Moving to a big city can be a truly terrifying experience, but it can also be one of the most exhilarating decisions of your entire life.
In October of 2014, I decided to do the craziest thing I’ve ever done— move clear across country from Florida to California with NO family, NO jobs lined up, NO official acceptance into graduate school and ONLY knowing two girlfriends. The emotions that I experienced so far have ranged from excitement, happiness, to nervousness and fear.
Here are a few things that I’ve learned so far on my 1 year journey in LA…
Before moving to California, I was told to “hustle hard” as soon as I landed in the “Land of Dreams.” I did just that. As soon as I landed and recovered from the long flight, I started
applying for jobs any jobs I felt qualified for: administrative jobs, babysitting jobs, mental health jobs, etc through Craigslist, Monster.com, jobs.com; you name it.
It’s best to not limit yourself when looking for a job once moving to a big city like LA, but always keep your skill set compatible with the jobs you are applying for.
In LA, no one has time to waste, so why do that with potential employers? Be honest, be upfront and APPLY APPLY APPLY!
When I first moved to LA, I had no jobs lined up (minus a few connections to promotional (wine, liquor, special brand events, etc) agencies that served California. Luckily, one of the ads I applied to on Craigslist got back to me. The job? A Behavioral Therapist for children with Autism doing in-home Applied Behavioral Analysis.
Had I worked with children with autism before? NOPE.
Did I love working with kids and have experience? YES.
Using the skills I have learned along the way about nailing interviews, I was honest and upfront in my interview for the job. More than anything, I let my passion for the mental health field be heard in every word that I spoke. Once I found out I had the job a few days later, I was excited and VERY nervous.
During the first few months, I remember calling my mother saying I was worried that since I didn’t have YEARS of training, that I wouldn’t be of help to the client I was assigned to; I wanted to quit and give my client the best treatment. My mother in her wisdom said:
“Jennifer, you are great with kids. Give it time. Ask for more training if you feel you need it.”
I stuck it out and shortly after a few months, my client improved drastically. I felt like a proud parent! I took a risk, stuck with it and look what happened! I learned that I am great at doing ABA therapy with autistic children! I would have never known that had I given up!
When it comes to comfort zones, we all have things we are comfortable with and things that we want to do, but are scared to embark on.
Moving to Los Angeles was a HUGE deal, especially since I had no one to rely on except myself. One of the biggest lessons you can learn from moving out on your own is the
ability to push yourself. When you move from a small city to a BIG city, you quickly realize that you are stronger than you might think.
Our fate is determined by how far we are prepared to push ourselves to stay alive- the decisions we make to survive. We must do whatever it takes to endure and make it through alive. -Bear Grylls
Were there times where I freaked out worrying about topics such as: money, how I’m going to make solid friendships with others, will I find love and the always present nervousness about failing in my future career as a therapist? YES OF COURSE!
I moved out to Los Angeles on many prayers, hoping my jump off the cliff of my normal routine life back home in Florida and into the deep abyss that is California would not be in vain and it wasn’t!
Some of you may already know it’s not easy to make friends in such a fame driven city where people can have dubious ulterior motives.
My best advice for you is to figure out what type of friend you NEED here in Los Angeles. Do you love wine, cheese and art galleries? Do you love hiking or other outdoor activities? If so, try to go to each event you attend (there are A LOT of free ones FYI) and put yourself out there. Say hello to the girl/boy who seems sweet. Introduce yourself to fellow art lovers at a gallery. Research local open mics, writing galleries or wine events- whatever you are into. Slowly but surely, you WILL attract the right people. Give it some time. Don’t take it personally if people come and go in your life, there is a season for everything and everyone you meet!
Like any big city, networking is KEY. For example, I used Facebook in order to connect with fellow mental health field professionals and to research mental health facilities for
possible jobs. I also got invited to a couple Facebook groups (Inspired Women of LA- IWLA for example) through my girlfriends in order to connect with fellow liked minded go-getters.
It doesn’t matter if you came to Los Angeles to model, to act, to work in the entertainment industry as a producer or to become a future therapist; the golden rule still stands: “treat others as you would want to be treated.”
As far as the golden rule is concerned in Los Angeles, time is money, so always be respectful of whoever’s time you are using and make sure to acknowledge that you appreciate them. Whether it’s my hair stylist, my employers, my friends or any creative artist I work with; I am always saying how much I appreciate their time and I know in return, they appreciate mine. Respect is both something that is given and received; so make sure to do that with EVERYONE you meet! You NEVER know if you might need these people in the future for bigger projects or that you might help THEM in their endeavors! The possibilities are endless.