You’ve made your decision. You’re moving to LA. You already have your moving date set, you’ve saved up for it, and you’re just getting started packing. The move is consuming your thoughts, sure, but is there anything you can really do until you get there?
Oh yes. It’s easy to get caught in a rabbit hole of scouring forums and watching LA-centric movies, but deep in your heart, you know that’s not productive. (Take internet forum people with a grain of salt. I promise.) However, you can and should be preparing for your move. Here are 11 emails that you should send out before you move to LA.
1. Hit up your college alumni organization.
There might be an official alumni office, or it might just be your alma mater’s Facebook page. (In an ideal world, it’s both.) Either way, see if there’s anyone you know who’s already in Los Angeles that’s connected through your alumni association. Even if they’re a stranger, email and let them know you’re new in town. Offer to take them out for coffee or drinks at their convenience. A lot of jobs and opportunities are by word-of-mouth, so you’ll be doing yourself a favor by making at least one contact.
2. Contact your best current references.
Did you kick ass at an internship in college? Have a former boss who will talk you up? An old professor or class instructor who thinks you’re wonderful? Email them now! Let them know you’re moving and ask if you can list them as a reference. At the very least, they won’t be surprised when they get a call from an LA number. At best, they’ll have some advice or contacts for you.
3. Hit up your friends of friends.
Do you have some friends who you suspect might have friends in LA? Shoot them an email. You can post this on your own Facebook wall as well, but a direct, one-to-one email is harder to ignore. See if you can get the email address of anyone who’s already out in LA and offer to take them out for coffee, lunch, or drinks. (It should go without saying, but now is really not the time to make flirtatious overtones. You’re essentially asking for a vague favor and it’s not cool for either of you to go there.)
4. Get some information and strategize for an internship or class.
Hopefully you have money saved up for your first few months in LA, but unless you’ve socked away a serious wad of cash, you’ll probably have to take the first job you can find. (It really sucks, but don’t worry, everyone has to do it.) Don’t make this wasted time: use your time right now to email possible internships or classes related to your chosen field. Find out what you’ll need and see if you can apply ahead of time. A word of warning: many places will state in their postings that internships must be for college credit. This has to do with CA labor laws, but don’t let that stop you from emailing. There is a great chance they’ll never ask (although if they do, please don’t lie because you’ll only shoot yourself in the foot).
5. Find someone who’s doing something you could conceivably be doing a year from now and see if they’ll give you advice.
Find someone who’s at a junior level of your field. Look for assistants, trainees, and fellows. Hit them up on Facebook or LinkedIn if you can’t get a direct email. Again, be humble, and ask if you can take them out for coffee or drinks to ask them for advice. Hopefully by now you’re picking up on a pattern: whenever possible, couch your ask within an offer. Even though the ask is still the same, try a version of this: “If it’s possible, I’d love to treat you to a lunch in return for any insights you wouldn’t mind sharing.” It’s more likely to get a response than “I really need your help, how do I become successful?” There is a good chance the person will see your plight and pick up the bill out of kindness, but you do NOT expect this and you come prepared to pick it up.
6. Set up an appointment to meet with your bank.
Let them know what you’re planning and see what advice they have for you. This might be really small stuff like not shutting off your card for suspicious activity when you start making LA purchases and turning off the overdraft protection feature (generally a useful thing, but good to switch off just in case of a moving emergency). They can check your credit score and offer financial advice specific to your plan for the next coming months. Also, make sure your bank has branches in Los Angeles.
7. Drop a line to any groups you have any association with.
Do a Google search on any group that might have you as a member. Religion, ethnicity, sobriety, political affiliation, veteran status, orientation, hobby groups, you name it. Even fan clubs fit the bill. The more people who are established in LA, the better. Cast a wide net and see how many people you can connect with. Of course it helps if they’re affiliated with what you want to be doing, but don’t let this stop you. Volunteer, join free groups, do whatever it takes to get in there and meet people. Be prepared to be humble and see what kind of connection, advice, and insight you can gather.
8. Email someone in your field in your hometown.
People leave LA for many reasons, and many of those reasons have nothing to do with a lack of success or insight about your field. It’s awesome that you’re coming here, but don’t fall into the trap of seeing everyone that’s not in LA as a failure. Drop an email and ask for general career advice.
9. Right before you leave, email some people looking for roommates.
Hotels are insanely expensive. If you don’t have a job lined up or a ton of money saved, you’ll probably be looking for a roommate. Check Craigslist or any of the roommate sites and throw out a few lines a couple days before you leave.
10. Right before your travel date, reply to a few job postings.
Where you look is really dependent on your field, but at the very least, check Indeed, Glassdoor, and Craigslist. Again, don’t shoot for your dream job if you don’t have the experience to back it up. The hard truth is that there’s a great chance your first job or gig is going to be lower than the status you enjoyed in your hometown. (If not, lucky you!) By starting small, there’s a greater chance you’ll hear back from the job poster and can either schedule an interview during your first week or, ideally, a Skype interview before you leave. Many people arrive in LA to the foam of a cappuccino maker. It’s okay, promise. There’s an unspoken agreement that your first 6 months are an adjustment period. Just make sure you’re making the most out of your off-hours time.
11. Hit up any bloggers or Twitter people you’ve been reading.
Blogging and writing for the internet is often a thankless, lonely time. Lots of people who write about LA for a living will be more than happy to answer specific questions. I field about 3-5 questions a week about specific neighborhoods in Los Angeles and I take the time to answer all of them. Most of my writer friends say the same about their specialty. Find someone who can advise you in what you want to know and ask a brief, succinct question. Most bloggers will be happy to oblige.