When I moved to Los Angeles about two years ago, I was anxious to get out to this big city and start grinding my way to the top. After graduating college, I knew I wanted to be in the City of Angels in order to pursue a career in the film industry, so that’s exactly what I did. I packed up my small sedan with all my possessions and I drove halfway across the country to chase my dreams. And it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Below are few things I’ve learned during my two years in LA.
One of the main things I have learned in order to find success in this city, and really any other one, is that it is not what you know but who you know. Networking is king within the entertainment industry and it gets you in all kinds of doors that you never could have imagined.
But it is not just knowing the right people, but also knowing what the hell you are doing when you get access to that coveted door. Go to networking events that are related to your industry and step outside of your bubble. Strike up conversations with people and see what it is they do, you might find they can help you in ways you did not know were possible. But the networking does not stop with a simple conversation, once they get you in continue to network with any and everyone because you never know who can help you in this city.
Everyone from the top executives to people below you, if there are any, should be treated the same. It goes a long way in a city where individuals are notorious for being selfish and treating people based off their rank. Network with everyone and treat them with all with respect, because it’s the right thing to do in general and for your career.
Work Smarter Not Harder
As an entry level employee, you may find yourself doing all types of jobs that are not related to the field you may have studied while in college. This is a part of the process and necessary for you to earn your stripes, but that does not mean you should put your health at risk. You cannot work if you’re not healthy, so find the smart way to accomplish the ridiculous tasks you may be given.
Especially if the task is physical, and if you’re working entry level there will without a doubt be some sort of physical aspect, don’t just go at a task without thinking this will not impress your employer. And no one likes an over eager yes man. If they have to send you home and find a replacement because you’re injured you’ve done the complete opposite of impressing them. In fact, you may never hear back because of the frustration they had to go through to replace you.
Think the task through and attack it in an angle that is most productive. This shows your critical thinking ability and the fact that you can think outside the box to get a task done. It will go a long way with your employer especially if you think of a more productive way to get something finished that they never would have imagined. Henry Ford used to put his laziest worker on a new project because they would find the smartest most efficient way to accomplish it. I’m not promoting laziness but an intelligent and efficient approach to even the most mundane tasks will make you stand out.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
The first few months in LA are often the hardest because they are typically the least lucrative. There were many times when I contemplated moving back home because I could not find any work, but when it rains it pours. I started to just take any sort of gig and I found that I was incredibly unhappy at times.
I was working jobs that had nothing to do with what I ultimately wanted to accomplish just to make a paycheck. If money is the only incentive, say no. If you feel there is nothing to be gained from the work experience outside of money say no.
It will be hard sometimes, as you will have fear of missing out on that paycheck but it will be a lot harder to spend your time somewhere you do not want to be. Go with your gut when you get offered positions and do not be afraid to step outside of your career box, you might find you have a different interest.
But if everything in you is telling you to say no, just say no. You will be much happier in the long run because time is your most valuable resource. Your time cannot be gained back, so pick your gigs wisely. Do things that you are not ashamed to put on your resume and never chase the almighty dollar.
Having said that, never burn a bridge with any individual who offers you a job because the next time they offer you it might be what you were waiting for all along. Be respectful at all times and reply to emails and texts in a timely fashion so they are not waiting on your decision. If it is not a quick yes, it typically means it’s a no so be honest and straightforward with your employer and yourself.