How to cope when all your friends have jobs after graduation and your Hollywood career hasn't started
Graduation is inching closer, and you don’t have a job secured yet. Meanwhile, all your roommates and frat brothers have their post-college plans figured out. Maybe they’ve been accepted to grad school, or they got a job offer months ago from a campus recruiter. It’s hard not to second guess yourself when your future is up in the air.
In reality, you don't need to worry. Take that in. Breathe. You’re not behind at all.
The entertainment industry is really tricky and operates completely differently from other fields. You can’t get a job in LA (or New York) if you don’t already live there, and most entry-level jobs require you to start immediately, so no employer is going to hire you before you move (or if you already live in LA/NY, graduate). Therefore, it’s a complete waste of time to send out your resume before you’re ready to start working. And since college is the best four years of your life -- especially if you’re looking at a few years of slugging through the assistant trenches -- enjoy your freedom!
That’s easier said than done, of course. It’s hard to feel good about goofing off (or finishing your thesis) when your friends and family don’t understand what your life plan is. But if you employ a few simple strategies, you’ll get through this.
1. Come up with your elevator pitch. Practice what you’ll say when people ask you what you’re doing after graduation. For example, you can try: “I’m moving to LA to pursue a career in entertainment. I hope to get a job as an assistant at one of the talent agencies there.” If you’re confident, you’ll only get positive responses. And you may be able to parlay the conversation into an intro to someone you can meet out in LA!
2. Find a way to save money. Moving to a new and expensive city without a job is daunting. But you’re in a catch-22 where you can’t get a job if you don’t move and can't move until you get a job, so you’ve got to find a way out. Consider getting a job in your hometown for a few months before moving if you need to save up -- and that’s a job you can probably find before graduation, which will ease a lot of this tension. If you're still feeling anxious, create a version of your resume that highlights retail or service skills, so you can hit the ground running with a temporary gig when you move out.
3. Stay focused on your goals. Feel free to get a head start on life after graduation, and work on some of your pet projects. Finish that screenplay, make a short film, and start networking with alumni or professors’ contacts. Just because you can’t get a job yet doesn’t mean you can’t develop your career.
4. Maintain a positive mindset. The key is to remind yourself that you’re not looking for the same things after graduation that your friends are, so their LSAT studying is comparable to you finishing your pilot, and their job offer from Goldman Sachs is akin to your intro to your brother’s friend at CAA. Celebrate seemingly small accomplishments -- they may turn out to be a lot more important than you realize.
At the end of the day, your entertainment career aspirations will require a far different path from that of your friends, and that doesn't make you any less talented or valuable than they are. The sooner you accept that, the happier you’ll be. Your friends may make more money than you or rise to higher positions while you’re still rolling calls, but you can't compare yourself to them -- you're on a completely different journey. And look on the bright side, you might be starting off as an assistant, but you can always impress your college friends with stories of all the cool celebrities you've met on the job. It can get rough sometimes, butHollywood does have its perks!
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan