This might be the most difficult part of moving to LA so far (and as I write this, I don’t even have a definite place to live). I say this not because it’s hard to find work, but rather it’s hard to find the right work.
When I first got here I was in survival mode (I still am, really). I needed a job and I needed one fast. I applied to every babysitting and nanny opportunity. I searched job boards, I sent resumes and cover letters to production offices, I posted to my LA friends on Facebook, and I was pretty undiscerning in general. My only rule was I wouldn’t do food service, marketing, or sales (this is for everyone’s benefit, as I wouldn’t do well in any of those areas) and the job had to pay me at least enough to get by or be flexible or part-time enough to easily find a second job.
The job I ended up with didn’t technically fit either of these criteria, but that was mostly because the job listing wasn’t accurate. The job actually pays less than what was posted (but this was appropriate, because I ended up only working with two of the children instead of three) and is less hours than was posted (it was supposed to be 4-5 hours 5 days a week, but it’s actually 4-5 hours 4 days a week).
So this job doesn’t technically pay what I need (enough for rent and bills, but not much else like food) and it’s not flexible enough to allow for a second job. But it was the only callback I’d gotten, so I had to take it. Which is unfortunate because once I commit to something, I follow through. So I’m now committed to this job for the next two months and have few options to supplement my income.
But this isn’t the biggest problem. The biggest problem is this job has no relation to my future goals at all. My preferred job would have some tangential relationship to the entertainment industry, even if it’s as nanny to someone in the industry. Something optimal would be a personal assistant to an actor/writer/producer/director/etc or something actually in the industry (PA, Writers’ Assistant, Script Coordinator, etc.)
Obviously, these are probably difficult jobs to find and reality is a bitch. But it’s still frustrating to not be even close to the industry for most of my day.
Since I’m still living in a temporary situation with most of my stuff in storage, I’m still in survival mode and find it difficult to do much else other than survive. Which means I’m not going out and meeting new people, I’m not attending events, I’m not even going to the Writers’ Guild Foundation library.
These are all weak excuses, but I’m explaining them here to warn any readers of the potential roadblocks you might face. It’s especially hard moving during the summer because many of my friends and contacts are either out of town or knee-deep in development.
So what am I doing besides complaining?
I’m still searching for flexible ways to supplement my income.
I’ve registered with Central Casting to find background acting opportunities. This will put me on sets and allow me to network and make friends with people in the industry. I can take these jobs on one of my three days off each week.
I’ve joined staffmeup.com. They offer a 30-day free trial and I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it, but it’s at least good to get some applications out there and see what kinds of jobs are available. The frustrating thing is most of the positions require at least one year experience. Once again entry level recent graduates are being Catch-22ed.
However, there have been a few interesting positions that don’t require previous industry experience. One such job is as a podcast scheduler. This involves scheduling the recording of a network of podcasts, hosting guests, and general office duties. This is tangentially related to the work I want to do and would put me in the room with a lot of movers and shakers. Unfortunately, I was one of hundreds of people that had already applied, so I don’t expect I’ll receive a call. (UPDATE: After typing this I realized how great this job could be, so I went to staffmeup.com and used one of my two “boosters” to move my application to the top of the pile. So maybe I will be receiving a callback….)
The last little tip I’ll leave you with is just to get out and around town. I have friends that regularly perform at UCB and a friend who just opened a creative loft space in DTLA. I’ll be keeping an eye out for conferences, events, podcast recordings, anything where I might meet someone who could be a great contact or just someone to commiserate with. The more visible I am, the more likely I am to stumble on an opportunity that will lead me to the next opportunity that leads me to the next, so on and so forth. More on this later.
So in my experience, take the jobs you can and keep searching no matter what. One thing I need to learn is to be okay with leaving a job for a better experience. I hate to do this, but it’s the LA way and it might be the only way I’ll move forward in my career. The best I can do to alleviate the fallout is to be honest up front with any family I work with. I’m not a career nanny and I’m still looking for work. It’s my understanding that this is the status quo in LA and there are always more nannies out there. Meanwhile, there’s no way to tell when the next industry opportunity will come around. So I’ve got to grab it when I find it.