Johnny Hedger '12

Johnny HedgerMajor: Communication
Hometown: Seminole, FL

Describe your current job role:

I began my own business in freelance videography, which requires me to have a hand in all areas of small business operation, as well as all steps involved in creating videos. As a freelancer, I have to market myself, do accounting, negotiate prices, write contracts, dialogue with clients, operate cameras, interview talent, establish lighting set-ups, work alone or with a crew, record audio, edit footage in post-production, and deliver the final result to the client. 

What professional experience(s) did you have prior to your current job role?

During college, I worked on small paid video projects with a couple of good friends who were also pursuing videography. We filmed weddings, one small commercial, and a small promotional video. After college I went on the road, touring with Christian bands (Tenth Avenue North, Audrey Assad, and Rend Collective), working under temporary contract as a representative for PBA documenting the tour via photography, videography, social media, and a blog. I then was hired as an Undergraduate Admissions Counselor at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where I worked for two and a half years.

What do you know now that you wish you had known about being a working professional?

I wish I had known that creativity is required in all fields of work, not just the arts. By “creativity” I mean that we must learn to think in fresh and new ways. Life is unpredictable, and often times so is work. Whether working in a structured office setting or as a freelancer, the job will always throw something new and unexpected your way and you must be ready to adapt. This takes creative thinking. You can’t rely on excuses or other people to alleviate the pressure of what’s being asked of you. Work doesn’t always ask concrete questions or offer multiple-choice answers and you must learn how to respond creatively to the challenge that is presented.

"Work doesn't always ask concrete questions... you must learn how to respond creatively to the challenge that is presented."

How did PBA prepare you for the world of work?

PBA encouraged initiation, curiosity, and the importance of community. Initiative is about locating vision and taking action. It often opens the door to new relationships, creative thinking, and productive working. Curiosity allows us to find possibility in the mundane and purpose in the boring. It grounds us, while at the same time frees us to dream. It allows us access to the “why” behind things and leads to a deeper understanding of our jobs and the people we work with. And finally, good community plugs our talents and abilities into a life of meaning, and not just disconnected activity. It points our studies and jobs in a meaningful direction, rather than in endless circles. Isolation often inhibits creativity and empathy.

What advice would you give to current PBA students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional full-time job?

Don’t fear things from a distance. You will encounter many problems that you don’t initially have a clue how to answer, but dive in anyway. You are capable of a lot more than you initially think (this was a big personal realization). Dare to think a little differently. Challenge yourself. Say yes to some things that are out of your comfort zone; you’ll most likely rise to the challenge and surprise yourself with what you are capable of. If not, then you’ll know firsthand your likes and dislikes; your strengths and weaknesses. Be gracious with yourself during the learning curve period. Don’t quit during the learning curve period (at least not because it’s difficult or you feel overwhelmed; it takes a little time to find your stride). Don’t feel trapped. Saying yes to a job does not shut off all other opportunities. You have the freedom to explore other career paths, even if it may seem a bit crazy. Routines are helpful, but not when they encourage mindlessness. Experience is the best teacher. Tend to your life outside of work as well; balance is important.

Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce? 

I have not had any sort of intentional mentor in my current field of work, but I have learned from some of the shared wisdom of those who are more experienced and talented than me in my field. I have also had an incredibly supportive community of freelancer colleagues and friends who have helped me tackled problems, sharpened my creative eye and enhanced my ability to run a business. There is much you can learn from those around you. Questions are very important to ask; they keep you humble and force you to learn new things.

 Spotlight posted in February 2018. For current updates from Johnny, visit his LinkedIn page or his website.