on their smart phones. Changes in the media and entertainment industry demand that content creators and distributors develop new ways to leverage big data and predictive analytics to listen to, analyze and respond to audiences across a multitude of channels. Additionally, with programming being available across the globe, media moguls are tapping professionals who know multiple languages to serve an international audience.
“We are looking for employees with interdisciplinary professional skills,” said Robert Ramirez, a digital media producer at Netflix. “They need to have studied linguistics, and be fluent in content creation, passionate about creativity and understand data analytics.”

The CSU Entertainment Industry Initiative (EII) is tuned in to the industry’s needs and actively developing workforce solutions. In an effort to provide a high-quality education that prepares students for career success, the EII is collaborating with YouTube to provide faculty-training workshops to incorporate advanced technology into their courses to help students understand concepts such as data analytics.
Data Scientists
The EII’s Media Internship Program connects students to entertainment internship opportunities, where they work closely with the biggest names in Hollywood to learn the skills needed to excel in the industry. The program has placed over 1,700 students since its inception. In 2014-15, 108 students received internship credit and support locating and securing internship opportunities. During this year’s CSU Entertainment Advisory Council meeting, ​the council had the opportunity to meet three interns from the program and hear their stories about how their CSU internship has impacted their education. Among the students, CSUN student Edgar Barillas(featured right) shared how his internship at The Walt Disney Company gave him the opportunity to learn about and analyze the content distribution business. To learn more about the EII, visit Entertainment​ at the CSU.