When you first come to Hollywood, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you probably have an idea of where you want to be “in ten years” and the good sense to know you’re not going to start at the top. You get advice to start at the bottom of the totem pole, as an assistant or a PA, which you happily do. One job leads to another, and before you know it, you’re ten years in, and you’re not where you imagined you’d be. Or, you’re exactly where you imagined you’d be, only...it’s not what you expected.
This is perfectly normal! Our industry is so competitive that it can sometimes feel like simply having a job is enough. The pace is so fast and the hours so long that you don’t organically have time to think about your career satisfaction. But it’s important to take the time for a self assessment. You only get one life, and there are too many sacrifices we make for our jobs to keep doing them without a level of intentionality. So take a moment. Close your eyes, take a breath, and contemplate: Are you doing what you want to be doing? Does your work align with your personal values? Your work/life balance goals? Your financial needs? Your skills?
If so, great! Keep on keeping on! Make sure you set a time to check in with yourself again in 6 months, and regularly after that, to see if you’re still on the right track.
But if you’re yearning for something more, listen to that voice. It’s time to start thinking about what you want to be doing, and why. If you still haven’t achieved that initial ten year goal, take a moment to decide if it even is still your goal. Have you learned anything about yourself in the last ten years that's made you reconsider? If so, that’s okay! People change. They learn things about themselves, their personal needs evolve, and the world’s not the same as it was a decade ago. That’s life. You don’t have to stay committed to your initial goal; you only have to stay committed to yourself and your joy. Think about what your interests, skills, and values are NOW, and what paths might align with that. And then set some new targets.
However, if your heart still pounds in your chest with excitement when you picture that dream job, it’s time to take the reins and pursue it. It’s okay if along the way, different opportunities or obligations presented themselves, and your career took some interesting twists and turns. There’s no shame if your path isn’t linear. But you don’t have to be trapped, either. There’s no time like the present to invest in yourself and relentlessly pursue your dream.
If you’re working your initial dream job and not finding fulfillment, it’s likely that something’s changed for you since you started your career journey. Maybe the company culture isn’t what you expected, and the same job somewhere else would be just fine. Or maybe your interests have changed. Or the job you fantasized about all those years ago is just...different than you imagined. Consider what you like about your day-to-day work and what aspects you find grating. Are there other careers out there that might check more of your boxes?
The important thing is to be intentional with your next step and honest about what you want to get out of your career. Then, commit yourself to that vision by strategically looking for jobs that align with your goals. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t listen to people who try to pigeonhole you. You probably won’t get your dream job overnight, especially if it’s a pretty big transition. But you definitely won’t get your dream job if you don’t aim for it.
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan