A Short PSA About How to Get My Job (AKA be a PA)

So today I got a friendly e-mail from a KU alum who had seen me post about what I’m doing/where I’m working now that I’ve graduated from KU and am living in Los Angeles. He sent me the same type of e-mail that I know I sent to a million and one people when I was reaching for the stars and entertaining the insane idea of moving out here to work in television. He asked for my advice on how to get from where he was to where I currently am. Now, I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t nearly as friendly in my advice-giving as the people who answered my inquiries when I first came out here. In my defense, I wasn’t in an optimistic mood, and I whole-heartedly believe in keepin’ it real (unless you’re keeping up appearances–idk wtf am I even saying? It’s a Friday, guys. I just want to go home and drink).

But I also believe in paying it forward, and if this is truly something that he wants to pursue, I want him to jump in head first, knowing exactly what he’s getting himself into (because, believe me, I totally relate, and I completely support pursuing your passions).

I also really just wanted an easy blog post for this week, and since I’d already spent a fair amount of time writing this gem of an email, I figured, why not share it with the rest of the very small world that reads this blog?

So, two birds with one stone. **DISCLAIMER** I am not, in any way, shape, or form, an expert in giving industry advice. If you want something a little more thorough, check out The Temp Diaries  or The Anonymous Production Assistant, which can give you a much better idea of what it’s like to work as a PA in this town.

If you want a laugh, though, please, read on. I was in a very sarcastic mood (edited for privacy purposes):

Hi Tasha!

I’ve been doing comedy in Chicago for a while, but my wife and I have been eyeing a move out west for a while. One of my shorter-term goals would be to land a writer’s PA position at a scripted TV show — so when I saw your post, I thought, “hey wait a second, that’s what I want to do!”
I’m sure you’re extremely busy, but if you have time to give a complete stranger some advice, I’d greatly appreciate it. What path did you take to get your current position? What sorts of things should I be doing to get there myself? And have you enjoyed the job and/or found it helpful advancing your career as a writer?
Thanks!
Okay, so here you go:
Hi,

Honestly, I hope I don’t sound like a complete asshole, because there isn’t a whole lot of advice I can give you. There isn’t really one specific way to get a job as a PA. Pretty much everyone I know (including myself) has gotten their job through the connections they make out here–so living in LA is probably the first step. But I’m sure there are lots of production jobs going on in Chicago as well, so trying to find some job listing groups on Facebook and get in with a production crowd as a freelance PA while you’re still in Chicago might also be a good way to go. I know lots of people who’ve been able to advance a lot faster because they knew/worked with people back in their home towns/other cities before moving out here. But basically, just getting out here and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK.  (This is also miserable, because LA is expensive and even once you start landing PA positions they pay like shit. I’m making minimum wage and thank God I get fed at work or else I wouldn’t be able to pay rent.)
Besides the money factor and the difficulty in finding a job, I absolutely love what I do. I don’t know that it’s really advancing my career as a writer, but it’s been motivating and a great learning experience to meet the writers, sit in the writer’s room, and get their advice/feedback on writing. However, I should also specify that I work for an amazing crew of totally nice super awesome people. There are quite a lot of jerks in Hollywood, and I get spoiled where I’m at right now. So not every job is this great. I worked a reality show before this, and even though the people I was working for were super nice, I absolutely hated it. I drove an hour both ways just to get to work, and then did 12 hours straight on my feet without sitting down, with the only other time I was off my feet being when I took my mandatory 30 min unpaid lunch break. It sucked.
Keeping with the whole honesty thing–and here’s where I’m going to sound like the biggest asshole you’ve ever spoken with–being a Writer’s PA/Writer’s Assistant on a scripted show (or getting into scripted TV, period) is about the hardest job to get in Hollywood, and most people will tell you this. For one, it’s just difficult to break into the industry, period. For another, there is about triple the amount of reality TV programming to scripted television. I fell into the job I currently have because a friend of mine, who I studied abroad with my freshman year of college, had a friend who worked as a PA under my current producer, and somehow heard there was an opening on this show and so my friend forwarded my resume to her friend, who forwarded it to the Production Coordinator, who interviewed me and offered me the job two weeks later when the producer I work under found out I was a KU alum (he went to KU, too). So an insane amount of chance got me my job. It sucks, but hey, if you’re good at making friends and have a good work ethic, then you might stand a chance.
Another thing you should know–especially because I don’t know what your wife does for a living–is that jobs aren’t steady or consistent. I was extremely lucky to get work so quickly after finishing my two internships (I spent four months working full time for free out here before I started looking for paid work, and I got paid work insanely quickly). But even after working on a sitcom for five months, we are almost wrapped with production for our current season, and I’m not sure what’s happening next. Right now I’m looking at unemployment for at least the month of September, and crossing my fingers that something comes along before I burn through my savings or have to become a barista like my roommate, who gets up every morning before God is even awake.
Anyways. I hope that answers some of your questions. If you’re crazy enough to still want to move out here, let me know and when you and your wife get out here we’ll go get drinks in a super dive-y LA bar in Midcity before I show you the van where I live down by the river.
But seriously, I actually do know a guy who lives in a van. I wish it was down by the river but, you know, drought.
-Tasha
I really hope this guy e-mails me back. I think we stand a real chance of being great friends. Oh, also, he added me on Facebook, where I post links to my blog every week, so if you’re reading this right now, I’m sorry I didn’t ask your permission before posting this. I hope I left it anonymous enough for you. Being honest again, though, I have no shame. Your e-mail saved me something like two hours of extra brain power.
Until next week,
-tlc

Learning To Be A Good Person

As a twenty-something trying to navigate her way through the mud of work, career, and relationships, I find myself observing the human species on a larger whole more often than entirely desired. Why do I say that I would desire to observe less about human beings? Because it’s often a depressing topic, and far too complicated to provide any useful information.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t any relevant or enlightening information to be gained, it simply means that the information isn’t useful. Why, if it’s relevant and enlightening? Because people are stubborn, and harbor enough self-conceit to think themselves above the habitual nature of animals.

It’s one of the more frustrating things about studying faucets of anthropology in college; you learn all these things about the nature of the way that people think and interact–and you even see it acted out before you in strangers, friends, and family–and yet, the second you try to point out this almost instinctual habit of reaction and interaction and explain it, said person(s) become defensive or irritable. It’s because no one likes to be told they’re wrong, and certainly more so do people hate their opinions being discounted for reasons beyond their decision-making conscious.

Even I’m guilty of it. Why, I practically spelled out in my last post how much I hate being told I’m wrong, because I obviously think very highly of my own opinions. Why else would I put them out there for the world to see?  And it’s certainly not that I feel I am the end-all-be-all of opinions and what is wrong and what is right, but rather my goal is to use this platform to explain in depth POVs that I’ve reasoned as logical, and which I don’t feel get heard enough. (Granted, this may only be because my Facebook newsfeed is largely made up of residents of Kansas, which means a large portion of my newsfeed is devoted to conservative, Christian, and Republican opinions/values.)

So, when faced with wading through all this muck on top of the already thick mud of adulthood I sludge through every day, I’ve come up with what I think is a very good suggestion on how to be a good person:

1) Don’t be a dick.

That’s it! It’s that simple. Stop being a jerk, and life will get better for you and the people around you!

But Tasha, what does this entail? How do I know whether or not I’m being an overwhelming jerk?

Great question!

The tell-tale signs of being someone that no one likes are as follows:

Making bigoted or ignorant comments or actions against someone else because you don’t understand their lifestyle or choices.
A great, topical example of this is Caitlyn Jenner. By this point, I know I’m being repetitive when I point out that the crass, judgmental comments about Caitlyn and her bravery–though few in comparison to the welcoming and positive response she has received–are completely uncalled for. Even those with religious views against a transgender lifestyle who actually have hearts are disgusted by those posts. (I’m looking at you, Drake Bell.)

Not saying what you mean.

This is why all politicians are universally hated by all. Yes, I know that everyone needs to choose their battles. I agree that if everyone lit a fire under everyone else’s asses for every little thing, we’d all be scorched bottomless. (Actually, an ass-less world might not be a bad thing…though the terrible constipation the world would suffer might not be worth it.) But the truth of the matter is, people don’t like to be duped. They don’t like to be pushed around, they don’t want to be lied to. Things become far more complicated and frustrating when you cause more work, which is what always invariable happens when you don’t just come out and say whatever the heck it is you mean to say the first time. Don’t make us drag it out of you. This is why being extremely passive is the most irritating thing in the world. Be a nice person and find a way to say things nicely, and people will forgive you, even if you tell them that their mother is a fat witch.

Dumping your emotional baggage on others.

Yes, I know life is hard and sometimes you need help carrying the load. That’s fine. But if you find yourself feeding like a vampire off of the emotional response you can drum up in others, then that’s not okay. Creating emotional chaos does not lead to a good home, or a good person. Everyone gets emotional, everyone needs support, but once you find that support and fix the problem, drop it and move on. Do not dwell on the issue and continue to bring it up to your friends, roommates, and family like a festering wound that won’t heal. Festering wounds are disgusting and full of puss. Don’t be full of puss.
But Tasha! I do all of these things! I’m a huge, horrible asshole! Is there no hope for me?
Don’t fear! Here’s what you need to do to stop being a terrible person:

Love.

Now listen up, because it’s important that you make a distinction here: we’re not talking about lust–that love-like feeling that makes you a cuddle-monster–we’re not even talking about loyalty–that love-like feeling you get around your closest friends and makes you want to spend your whole paycheck on greeting cards for them–we’re talking about full-on, self-sacrificing love. The kind that is hard–maybe even sometimes painful–that means putting every being, including those annoying people you think you hate, before yourself without expecting a damn thing in return. Sound impossible? Well, you might be right. I know I’m not perfect enough to get that kind of love right all the time. In fact, I can’t even get it right 95% of the time. But I’m working on it. And if you want to be a good person, you should too. This kind of love is generous, understanding, and forgiving. This kind of love doesn’t post stupid judgmental comments on Facebook or Twitter. This kind of love doesn’t make a person feel like they are a bad person for living differently than you. This kind of love accepts all and lives by example.
So live by example. Learn to be a good person. Stop being a dick.
-tlc

What You Need To Hear About Fuck-Ups

First may I say, pardon the language, but “mistake” seemed too small, and “disaster” was just dramatic. No, indeed “Fuck-Up” is truly the only way to describe the day at work I’m going to tell you about.

First, have I mentioned that I love my job and the people I work with? I work with the most amazingly professional, kind-hearted, and understanding people. I will truly be sorry when this season ends and everyone starts going their separate ways. In some ways, though, (as I know I’ve said before) that makes it so much worse when I do mess up, because it means I’m disappointing people and causing headaches/frustration at a job that I actually care about. Does that sound terrible? I mean, I’m not a careless person even if I hate the job I’m doing, but it’s just worse when I don’t hate it.

On to my actual story/point.

This week I had the worse day at work I’ve ever had since starting this job, and it was entirely, wholly, completely my fault. It wasn’t a HUGE fuck-up, but a fuck-up none-the-less.

Sidenote: Have you ever had those days where you make one mistake, and then it somehow snowballs into something increasingly terrible until you start to wonder if maybe you’re really Truman and suddenly you’re paranoid that everything around you is somehow a camera that’s recording your every movement? Only me? Okay.

You’re probably really curious to know what this fuck-up was, now that I’ve built it up into this terribly dramatic thing. You ready? Here it is: It somehow escaped my notice that we were down to less than a full box of white, 3-hole punch, copy paper. Anticlimactic?  Maybe for you, but I’ll have you know I print scripts for a living. And I’m not the only one. There’s about fifteen people in our office that could need to print scripts at any moment, meaning the need for 3-hole punch copy paper and lots of it is very, very real.

As the resident person who prints scripts for a living in the office, part of my job is to let the resident office supply orderer (don’t you love our occupational titles?) know when we are low on printer paper. So imagine my regret when I came to work one day this week and discovered that not only were we extremely low on 3-hole punch paper, but that we were almost out on a script printing night. Not just any script-printing night. Shooting script night. The night I have to print twice as many scripts as any other night. Queue Hans Zimmer: *The Fuck-Up begins.*

Since I was the one who somehow missed how incredibly low on paper we were, naturally, I was the one who made the run to Staples to buy some more paper to hold us over until our paper order was due in the next day. I went for two boxes of reams, but Staples was entirely out of boxes of reams. Thank God they still had individual packages of reams, but did you know that a single ream of paper is something like three times the price it would be still in the box? Ridiculous. So I wound up walking away from Staples with about half of the amount of paper I came for, for about twice the price. *The Fuck-Up Continues.*

Things for most of the rest of the day went okay, but I could tell that my Fuck-Up was an added frustration and distraction on top of an already-stressful day. Still, I thought things were starting to calm down and that I might have a peaceful evening of trying to forget about my stupidity, until we got word at the very end of the day that the production schedule was changing, including the episode that we would be shooting for the next week, which meant that a new batch of Table Draft scripts would need to be printed.

On the one day that we were scraping for script paper. FML

At this point I was so fed up with the day that life had thrown me I couldn’t even process sentences that people were saying to me correctly. I must have offered about a dozen times to come in early the next morning to print scripts, to a continuous and unanimous “no” from my bosses because I wouldn’t have a long enough turnover. However, when they kept telling me it was because I was expecting a late night waiting for the current shooting script to be finalized, I–for some reason I can’t even explain other than that at that point my brain had just given up for the day–thought they meant that I would be having a long day the next day (a non-printing day and typically my early night). Just the fail on top the Fuck-Up cake, I suppose.

But why am I telling you all of this? Is it because I want your pity? Your sympathy? Is it because I like being a potty-mouth on the internet where everything is forever? Heaven’s sake, no. I’m telling you all of this because there is something that I think every twenty-something needs to hear about Fuck-Ups that I just learned from this very-first fuck-up at my very-first real, I-care-about-this job. What I think you need to hear is this:

Fucking-Up is nothing if you put your big kid pants on, patch-up the problem as best you can, and move on. Feeling sorry for yourself, disrupting work flow, and/or not learning from your mistakes and making changes to ensure they don’t happen again are the real fuck-ups.

When I came into work and found out the situation, I accepted responsibility right away. I didn’t try to argue, I didn’t blame someone else, I didn’t make an excuse as to why it happened. I made note of the issue and the immediate solution (running to Staples for more paper) and recognized that the best thing I could do was to make sure that I didn’t cause anymore disruption to the workflow, and to make sure that things continued as smoothly as possible despite my fuck-up. I did my best to make myself as available and helpful as possible to ease any frustration my fuck-up caused. I made sure the morning PAs knew how to print the Table Draft scripts properly, I printed the shooting draft scripts, prepped the paper as best I could for the morning print, and went home. The next day, I left any mopey, sorry-for-myself feelings at home, and came in to work with a bright attitude. I made sure I had a solution to prevent making the same fuck-up twice, and I did my best to be on-top of things and as helpful as possible.

And you know what? It was a good day.

Fuck-ups happen. Deal with it, learn from it, and move on.

Here’s to hoping that it never, ever happens again, though.

-tlc

 

 

Long Time No See

Sooooo my one week away from blog posts due to my trip to London turned into a three week hiatus…it has been quite the hustle to get caught up and back on track with all of my school work and job applications. Actually, I’m still not completely caught up. This has been the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants semester. I am surprisingly busy for an English major who is not taking any traditional literature courses this semester. But I suppose I honestly prefer this to sitting around with nothing to do.

Okay, so now to the good stuff: what have I been doing these last three weeks, and have I found a job yet?

Well, the quick answer to the second part of that question is no, I have not. But more on that in a minute. As far as what I’ve been doing for the last three weeks goes: well, to start with, I spent my spring break in London, being a complete tourist and momentarily satisfying my wanderlust. It was an absolutely fantastic week, filled with a lot of insightful time to myself, traveling among the different parts of London, seeing the sights and watching the people.  When I returned home I was absolutely exhausted, and feel that I must have slept more than I was awake for the next week. I have certainly not kept such a good bedtime in my entire life.  This also meant I was a bit behind on schoolwork, though, as I simply could not keep my eyes open long enough at night to finish my work early.

Honestly, had I not also been applying for a few internships that required I create writing samples for them, I probably wouldn’t have been behind or needed so much time to catch up.  That’s right, I have a couple leads on internships! (Cross your fingers–everything is still completely up in the air).

But, in thinking about these possible internships, and looking into my immediate plans for after graduation–especially after taking some time to myself in London–I am coming to terms with myself and finally finding some peace about my lack of a job after graduation.  I am confident I am not alone when I say that I have felt, and have put on myself, a  significant amount of pressure to have a job by the time I graduate.  For some reason, my idea of general success has always been that of someone who either has a job by the end of their time in college, or has been accepted into a respectable graduate program.

But I am starting to believe that its okay that I do not have a full-time “Big Kid” job to enter into immediately after school. I am starting to get much more excited about the multitude of opportunities ahead of me to experience several different fields of work.  I am excited to explore, and hopefully support myself along the way.  Yes, it is still frightening not to have financial security, but I believe this is the path I have chosen, subconsciously, because I’d rather face financial uncertainty than mundane security.  I have always wanted to live, and experience, meet, and explore–something I can’t do from the same apartment and the same job in the same office month after month.  I think this has been a long time coming, but–particularly after my two professional internships–I’m learning that I am not an office person. I do not want to work in an office atmosphere for the rest of my life. I like to be on my feet, working with my hands, conversing with people and seeing a positive end result for the work that I do.

So no,  I do not have a job yet, but I am attacking the job search process with a renewed hope, a new angle, and a much more enthusiastic attitude!  My advice to those of you still searching in despair?  Let go of the pressure to have a job lined up by graduation: it’s okay. Be willing to accept the possibilty of being a waiter, or barista if need be.  Explore, and keep hope! You will find your place.

Until Next Monday,

Yours truly,

tlc

Flowers are Always Good

Thank God for great friends, right?

Boy, I tell you what, this last week has been full of ups and downs. Well, in particular, one reassuring up, and one very, very low down.  Reflecting, I suppose I’ve learned something about myself in all of this. But maybe I should back up a bit first and explain…before I explain.

The week started out pretty well. I was very optimistic–I made my first-ever CV, made the trek to the Career Center and got it looked over (she thought it looked great, I might add), and went to the University Career Fair, where I talked to some programs that I’m actually very interested in, and got an interview for a program I hadn’t even intended on applying for (strange how those things work out).

That wasn’t even the high of my week, though: the day before, I had been offered both a student library job/internship (I’ve been trying to snag a job at KU libraries for the last three years, but scheduling has just never worked out before now) for the rest of the semester, and a summer job as a Teaching Assistant for Duke TIP.

Still, all of this was sort of arbitrary–secondary, perhaps–to the real plan. My coworker and I had our hearts and our heads set: we were going to work for Disney. She had worked as part of the Disney College Program before, and I had been dreaming about it since before I was even in college–in fact, I think the first time I ever looked the Disney College Program up, I was a junior in high school.

So, I was going to apply, and she was going to re-apply. And we were going to work at Walt Disney World, or Walt Disneyland, or Walt Disney World and Walt Disneyland, and for the next six months, we were going to be golden. Then, using my awesome experience working in one of the Disney parks, I was going to apply for writing internships in television and development, and of course employers were going to love me–I’m fun, I’m responsible, and I have a lot of good work experience. This was the plan. This was going to happen. It felt right. It was right.

Until I didn’t move through to the next phase of the interview process.

Yep, that’s right, revel in the irony, everyone: Tasha, the woman who has loved Disney since she was old enough to watch movies; the woman who is so obsessed with Disney fairy tales that she wrote her senior thesis on them, did not make it through the interview process for the Disney College Program. Maybe it was one too many “neutrals” on the survey I had to fill out; maybe it was because, instead of a positive person (which, in comparison with my coworker, I am no where near positive, but in terms of the rest of the world, I’m a pretty positive person) I consider myself more of a realist, because to me, being a realist is still positive, just not delusional. (…Not that positive people are delusional…) But now I’m starting to sound more like a bitter, negative, whiny person.

My point is this: I hit a bottom this week. One of dreams that I’ve had for a very, very long time is no longer possible.  And, while right now it still stings, that’s okay. I’m okay. It’s not like I haven’t been thrown curve-balls in my life before. In fact, most of my life (in my own opinion) has been nothing but curve balls. Disappointments and rejections that have forced me to take ninety-degree turns and barrel on through a new path. And that’s only what this is. A ninety-degree turn. And so now, I’ll just have to barrel that path in a new direction, and hopefully shoot for a similar–or better–landing place.

And really, taking ninety-degree turns is actually good for me, because I tend to make long, intricate plans for my life and what happens in it, and these moments are eye-opening reminders that I shouldn’t shut the rest of the world and its countless opportunities out. So, while Disney lost a seriously good potential employee this week, some other opportunity I haven’t considered yet is going to gain a seriously great candidate. And I’m going to sound cocky, because it’s true. I work hard.

And that brings me to what I learned about myself from all of this: I realized, amid my sobbing, disappointed phone call to my mother, and my rather mopey Monday, that somewhere along my life, I seem to have gotten my priorities mixed up.  I am in a relationship with my work and career goals. I care more about working towards success, than I do about making and growing relationships with other people along the way. And this is wrong. Because success IS the people and relationships you have while making your way, and your living, in this world.

Thank God I have friends like my coworker, who sent me flowers (because flowers really do make everything better), and spent a very long time occupied by my emotional embraces, who–despite my relationship with my work (which is a horrible boyfriend, by the way; he never remembers my birthday)–has somehow become one of my dearest friends. And it is friendships like hers, and friendships like my roommates, and friendships and love like my mother’s that has reminded me that it really is the relationships that matter. What’s it worth to conquer the world without someone to share it with?

So, my fellow almost-graduates, my only advice to you this week is this: make the absolute best friends you can, and keep them, because they won’t judge you when you’re working in a coffee shop to pay the rent, and they will always buy you flowers when you are very, very sad.

Here’s to hoping next Monday is a little happier.

Yours truly,

tlc