Accomplished Alumni: Jesse Goddard

Accomplished Alumni: Jesse Goddard

For this week’s feature, I spoke with former Impulse Editor-in-Chief Jesse Goddard. Since graduating from the U of I in 2015, Jesse’s been living the dream — from helping out Entertainment Tonight with their awards season coverage, to interviewing pioneers in the film industry alongside beloved Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper, she’s really made a name for herself in the entertainment industry by doing what she loves.

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How did you end up working for Richard Roeper? What’s your work like?

As most students preparing for their internship or job search know, making it in the business is all about being good at what you do, working hard and making meaningful connections. But I’m not talking about the kind of connections that you ambitiously click around LinkedIn for in order to hit that sought after 500+ connections. The connections I’ve found to be pivotal in my journey thus far are those in which you establish a relationship with someone who you can learn from and who can challenge you to be better. I fortunately found that early on in a friend that was a news anchor in Champaign at the time. She became my mentor and really helped me establish my journalism network in Chicago. Through her I met Richard and he is now someone who I consider even more than my boss— my mentor and friend. These two people have been incredibly influential and key in my success thus far. So I encourage all students who want a career in this business to find a mentor and make meaningful connections.

Back to the original question, yes, I was always interested in film. Since I can remember I’ve always been a fan of cinema and the actors who can create a new world for the viewer. Richard and I see eye to eye on a lot of films, but he definitely allows for my input and discussion whenever I see something differently. I started working for Richard my junior year of college as his intern and it was a natural fit to continue working in a full-time position for him in Chicago post-grad. Everyday of work is different, whether we’re getting ready for a helicopter ride above Chicago with Hugh Jackman or running to Fox Studios to talk with Spike Lee about the Oscars, it’s always busy.

What’s your favorite part about working for him?

I love working for Richard because everyday is different. He challenges me to go above and beyond in pursuit of my dreams and career goals. He always lets me pitch and execute new ideas that I may have. He’s had me shoot nearly every media appearance or press event we go to, whether it’s on the ice at the Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals or chatting with Woody Allen about life, the movies and Donald Trump.

What’s the most incredible thing that’s happened to you on the job thus far?

I really couldn’t choose the most awesome thing that has happened on the job because even sometimes Rich is surprised by the things that have happened. Even after attending the Oscars for two years with a different entertainment news program, there are some parts of my day to day job with Rich that seem much more unbelievable. I’ve always been a huge hockey fan, so being on the ice the night the Blackhawks won at home was incredible and something I will never forget. But the most pinch me moments would have to be when I have been able to shoot portraits of some really incredible interviews with legendary directors & actors that I’ve admired for years.

Were you nervous about embarking into the “real world”? What do you miss most about college? 

This is a tough question to answer because even when I was in college I never really felt like I was in college. I spent nearly every weekend or even weekdays in Chicago or LA either working for Richard or modeling so it was tough to find a community at first. This being said, there were my journalism classes and my friends that really did make Champaign feel like a second home to me that I miss a lot. I really miss taking classes and learning and the ability for open discussion that college offers. I think there are a few things to take away… first, make sure you are always living in the moment post grad. It’s so easy to look at next year’s seniors and be jealous of the extra time they have, but don’t, you are embarking on a whole new chapter of your life that is better in different ways. And secondly, make sure to keep close with those connections you made in college, whether it’s a teacher you really clicked with or that friend from your class that’s beginning their career as well; trust me there’s plenty to reminisce about.

Chicago is such a beautiful city — it has everything you could ever want from the city lifestyle AND it’s not nearly as congested/overpopulated as New York is. Any suggestions/advice for seniors like myself who want to live and work in a city like Chicago?

Chicago is definitely a beautiful city and is highly cultured, but don’t be intimidated by how ready or not ready your friends may seem to jump into this new situation. Everyone handles change differently and the transition from college to the real world is tough in some ways more than others. You can find different bits of culture wherever you are in the city. If I want to spend time with my college friends I go up north where most of the recent- grads are, if I want to go to see a show or shop at unique places I can go west side, if you’re working a 9-5 you might find yourself in river north or the loop. I think there are different places for whatever you are looking for, it’s a very dynamic city with two million dynamic people— make sure to go out and explore and don’t get caught up in one place.

I know for me, personally, the stress of finding a job after college is overwhelming at times. I want to follow my passions and do what I love, but I also don’t want to be broke. Is there a way to reconcile the two?

I was also very stressed out about this when I was about to graduate. There is this pressure to get the perfect job right out of college and, especially in journalism, to find your path. But the truth is that there is no specific path — your first job doesn’t determine what you will do the rest of your life. Even if the first job you take offers you financial security, it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep your options open and pursue your true passions on the side. Always keep your passions at the forefront and never lose sight of your end goal, but if there are a few things that lead you off of the path whether it be having to make more money to survive or a job that doesn’t fit the specific qualifications it’s OK. Your twenties are about making mistakes, self-discovery and hustling hard.

Want to reach out to Jesse personally? Shoot her an email at jesse.goddard@gmail.com.

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