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How To Catch A Break In This Town

Posted on: July 1st, 2009 by Christine Kent

Hi Everyone,

One of the things that is so baffling about the Entertainment Industry is that you can’t break in unless you have experience, yet you can’t get experience if you can’t break in. HUH? Talk about a Catch 22! Does this mean that only a select few get to have a career in entertainment? Can the average Joe on the street ever hope to get a break in this town?

Well, I’m here to say, Yes! The average person can break into the field of entertainment. It might take a bit of navigating on your part, but there are ways to get a start in this town, if you are willing to do your homework and put in the time it takes to succeed. I’m not going to pretend it’s easy. Like anything worth doing, it can be downright difficult to achieve. However, a career in entertainment can be fun, artistically fulfilling, and rewarding. In my opinion, it’s worth the effort! So, check out the list below for some ways in which you can get started and embark on a promising, and yet so seemingly out of reach, entertainment career.

Research Is Key – In order to reach your destination, you have know where you’re going. You wouldn’t set out on a trip across the country without putting your ending point into a GPS or checking it on a road map, would you? So, think of this as consulting a career GPS. Know what you want to do and where you want to do it. Go online and talk to friends and colleagues in the industry. Ask where they have worked and what they liked and disliked about their different employers. If you don’t know anyone in the business, find networking events in your area, and meet people who are like-minded in their career goals. Consider skill set needed, employer location, company culture, and room for advancement. Then, put it all together and come up with a direction for your career.

Know Your Stuff – After you know where you want to go, assess whether or not you have the skills and the education needed to get there. Employers are more likely to give you a try if you already have the skill set and credentials needed to do the job. Don’t leave anything to chance. If you need to brush up on something, take a class or do an online course. Learn all you can about your chosen area of expertise. Be so qualified for the job, that they would be crazy not to call you!

Volunteer Your Skills – This one is a bit controversial in some circles, but I am an advocate for volunteering to get some much needed experience. Now, I’m not saying you should give it away indefinitely, but a free sampling of your work can go a long way toward convincing an employer to take you on full time for pay. Smaller production houses are more likely to bite on this, but it never hurts to ask if you can volunteer your time in exchange for experience. At the very least, you will get that much needed experience and have something new to put on your resume!

Internships – I know what you’re thinking, “Internships are for college students.” However, things have changed over the past few years, and now internships are for anyone and everyone looking to make a career change or searching for a way to get their foot in the door. Plus, internships are sort of a “test run” for the employer. They can assess if they want to keep you, or if they will refer you to another employer with a recommendation. So, consider applying for an internship. It will get you some valuable experience and give you more industry contacts to add to your network.

Retrace Your Steps – Follow up is key. Since the dawn of smart phone and etablets, most of us carry calendars around with us every day. So mark down when you have connected with someone or reached out to them. Then put a reminder in your calendar to circle back with them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard candidates say, “I left a message two weeks ago and they never returned my call.” Don’t leave the burden of follow up in the other person’s court. Instead, wait a reasonable amount of time for them to respond and then be proactive and circle back with them. You’re the one that wants the career in entertainment (they already have one), so follow up and show that you are present in your career quest.

“No” Is NOT An Acceptable Answer – You’ve heard it before, and I’ll say it again…don’t take “no” for an answer. Of course, don’t get in anyone’s face or be obnoxious, but be persistent. If you try one avenue and you get a negative response, then try another avenue. Keep after it, time and time again. Rejection is just a part of this industry, and it’s a part of any job search. When you hear the word “no” just resolve that you won’t take that as the final word and try another path. The more you try, the greater your chances of success. If you are persistent the odds will be in your favor!

At times, it can seem like you can get a break in this town. No one wants to hire you without experience, and you can’t get experience if no one will hire you. Don’t feel defeated! With some persistence and some extra work on your part, you can catch a break in this town and embark on the entertainment career you’ve always wanted.

Until next time…stay tuned!

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Question: I've been out of work for a while. Do I take a job offer if the pay is awful?

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