USF Alum Has Hollywood Stars on Speed Dial

By Ed Carpenter, Office of Marketing Communications Posted Wed, 08/12/2015 - 12:10

Jake Slane ’08 has worked for some of television’s best-known networks and names: Nickelodeon, VH1, and the Kardashians among them.

“RuPaul was like a mentor to me,” says Slane of television’s most famous drag queen. “I once sat next to Meryl Streep at an awards show. She was lovely. And I spent an evening working with the cast of The Golden Girls. Betty White was hilarious and swore like a sailor!”

Slane, a former publicist, recently joined Producer Entertainment Group (PEG), leading its Los Angeles office as head of marketing — after transitioning from one of Hollywood’s most powerful public relations firms, Rogers & Cowan. The change helped him break a cycle of pulling 80-hour workweeks and juggling volatile personalities that led him to question what value he was adding to the world.

Professors' support was critical

He knew it didn’t have to be that way. He decided to put his energy into PEG, a talent agency focused on bringing diverse voices and acts to the small screen.

“I like putting everyday people on stage to deliver a message,” says Slane, who earned a scholarship and transferred to USF from Santa Monica College. He’s the first in his family to graduate from university.

At USF, personal relationships with professors Marilyn DeLaure, Eve-Anne Doohan, and Bryan Whaley opened doors for him. They even allowed Slane to commute to Los Angeles to intern and later freelance with Nickelodeon, while taking classes at USF.

“That meant that I missed a few classes, but I always checked in and made sure to turn my work in on time,” says Slane, who earned the department’s distinguished student award his senior year. At the end of the intern and freelance period, Slane was offered a full-time job. “My professors’ support made a critical difference. That is one major advantage of USF,” Slane says.

Anyone who’s interested in working in entertainment should do as many internships as possible in college, Slane recommends. “It puts them miles ahead of the pack and adds a critical layer to your education,” he says.

He also suggests that students find a mentor everywhere they intern or work. “Mentors can advance your career further than you can alone,” Slane says. That’s why he’s now part of USF’s Alumni Mentor Program, sharing what he’s learned.

Internship led to ideal job

“It can be as simple as making a personal introduction, writing a recommendation, or sharing a phone number,” says Slane, who mentored marketing major Patrick Simes ’15 until he graduated in June.

Simes, who’s also from Southern California, met with Slane, talked with him on the phone, and emailed repeatedly, to ask questions about his future career path. “It's one thing to acquire knowledge and skills in your four years at USF, but having a mentor really prepares you for taking that first step into the professional world,” Simes says.

Like Slane, Simes landed a full-time job after graduating with one of the firms he interned with, Doughbies — a San Francisco startup that delivers fresh cookies and baked goods in 20 minutes.

At Doughbies, Simes had an immediate impact, spearheading its free samples marketing campaign in highly trafficked areas of the city, helping with social media marketing, and even pitching in with an occasional delivery.

“After my experience with Jake, I felt more confident than ever, not just about getting a job but getting a job I truly loved,” Simes says.

Know someone with a powerful USF story? Let us know! usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews