May is the worst time of the year. School’s ending, so that means more finals and parties and less studying and sleep than there should be. Season finales do terrible things like kill off my favorite characters (Lexie!) and keep me emotionally unhinged for three months. For as long as I can remember, my life devolves into tears, implodes with drama and includes devastating, life-altering changes. Or, I’m being dramatic and it’s all made up in my head and blown out of proportion — but I’m pretty sure it’s still happening.
I just began working as a production assistant for a prestigious company in L.A. By “just began,” I mean it’s been only two days. But for a dramatic art major waiting on tables, this is the reason I moved here. Rubbing elbows with real movers and shakers in the entertainment industry and having my face, name and qualifications recognized has the potential to open up doors for the career I’ve been working toward. Let the games begin, bitch!
After landing the job you’ve been waiting and waiting for, do everything you can to keep it. If they need milk by noon, I will be there 15 minutes early (of course, this could lead to potential car accidents in an attempt to get the sandwiches delivered, but they’ll get there, nonetheless). The slick outfit and at-ease demeanor is nothing if the charm is lacking. My mind was clouded with nervousness on day one and made me forget to do human things like talk and smile. Tip: Make every person at a new job fall in love with you, even if they hate you already.
Spring also brings the close of track season, creating an overload of competitiveness in me that would flow beyond my athletic endeavors. I do everything I can now to recreate this feeling. Giving yourself an opponent or obstacle to overcome, be it co-workers, a set time limit on tasks or your own weaknesses, unleashes this crazy-useful energy that keeps us on our toes. I’ll do my damnedest to overcome any challenge.
So even though running around L.A. picking up buckets of soup for 30 or so film editors is nowhere on my resume, I treat it like a game that I need to win. Clean some dishes? Done in record time. Wipe down chairs? Cake. Work with the other PAs? Wait, I didn’t know there were other PAs. I’m not special? I’m assuming this is some sort of Battle Royale where a few eager, qualified, recent college grads are pushed to their limits where one will get a coveted spot with the company. How could I fuck this up?
I fucked it up. Not entirely “fucked up,” but enough to inspire that May panic-attack I was hinting at earlier. I got behind on a computer software task I had to do for the day and I had no idea what I was doing. It felt like being punched in the gut when I was told I wasn’t needed the following day. That could not have been a test I just failed. Cue me organizing the crap out of everything I could get my hands on and smiling through the pain of my stupidity. Just like that, a small mistake could keep me waiting on tables and scanning patient charts longer than I’d like to be.
There are things you’re told when you fail at something you’ve been desperately wanting. “It’s better to have had the experience than to not have had it at all.” Bullshit it is! I don’t want a taste of the pie, I want all of it!
I eventually got asked to come back to the studio and had some tough decisions to make. My financial stability relied on a strict schedule of working all the time. Quitting a job is difficult. Especially if the new one you’re leaving it for is sporadic, pays less and has you doing more things you didn’t major in. Do I leave the place with a set schedule and pay periods for the unpredictability of a freelance position that’s already making me break out from the stress?
Of course I do. If you don’t go all in, then what’s the point of spending all that time in class learning and then not committing? The other job you leave behind will be fine. There’s no place for pleasantries and being considerate of every party’s feelings. The chance that they have your best interests in mind is rare. And our best interests should lie on nothing but the prize. It’s hard enough to get a first chance these days. Better not drop the ball.
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