4 truths you (and your parents) must know about a career in entertainment

If you’re like me, you loved The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and, of course, the theme song that the then-22-year old Will Smith sang about how parents just didn't understand. You might think your parents don't understand the pressures of getting hired after college, but the truth is: they actually do. They've been where you are now, but what they might not know or understand, however, are the intricacies of how Hollywood works or have the contacts to help you get started.

I've heard from so many recent grads who are anxious, nervous and worried because they have yet to find the first job after graduation. They are looking online, getting some interviews, but have yet to hear the words "Your Hired!" I have found that facts and truth can calm my worries, so I wanted to share 4 truths that you and your parents need to know about entry-level Hollywood and the secret weapon that every college student and recent grad should have:

The entertainment industry is unlike any other

There are so many different types of jobs in this business, and there’s no “right path”. You can be a freelancer working as an actor, writer, director, or producer (I call this an animal in the wild) or you might want a career in an office that’s a little more steady (I call this an animal in the zoo.) Each environment has its advantages and disadvantages, and the path you choose depends on your personality, career goals, and availability for work. Unlike your friends with accounting degrees, career fairs don't demonstrate how you‘re going to work as a producer, talent agent, or writer. There are many paths to your goal. In the world of entertainment, the burden is on YOU, the recent college graduate, to find your own first job and navigate the jungles of Hollywood.

The pay in the beginning is terrible 

You can count on getting paid anywhere from $12.50/hr - $19/hr for most first jobs in Hollywood. A minimum wage job is not what your parents had in mind when they were saving for you to go to college. This can be a huge disappointment for them, but we have to explain why this remains the case: entertainment is a desirable field so competition is intense. You need a solid strategy and time to implement it. A great first job is to work at one of the big seven talent agencies as an assistant. CAA, WME, ICM, UTA, Paradigm, Gersh, and APA are fabulous places to network with other ambitious 20-somethings and learn about the business from the ground up. Plus, they’re the only companies where half of its employees are your age, so it's almost like you‘re still in college, or better yet, grad school. As a matter of fact, you should just view it as grad school for the entertainment industry, where you’re paid a stipend to attend. Despite the low pay, thousands of 20-somethings flock to the entertainment industry. And getting an interview at the right company at the right time is crucial.

Getting a Job Interview is Highly Competitive

Despite the ease of the internet, getting a job interview is hard! When your parents graduated college, chances are good they mailed their resume via the US postal service or, if they graduated in the 90s, they were faxing their resumes to whomever would read them. Today, you not only need a solid one-page resume, but, if you are one of my clients, I’d also recommend you have a full submission package ready to send that includes a:

  • 1-page resume

  • 1-minute video cover letter

  • A letter of recommendation and/or a list of references

The traditional resume provides the facts about your school and past experience, but a video introduction can provide the feelings of a candidate. You can't really say you grew up on a dairy farm on a resume, but you can tell that story in a video and demonstrates qualities like hard work, dependability, etc.... Companies are looking for candidates with a back story and a personality that shows great character, knowledge, and a passion for the industry. Think of an introductory video as a casting tape for an office: knowing that you‘re the first person in your family to graduate college, how you worked summers mowing lawns in the Midwestern heat, or what movies and TV shows you like, can give a recruiter a much better idea of who you are as a candidate and the department that might best suit you.

The Advantage of Expert Guidance 

Let your parents know that if you want to get hired with confidence, it takes two people: 1. A highly motivated job seeker; and 2.Your secret weapon-me, KP! If you've ever used a college coach, taken and SAT prep course, or worked with a trainer, you know the value of expert guidance in whatever field you are looking to excel in.

In over 3 years, I've helped launch the careers of over 600 20-somethings and I can give you the competitive edge to get hired! I know the market place, I have the contacts and most importantly, I know how to bring out the best of an individual and help him/her transition from "student" to "working professional" with confidence. If you are highly motivated and ready to super charge your career today, check out Career Accelerator, my most comprehensive private coaching program that will help you launch your career in the entertainment industry.

Krista Parkinson