JT Rakitan

JT Rakitan found unexpected opportunities for honing his filmmaking skills.

At UC Davis, transfer student JT Rakitan found unexpected opportunities for honing his filmmaking skills.

I transferred to UC Davis as a film studies major knowing that attending a university not well known for its film program might make honing my craft on campus a challenge. Yet I was afforded unique opportunities both to do what I love and produce campuswide content before I was even admitted to UC Davis. That being said, I did have to work very hard to achieve these opportunities.

I began constructing the foundations of my skills as a filmmaker back in high school. I was very invested in my school’s film department, choosing to spend more time in the editing room than attending P.E. or study hall.

In economics there exists a term to describe my time in high school: opportunity cost. Simply put, it is just a matter of time allocation and the choice to participate in a given activity over another.

When I decided to transfer to UC Davis, I happened to talk with a friend, already a UC Davis student, who told me that Dining Services was looking for a videographer. I met with the marketing director and was hired shortly thereafter.

My time with Dining Services was very educational, giving me experiences that could not be provided by a class. I was introduced to corporate structure, a business environment and deadlines.

I learned to work with others to create polished final products, utilizing team members’ strengths, and help others improve their skills. It was such an extraordinary time to be a part of a multinational company without even having graduated from college. It offered a realistic picture of what could be expected of working in the post-graduation environment.

Then I was admitted to UC Davis and took a position as a videographer for Student Affairs. I was able to use the foundation I had built in high school and Dining Services to create content in my new department.

It has been one of, if not the best, working experiences I have had to date. Today with graduation around the corner and life ahead, I have to look back to see how all this was made possible.

The fact that I possessed a unique and desirable skill set was instrumental in opening doors to me; yet it was not something that was given to me. I started with nothing, I learned by doing what I wanted, emulating my role models and choosing to get my hands dirty rather than waiting for someone to tell me to try it for myself.

I put in the hours behind the camera, filming anything and everything, starting to edit on Moviemaker or iMovie, borrowing equipment from friends or teachers when I didn’t have my own. I’ve made things that worked really well and I’ve also made plenty of mistakes. So what can you take away from all this?

Go. Just go. Go do it. When you want something go out there and try it. Do it for yourself. Don’t wait for a class to be offered. You need to find out what you like. No one can teach you that.

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