How 21st Century Digital Skills Kickstarted Jake Sirianni’s Career in a Very Creative Way
College graduate Jake Sirianni created a rap video with Adobe Creative Cloud tools (including Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Audition) that famously landed him an internship on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. We caught up with him at EduMAX to talk about how using digital literacy skills, to get in the door at Jimmy Fallon and beyond, have continued to open doors for him.
“The biggest inspiration was just a true passion for late-night comedy,” Jake explains. “I would consider myself a student of late-night comedy. I’ve been watching it since fourth grade when I was old enough to watch Saturday Night Live. So when I was a junior at Washington State University (WSU), I thought about setting myself apart from everyone else. I think that’s super important for this industry: in addition to staying connected with people and being a genuinely good person, you have to have something that can make you stand out from the crowd.”
Jake decided to put his heart and soul into the project, apply for an internship at The Tonight Show and combine his video and music skills to draw attention to his application. He found a lot of failed ‘hire me’ songs online, decided an original song wouldn’t work and that he needed to think outside the box. He then came across one of the late-night talk show’s most popular videos — a segment of Daniel Radcliffe rapping on the show. He replaced Radcliffe with himself and adapted the rap to apply for an internship. Little did he know at the time, but he was kicking off a chain of events that would lead him to his current position, as an assistant editor at Brooklyn-based content agency, Mustache (which counts Netflix as one of its many clients in the entertainment industry).
Jimmy Fallon himself was amazed by Jake’s very 21st century digital skills, and not only did he get hired for a summer internship but he was also given his own featured segment on the show. The video, meanwhile, went viral and gave Jake a steadily growing social media following. He has learned many lessons since then, but he continues to ride a wave of success that started with this video.
Collaboration and the importance of career progression
At WSU Jake was the president of student-run production company Cable 8 Productions and had 24-hour access to a green screen studio. He brought the footage he filmed there into Adobe Premiere and then used Dynamic Link to transfer it to After Effects. Jake didn’t just use Creative Cloud tools as a design major, however. Audition, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, and After Effects also played an integral part for the work he did as part of his journalism courses.
“Without the studio at WSU the video probably wouldn’t have been created,” Jake explains. “Or it would have been lesser quality. Cable 8 Productions brings 40 students together, and you get industry-level experience without having to put your house on the line. You learn and hone new skills, meet new people, and make friends. That’s the beauty of collaboration.”
At The Tonight Show Jake worked with 24 other interns and learned how every part of the process is important and everyone’s job is being valued. Progression, he found, is crucial, and you shouldn’t be afraid to start at the bottom to get your foot in the door. His stint at NBC led to a social media internship at Mustache, where he was just hired full time as assistant editor. He’s responsible for content creation using After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop, and also researches, acquires, and manages raw footage. It’s a dream come true.
Jake applied for a position at Mustache because he really liked their culture and environment, and once again used his skills to create a bespoke application — a box covered in moustaches that not only included his resume and cover letter but also some snacks — to stand out from the crowd. “Any environment, in which growth is encouraged, is really important,” Jake points out. “Also, positivity: if I, as a young creative, see people be happy, it encourages me to be happy and enjoy what I’m doing. If you had told me that I’m able to create assets for Netflix’s social media account a year ago, I would have done it for free. Being able to be paid for it really is a dream.”
In the future, Jake hopes to be able to return to 30 Rock in New York City and work for Jimmy Fallon again or even Saturday Night Live and follow in the footsteps of the show’s creator and producer Lorne Michaels. Until then, he plans to continue to use his originality and collaboration skills to make an impact in the creative world, one video at a time.