I received an email from a new reader who is contemplating switching careers into the entertainment industry. The decision to switch into a new sector, especially TV/film, is a daunting, yet exciting one, and my advice is to utilize past professional experience to your advantage: identify your transferrable skills, network, and remain optimistic.
Q. Dear Media Chronicles,
I am a new reader to your site, and I am greatly in need of some professional advice. I currently have a great job in development, but have been wanting to enter the entertainment industry for some time now. Unfortunately, I admitted this desire to myself a bit later in life than is typical (re: post-college, late 20s). I regularly apply to television and film jobs, but my lack of industry experience and internships, despite the fact that I have steadily been working in PR and communications since I was a college student, has left me at a disadvantage.
I recognize I need to start at the lowest end of the totem pole, but even the most entry-level, basic jobs are difficult to come by without connections. I’m reaching out to you for any professional tips and advice. Internships seem to be for college students only, and frankly, I’m not sure I can financially swing an internship right now.
A. I’m glad you’ve stumbled upon my blog; it’s here to offer advice to people just like you!
Here’s what I would recommend:
1. NETWORK. This is very important. You’re right that most people in the industry get their jobs through connections, so while it’s still important to apply broadly, it’s equally (if not more) important to network. Try and get some informational interviews with people in the field. Great places to start networking are college alumni networks and LinkedIn (search around and see if you have any common connections with people you’re targeting then reach out for an introduction). Networking is incredibly valuable, as the more people know that you’re looking for a job in entertainment, the more likely they are to think of you when something comes up.
2. REWORK YOUR RESUME. It’s great that you’ve already got a solid job. It’s always easier to find a new job from the cushy position of being currently employed. Don’t underplay the fact that you’re not currently in television (even though PR and communications are HUGE fields in entertainment, too!), just find the transferable skill-sets, of which there are many, to highlight on your resume. I suggest looking at job descriptions and picking out some common threads between what you currently do and what you want to do.
3. GET SOME EXPERIENCE. While you’re right that internships are hard to to swing as you get further from college, there are still plenty of PA (production assistant) opportunities. Look on websites like Mandy.com for some short gigs or weekend things. This way you can add a bit of industry experience to your resume. Also, a little secret: if you work as a PA for 1 day or 1 month, you can still add it to your resume and leave the length of time ambiguous… this way a little bit of experience can go a long way
4. DON’T APOLOGIZE! Don’t be down on yourself about coming to it in your late 20s or early 30s. If there’s one thing I want readers to take away from the interviews on my blog it’s that there are many different paths into the industry. All of your post-college work experience will serve you well in whatever future job you get.
5. DON’T GIVE UP. It’s great that you’re realistic about how competitive the industry is, and while that’s true, it’s important to keep working at it. If you’re really committed to starting a career in entertainment, you need to be incredibly proactive and persistent. Keep networking and looking for small opportunities until something full-time comes along.
Do you have a question I can help you with? Email me at shari [at] themediachronicles [dot] com. If I can’t help you, I’ll find someone who can. Every question will be answered!