January is typically a time of renewal, where the new year ushers in more opportunities and times for growth as the sun sets on the challenges brought by the year prior. While 2020 has brought more than its fair share of difficulties, including a pandemic that we’re still seeing our way through, I want you to know that it’s still possible to utilize this time to transform your life and career. Having moved 3,000 miles from home and experienced both beginning a new job at the very start of the pandemic, as well as being laid off due to the effects of coronavirus, I know the strong emotions thousands of people in similar positions are facing at this time of uncertainty. Though life is still unconventional at the moment, these are my tips for navigating a move and securing your dream job in the midst of the pandemic.
- Don’t be afraid of the unknown and remember what drives you.
This time last year, I was planning my grand adventure of moving cross-country alone from New York to Los Angeles. Having a background working in entertainment publicity with a focus on film and celebrity PR, I knew Los Angeles was the place to be for increased career opportunities and growth. Even before the pandemic swept through the country, I had my worries about moving. As a native New Yorker whose family has lived there for over a hundred years, I couldn’t help but second guess my choice to move. What if I never get a job out there? How will I make friends? How will I deal with all the *gasp* natural sunlight?
Though it’s natural to be nervous ahead of big life changes, I realized what I was really afraid of was the unknown, a factor that has been magnified tenfold by the pandemic. However, while the global situation has changed since I first moved, the tactics I used to overcome my doubts remain solid. Instead of focusing on elements outside of your control, think about why you made the decision to make such a big change. What are you working towards? What is it that drives you? How will this transformative decision help you reach your goal? Once you connect the steps ahead of you to your ultimate goal, it will make the unknown variables much less intimidating.
- Set yourself up ahead of time to reach your goals.
I began building my LA network while still living in New York. This allowed me to have a network of connections I could reach out to upon my arrival. Once I secured my Los Angeles apartment ahead of my move, I started applying to open positions and began first round interviews during my last weeks on the east coast. This not only enhanced my confidence in moving, but set me up for multiple interview processes at several entertainment companies once I made it to LA. I had several interviews my first week, including a second-round interview with Lionsgate on my second day in California, which ultimately turned into an accepted job offer after only seven days in my new home. Thus, began my journey working in global film publicity at Lionsgate.
- Utilize social media to make new friends and stay connected to old ones.
My new role combined traditional PR campaigns with digital marketing and influencer capabilities for Lionsgate films. Not only was this my dream job, but it was a perfect amalgamation of all my previous experience. I was eager to get to work and enjoyed getting to know the amazing people in my department as I started working in our office. Unfortunately, Covid-19 had other plans, and after a few weeks of working together in person, we transitioned to work from home. Though necessary for safety measures, this was especially difficult for me, as I had just moved 3,000 miles to a new city all alone and was now without in-person human interaction while being under stay-at-home orders. Naturally, this made meeting new friends difficult, but I promise, it is not hopeless. There are several ways we can remain connected while being apart, and yes, even make new friends in a strange city.
Find groups that appeal to your interests on social media. There are countless groups for anyone from classic film fans, to paranormal podcast enthusiasts, and everything in between. There are even groups for people new to various cities across the country who are looking to make friends. Beyond this, work from home has made people more tech savvy than ever, enabling easier communication via Skype or Zoom with family and friends back home for when homesickness kicks in.
Staying connected to others is so important while we’re all staying home, not just as a reminder that the outside world still exists, but of everything we’ll get to experience once this pandemic is behind us. Remember, you are not alone.
- Always be adaptable.
Unfortunately, as the film industry faced the effects of the pandemic, I was among the thousands of entertainment professionals laid off this winter. After months of endless WebEx and Zoom calls, workplace camaraderie and adapting to the changing film landscape, I felt truly alone for the first time since the pandemic started. Even in a good year, winter is a tough time for job searching in Hollywood, so what could I do now that I was laid off from my dream job? Well, the first step is to process your feelings. Are you sad? Dejected? Unsure of next steps? Those are perfectly normal feelings, but the trick is to not let yourself get worn down.
Now is the time to set yourself up for future success. While it may take some time before job opportunities are available at the rate they were this time last year, there are multiple ways to make sure you’re ready for when you see that posting for the next step in your career. We may not be able to do lunch or invite people to coffee, but you can still reach out to people you admire in your field and request advice or even a quick phone call. Look at past job postings for positions similar to those you’d like to apply for in your future. If there are any skills that you’re missing, now is the time to brush up on them, whether that means learning a new language, or delving into computer programs you’re unfamiliar with. Make sure your resume is ready to go once an opportunity arises to submit it for a job you’d love. Circle back with people in your network and let them know you’re open for work. Add value by staying on top of industry trends and sharing interesting articles on LinkedIn. I’ve actually met more people in LA since being laid off through networking, then I was able to before work from home began.
- Don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen right away.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back from companies for a while. Even if you get interviews that don’t result in job offers. Remember, there are many people looking for jobs at the moment, and even though it may take time to fit your next role, you should never lose hope. I’ve had an interview recently where I was told I was a great candidate, but the position ultimately went to someone with more experience in a specific field. Respectfully asking for feedback is a great way to discover any details you may be able to improve on, and each interview serves as great experience as you progress in your job search. You can always reach out to your interviewer if a similar position opens in the future, demonstrating your work ethic and interest for the company.
- Devote time to other pursuits.
Job searching in a pandemic can be challenging, especially if you have just moved to an unfamiliar city. Though it can be hard, do not let yourself get too preoccupied with worrying about jobs or things that are out of your control. Make sure to spend time doing things that make you happy. If you can do so safely, explore your new surroundings. Walk around and familiarize yourself with your city. Make plans for what you would like to do once things safely open. Spend your extra time learning and enjoying hobbies you’ve never tried before. You might just find a lifelong passion. And as always, remember that this pandemic will not last forever. The sun will always come up and your next opportunity WILL come along. Until then, don’t give up and remember the passion that drives you as you keep moving forward.
I am an entertainment professional who has worked across publicity, digital marketing and social media for iconic global brands. Prior to working at Lionsgate, I interned for a myriad of companies, including Warner Bros. Pictures, PMK BNC, Sunshine Sachs and Intern Queen. I have a passion for film, pop culture, travel and driving innovation for creative pursuits, big and small. I graduated summa cum laude from Kean University with a BA in Communications/Public Relations and I love meeting others throughout my field and beyond.
Don’t be a stranger!