Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fostering the Future: TEA NextGen Committee Announces 2014 Initiatives

Clara Rice, TEA NextGen chair
By Clara Rice

Hi, Clara Rice here. As Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) President Christine Kerr mentioned at the recent 2013 International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo, I have been given the incredibly large task of filling the very capable shoes of past NextGen Committee Chair, Kile Ozier, who has headed to the deserts of Dubai to serve as BRC Creative Consulting Director. I’m really looking forward to engaging with our talented students and recent graduates and to working with an enthusiastic team chock-full of ideas on how to engage the next generation of industry leaders.

Mk Haley of Disney Research with students at SATE '13. Photos: George Head
For those new to TEA or who are unfamiliar with NextGen, the purpose of the TEA NextGen Committee is to connect students, faculty and recent graduates to the TEA’s industry, organization and members, supporting and fostering the next generation of TEA members and themed entertainment industry professionals. 

Because of our incredible group of committee members and supporters, our committee enjoyed some great successes in 2013. Last March, I had the pleasure of joining Christine Kerr, as well as BRC’s Christian Lachel, the Warhol Museum’s Josh Jeffery and the Carnegie Center’s Dennis Bateman, at the “TEA Experience Café” at the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) of Carnegie
Phil Hettema talks with students at SATE '13.
Mellon University. Hosted by ETC’s Shirley Saldamarco, the program was comprised of portfolio reviews and a presentation to a room full of eager students, many of whom previously had no notion of the depth and breadth of organizations and career opportunities in themed entertainment. Several participants in the Café went on to attend TEA's SATE conference and the IAAPA Expo - and for some, this networking has enabled them to land jobs with TEA member companies. 

The NextGen Committee also produced several events around the 2013 SATE and IAAPA gatherings, including one-on-ones with industry experts and behind-the-scenes tours of major attractions.

Rick Rothschild of Far OUT! Entertainment with students at SATE '13.
To build on its 2013 successes, the TEA NextGen Committee has recently identified four C.O.R.E. strategies: Collaboration, Outreach, Resources and Education. Having these four strategies enables us to focus our efforts and channel the incredible energy of the committee members most effectively. It also enables us to reach out to the broadest cross-section of NextGen members possible. TEA is a global association, and TEA NextGen will reflect that.

Robert Ward talks with students at SATE '13. Photos: George Head.
Central to the committee’s outreach and resource strategies are the development of a Speakers Bureau and the NextGen Internship Exchange. The Speakers Bureau will be comprised of TEA members who are interested in sharing their experience and expertise with students and/or recent grads. In speaking to individuals about this endeavor at IAAPA, people immediately started handing me their business cards and saying ‘I want to help,’ which was extremely encouraging. There is overwhelming enthusiasm among the membership in getting the word out about the TEA and the industry, and to creating deeper connections with universities, students and recent graduates.

Dave Cobb of Thinkwell meets with students in the TEA booth at the IAAPA expo
The purpose of the NextGen Internship Exchange is to facilitate connections between the member companies that could benefit from internships, and the interested students and recent grads that seek work in themed entertainment businesses and industries. 

NextGen Internship Exchange Survey - watch for yours
TEA association members: This initiative will be launched shortly with a survey that we’ll be sending to you and to NextGen members, assessing current practices and interest in the program. What we learn will help us create a match based on needs and opportunities that will inform the functionality of the new TEA website. We want to help our members take the guesswork out of finding qualified interns. The fact that these intern candidates already have enough knowledge of and interest in the industry to become TEA NextGen members makes them likely matches for TEA companies.

The survey will also be announced on this blog [click here to subscribe to the blog]. Your feedback will help us shape the services we provide to those who will shape the future of our industry. 

NextGen members gather for a behind-the-scenes event at SeaWorld Orlando
In addition, watch for other TEA NextGen Committee announcements in 2014, including news of our collaborations with other industry associations, such as IAAPA and American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and NextGen programming at Summit Weekend and SATE. At this point, we feel we’ve established the fact that TEA veterans are accessible (many thanks to the membership for that), so we’ll be looking for other ways in which veterans and NextGens can interact. 

If you have ideas on how to make our committee better, we’d love to hear them! While we always want to recruit new NextGen members, we need to keep current members engaged, energized and inspired, and we need to do whatever we can to keep the student-to-career success stories coming.

How TEA members can help/stay involved:
  1. Speakers Bureau: If you are interested in becoming a member of the TEA NextGen Speakers Bureau, please e-mail me at with your name, email address, company, location and university alma mater. You’ll then be contacted as TEA Experience Cafés and webinars are scheduled, or you’ll be asked to host a Café at your alma mater.
  2. Internship Exchange: Please reply to the brief NextGen Internship Exchange Survey when it arrives in your inbox early next week. We promise it only takes 5 minutes!
  3. Follow us: On the TEA Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and on Twitter at @TEAXperiencCafe.