Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's that time of year again....

....I'm getting a whole bunch of emails from about-to-be grads (A direct quote from one of them: "That Real Life thing is so stressful....") and a bunch from last year's grads who have now settled into that Real Life and discovered that it wasn't quite so stressful, after all.

One of those grads, Colleen Evanson, is living in LA. She keeps in touch (I'm delighted to report) and she was emailing one day about what it was like to get a job after college. I asked her to write about it for the blog....thought you might want to hear it right from somebody who just lived it.

Here's her story (thanks, Colleen):

Once upon a time I was about to graduate college. I kept hearing about this “real world’ so much I had to fight not to roll my eyes every time someone wanted to welcome me into it.

My naïve self was convinced that it wouldn’t take me longer than a month to find a job. Imagine my confusion when I was told that I didn’t have enough experience. I felt like saying, “excuse me, but have you heard of ICTV? It’s kind of a big deal.”

However, it’s not all bad news in your future. In fact simply having gone to Ithaca College was how I got into many job interviews. The first big hurtle is getting the interview.

I moved to Los Angeles mostly because I did the LA Program so I had a bigger networking base. First thing to do is inform your contacts that you have graduated and plan to move out. You don’t have to jump right into asking about any jobs, rather see if they are willing to meet up. Try to allow the topic to come up naturally, make it more conversational. Even if you don’t think there is a job available they might know someone who is hiring. The industry can always appear to be big from the outside but once you start to network it is bizarrely small.

Most people will direct you to check out craig’s list or some other online forum. However, unless you hit that job post right away it’s useless. I found a lot more success by looking up specific people whose work I admired. I took full advantage of IMDB PRO’s 1month free trial to look up any and all movies or television shows I had some interest in. Every so often as I combed through the crew details I would find an email address or direct phone number. You honestly can’t go wrong sending out a concise email asking for any advice. In fact, I got a few job interviews for major network shows from it. Half the time these people are more willing to hear you out versus some receptionist at a production company.

Another great resource is the IC Alumni network online. Most Ithaca people tend to help each other out because they remember what it’s like to try to get on your feet.

However the best thing I found was called the UTA list. It is a type of an insider job list. When you check in with previous internships or are networking with anyone in the business ask if they have access to it. At my current job I receive this list a few times a week and I send it to the ICLA Program office. It is where I got my current job.

Funny enough I was hired to replace an assistant to an independent producer who had graduated from Ithaca a few years ahead of me. She wanted to meet me mostly because of this.

It took me three and a half months to get a job. People say it usually takes about six months but even three felt like forever. There is a time when you will think you are crazy to take a PA job where you will be on your feet all day for little money but a month into unemployment you will jump at the chance.

Just remember any opportunity you get to work in the industry whether it’s another internship or a temp agency is a chance to be around professionals. Talk to everyone you can, make up some business cards, ask if people are looking for help. Even though I loved to be on set I realized only working production wasn’t for me. It is just as important to discover what you don’t want to do as it is finding your niche.

Most importantly don’t forget that this is the time in life when everyone is struggling to make rent and keep up with the bills. A time when we live cheap and buy futons that we cover with a sheet. Enjoy the fact that you are just starting instead of being overwhelmed by it.


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