He was a tour guide, a lacrosse player and a Lambda Chi Alpha founding father. He was once an Elon University student finding his way.
Now, Doug Finberg, Class of 1994, was named the executive vice president of marketing at MGM on Sept. 6. He manages corporate communications and marketing for the studio that produced “The Wizard of Oz,” “Rocky” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”
But before coming to Elon, Finberg was a producer at an evening radio show in Washington D.C. He was certain the airwaves would be his muse.
“Before I had gone to Elon, somebody said to me, ‘You have to make sure you go to a campus that has current equipment,’ so after looking at all the schools, Elon felt like a match,” he said. “Then I started to discover a lot of the theory classes on film. Everything changed.”
Changing directions was a successful move for Finberg. He spent a summer in Los Angeles to gain exposure to the movie industry. As a senior, he landed an internship at Lucasfilm, solidifying his passion for entertainment.
After graduation, he had a decision to make. There were opportunities in Wilmington, New York and California.
“I felt like I just had to get my head around the fact that there was no better time,” he said. “I had no children, I wasn’t married, I didn’t have a mortgage. I just had to take a big leap, so I decided to go to Los Angeles.”
His choice paid off. After moving across the country, Finberg has worked at Dreamworks SKG, Paramount Pictures International, Universal Studios International and Marvel Studios. He said his willingness to make a change led him to success.
“I would like to tell students that are going to graduate to take a big chance,” he said. “Take risks and no matter what kind of fear there might be involved with the choices you’re making, now is the time to really go out on a limb.”
Landing the dream job didn’t happen without trying. Finberg was a genuine person without a sense of entitlement, according to English professor Kathy Lyday-Lee.
“He had a destiny,” she said. “I knew immediately he was a rare student, but he still worked for everything he had.”
Although he worked tirelessly, the task at hand wasn’t always glamorous. Finberg was asked to get coffee and faxes, but refused to let thankless jobs discourage him.
“What you’re really there to do is be a sponge with the environment and determine what path you want to be on,” he said. “The tasks might be menial, but they let you figure out, ‘Oh, this is what this area really does on a day-to-day basis, that’s something I want to do,’ or on the other side of the coin, ‘That’s really what they do day to day? I’m not interested.'”
After absorbing as much as he possibly could at Lucasfilm, Finberg understood what he wanted in a career. The insight allowed him to make the most of his education and job experiences.
“It’s not just about knowing how to do the job,” he said. “You have to be prepared to dig deep sometimes and find out really what your motivation is, and I encourage people to do that because really as soon as you really get to the core of what it is you love to do, you are very much on the path.”
For many Elon students, the path to an engaging career leads to the entertainment industry. Finberg recommends those interested in film, radio, music and television remain committed to these passions.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement and there’s been a lot of change recently,” he said. “If you’re the kind of person who likes stability, I would recommend a different path. If you have creative outlets that you want to try, whether it be writing, directing, managing, there are so many different avenues of the entertainment business.”
Whatever career awaits a student, Elon plays a part in the process, Finberg said.
“That first year out of school is really about finding out what you want to do in life,” he said. “Elon is one chapter in the journey, and before you graduate the goal is that you’ve already started to look ahead at what that next chapter is.”