Even when the job market is healthy, the media business is one of the toughest fields to break in to. Today, it’s even harder. That’s why the Media and Entertainment Networking Night, hosted by the Magner Career Center on April 6, was so critical — and so useful —for Brooklyn College students eager to enter the field.

Hopeful students crowded the Student Center’s Gold Room to meet alumni already working at such large media organizations as NBC, HBO, MTV, CBS Radio and Simon & Schuster. Their advice was good enough for any industry, but it was particularly sharp for the evening.

Charmaine Corney, ’99, an investment leverage director at Johnson & Johnson, was taking Mariel Smith, ’10, a journalism major, under her wing. Smith had been looking for a full-time job for about six months and wondered how to set herself apart from other entry-level position-seekers. Corney urged her “to branch outside of your current situation” by blogging to showcase her technical savvy. Corney also stressed that Smith’s writing ability was a key transferrable skill: “You can take your writing skills and use them across the board. In every aspect of business you always need someone who can clearly and concisely communicate.”

Career advice aside, the event’s other purpose was to sharpen students’ networking dexterity. Wendy Goodman, M.F.A., ’09, an adjunct professor and freelance video-journalist and copywriter, thought the preparation showed. “I was impressed by how most students came directly up to me, introduced themselves, shook my hand and started a conversation immediately, which I know takes courage and requires networking skills.”

David Ho, ’96, mobile and emerging technology editor at The Wall Street Journal, attended because he remembered well the important role alumni play in jump-starting a student’s career. “When I was a student, an alumnus who worked at The Wall Street Journal came to the college and became important to helping me start my career,” he explained.

Vanessa Bateau, ’10, is the direct benefactor of such a connection. Her mentor, Alex Coletti, ’87, who produced MTV Unplugged before starting his own independent production company, gave her some insight that helped her land a production assistant position at Viacom.

In her remarks during the evening, President Karen L. Gould underscored the importance of such gatherings. “The Magner Center’s events are more important than ever because of today’s daunting economy,” she said. Indeed, by the end of the night, almost everyone left with a handful of names, some résumés and a great deal of hope for the future.