Travel

Chasing your career in the city of angels

James Lynch, Creative Director of Campos Creative Works Inc, did just that, and gave us an insight into his time in LA so far.

Talking to James over Skype he is both friendly and enthusiastic as he explains how he, a former UCD commerce student from a small town in Kildare, ended up working in the events industry in the city of Angels.

“Well when I was in UCD, I did a J1 for the summer in California. I spent 3 months living in Los Angeles and I fell in love with the place,” he explains.

“I then took some time out for a work placement with an Irish music promoter called Pod Concerts. At the time they produced Electric Picnic and owned the popular Dublin music venue and club, Tripod.”

It seems that a career which combined both his love for art and music was the right fit for James and he soon began working across Ireland and the UK on an array of music and commercial events.

Yet while James had vast experience working in the industry, having helped manage and produce events such as Electric Picnic and RockNess throughout the years, he surprisingly admits that his move to the United States was a very daunting task.

“Something I realised from working in the events industry in both Ireland and the UK is that it is very small group of people.

“Most of the big tours and concerts are run by three or four main companies, so if you know the right people you can hopefully get your foot in the door,” he explains.

“Once I was in America I was basically starting from scratch,” he admits.

Yet having moved to America with scarce contacts, James soon found work with the nonprofit organization Xprize and helped produce their annual global conference Visioneering, which subsequently led James to meet his current employers Campos Creative Works Inc. While James found work fairly swiftly, he is quick to confess that the differences in the American events industry came somewhat of a ‘culture shock’ to him.

“In Ireland there is a tendency that most concerts or a festivals will usually be outdoors on a green field site. In the United States, a lot of what happens here is in existing venues, while a lot of companies would use hotel venues or conference halls in Vegas for their events so it is interesting to have a change of scenery,” he explains.

James claims that one major difference is that the notion of a ‘festival season’, which dominates the Irish summer months, does not necessarily exist on the other side of the Atlantic.  

“In places like LA, outdoor events are happening in November, December and January so there’s no such thing as winter down time, the weather is just too good,” he explains.

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Annual global summit, Visioneering

However while the peak seasons may differ in both countries, James emphasises that the sheer amount of work and time that goes into planning major events and conferences does not.

“What’s amazing about these festivals is that they’re on for maybe one weekend of the year… but truthfully it is 12 months’ work,” James confesses.

With upcoming events and global summits featuring major international brands such as Gap and Mini Cooper, surely James has a favourite moment that he has organised throughout the years?

“Fatboy Slim at Electric Picnic in 2008,” he says without hesitation. “It was a really great moment, it was one of the years I was really heavily involved and had worked on production for a few months.

“That was the pinnacle of it really, you know, like Saturday night main stage show. I always remember that very vividly.”

Having been a student himself, James realises how hard it is to try find a job in such a highly competitive market. However he is quick to stress that to stand out amongst your many eager peers – persistence is key. 
 
“If you find a job you like, you should pursue it. Apply for it online and then try find someone that you can speak to,” he says defiantly. “Whether it’s a recruiter, through LinkedIn or just through googling a company, it doesn’t matter who it is, you just want to get one little foot in the door. Even if it’s just a five minute conversation with someone you’ll get your name in their head and they’ll be more likely to remember you,” he adds.

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Having consistently climbed the professional ladder from production assistant to creative director, James attributes his success to both hard work, and more surprisingly, his part time job in secondary school.
 
“When I was in fifth and sixth year I worked in a hardware store in a small village in Kildare during the summer and every Saturday. While there I learned about timber, cement and different materials,” he explains.
 
“Working in the store just so happened to be really helpful for a career in the events production world. I was able to say ‘hey here’s an idea and here’s how we might build it’, just because I was familiar with the materials,” he says laughing. “I was able to fall into a creative role really easily and now I spend a lot of time designing stages or immersive guest experiences.”
 
Before our conversation ends I ask James what final piece of advice he would give to students and young professionals who may aspire to work in the events industry.
 
“The best advice is just work hard, work your ass off,” he muses. “I feel if you’re not working hard, the opportunities may pass you by.”
 
“I would also be happy to have students contact me for advice on seeking internships/work in the entertainment industry. I could probably put them in contact with the right people in Dublin, London and for J1 work in LA,” said James.

You can get in touch with James at this address: james@gildedgreen.net