Posts Tagged ‘career’

314799_4865839976057_1080256591_nYour resume must look sharp.  Your job search methods must be fresh, creative, powerful.  You need a prepared list of personal and professional references and a versatile cover letter that can be tweaked for every different type of potential interview.  And you need to network, network, network!  This was just some of the helpful advice doled out this morning by my Jersey Job Club leader, a lovely woman named Cynthia.

What is a Jersey Job Club?  It’s a helpful meeting place for unemployed people living in the Garden State, a “club” where job seekers can go to get ideas, get advice, get encouragement and, of course, network.  I sat through a 90-minute orientation this morning in a drab East Orange building staffed by cheerful and helpful Department of Labor workers and I left feeling better about my chances of winding up back in the workforce.  There were about a dozen other women in the room with me, ranging in age from mid-60s to early 30s and crossing a wide swath of the career and education spectrum.  We had all been downsized by companies looking to save money, stay afloat or just plain go belly up.  We were all frustrated and rather stunned by our current situations and while we may have been a bit depressed and discouraged upon entering the room at 10am, I believe we all left feeling positive and empowered.

Some of the unemployed women in the room had had clerical jobs in nearby schools.  Some had worked in collections.  A few had worked for lawyers or executives.  They had all been employed in what I would consider more “conventional” fields than mine.  For the better part of three decades I have worked as a freelance television stage manager.  It’s never been the kind of job for which you would see a help wanted ad in a newspaper (remember newspapers?), or on a typical electronic job-search bulletin board.  It’s not the sort of position that requires the help of a headhunter.  It’s the kind of job that you somehow manage to get in your 20s, hopefully right out of college, and then maintain and grow through internal networking.  The more you work, the more new job leads you hear.  The different and creative ways that people use to obtain their first jobs in the industry are about as varied and numerous as there are job titles in TV production, from following in a family member’s footsteps to interning or working as a page to DJ-ing a TV station’s Christmas party and asking everyone there to send over the person who hires crew members.  Yeah, that last one, that was my creative path into the land of television.  Smart, right?  Serendipitous, even.  It worked and I had a fabulous 30-year career.

But lately the jobs have been hard to come by.  I worked the Olympic games in London, Vancouver, Beijing and Torino but not earlier this year in Sochi, and I’m still not really sure why.  I’ve had a few freelance gigs here and there, but not enough to live on.  And at the start of this year I thought my troubles were over when I landed a position on the crew of an awesome new cable health and wellness show.  We were supposed to be on the air for at least a year, maybe get picked up for syndication and survive past that projection, but the show was hemorrhaging money and was canceled after eight short months.  So now I’m unemployed again and having a hard time with it.

At the Job Club today we were reminded to stay focused and stay positive.  I have a difficult time with that no matter how much I try.  I asked Alyson Charles, one of the hosts of the show I had most recently been working on, to suggest a few daily affirmations I could say to hopefully keep my mind filled with positive thoughts that would crowd out the feeling of doom and gloom I so often experience in stressful situations.  She happily obliged.  My favorite was, “I am a being of Divine light and love and my purpose here is to embody that through my words, thoughts and actions. And so it is!”  Thanks, Aly.  I have been repeating that every day along with, “Help me please, thank you,” to stay positive and grateful and attract the job I desire.  I have treated my search as a full-time job and I have been networking my butt off.  Friends and colleagues have chimed in with leads and ideas, for which I am so very grateful.  I have looked through old contact numbers and reached out to people I have not heard from in years.  And, meanwhile, I have remained open to the idea of a new career in a similar but different field.  I’m not exactly 21st-century-ready but I’m smart and I learn quickly.

One suggestion the Job Club leader made today was to create something called a visual board.  It’s supposed to be sort of like a poster that you place where you can see it daily and it should contain images that represent your goal.  I told Cynthia and the other women in the room that I have been continuously and frequently changing my profile photos on Facebook and LinkedIn and rotating through older and newer pictures of me working as a stage manager to remind myself, other people and the universe in general what it is that I have done, what it is that I DO, still.  Then I asked if that counted as a visual board.  It does.  But just to make sure, here are some more photos that I send out, with all good intentions, to affirm what it is that I am, what I do, what I want and deserve:

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Thanks for reading this blog post.  If you have any job leads, please let me know!

ImageDespite how down in the dumps it is right now, I have to admit I’ve had a pretty amazing career.  I have been flown all over North America, to Asia, to Europe, been handed business class Acela tickets to D.C. and back, been to the West Wing and the South Lawn of the White House and been backstage at Radio City, The Apollo, Carnegie Hall, The Felt Forum, Madison Square Garden, Orchestra Hall in Detroit, the band shell where they celebrate July 4th by playing the 1812 Overture in Boston and other amazing places that I’m sure I’ve forgotten.  I’ve met and/or worked with almost every celebrity there is.  Some, like Sarah Jessica Parker and George Clooney, remember me and ask me how I am or tell me my haircut looks nice or my Achilles tendon will eventually heal or they just have that sweet movie star smile for me, every time we meet.  Some, like Ehud Barak, tell me jokes and ask me questions about modern American pop culture.  Some, like Andrea Bocelli and Roberto Benigni love it when I speak to them in Italian and tell me my accent is “very very good.”  And some, like Maya Angelou, inspire me and hug me when my awe and appreciation become difficult to disguise.

People who know what I do, or did, since I am currently a stage manager without a show to call my own, ask me all the time what I can reveal about the stars; who are my favorites, who are the real jerks.  That’s easy.  I absolutely adore Susan Sarandon, Liza Minnelli and Al Green.  They are all famous, yes, but also humble and real.  P!nk is a total peach.  Alicia Keys is a sweetie pie.  Celine Dion, even though I’m not a big fan of her music, is one of the funniest women I have ever met.  She came in to a show I was working for a Christmas post-tape and had the entire crew in stitches for hours.  Beyonce Knowles and Sarah McLachlan are pleasures to stage manage.

Barry Bonds is an egotistical jerk.  Curt Schilling is an asshole.  He pushed through a group of kids who were all hoping for an autograph or a high-five and he gave them nothing, not even a smile.  Bill Cosby can go either way, depending on what day you happen to catch him.  Rod Stewart is a high-maintenance pain in the butt.

The biggest freakazoid famous person I have ever met, though, is Mariah Carey.  She has the largest posse in creation.  Her “handlers” are obnoxious idiots.  They actually had me seat her in the interview chair and then asked me to back off, which I did.  They then proceeded to perfectly fine tune her hair, adjust her wardrobe, argue about which way she should cross her ankles and put finishing touches on her makeup.  And then they placed her hands, one on her lap and one on the arm of the chair, exactly how they wanted them and told her not to move any muscle that wasn’t needed to work her mouth while she answered the interviewers questions.  And she actually LET them do all of this to her.  I was thinking, are you kidding me?  Holy smokes, the whole crew breathed a sigh of relief when she and her people were gone.

Maybe once I retire I’ll write a tell-all about my decades in the biz:  Blow jobs in the men’s room, drugs in the green room, celebrities who had to be kept apart because if they saw each other they might try to rip each other’s heads off, musicians with no patience who have walked off stage during rehearsals because the audio department couldn’t quite get their act together, super-models who love M&M’s but would only eat them out of a bowl after all the blue ones had been plucked out, superstars who can’t perform without access to their favorite strawberry soda and young, famous actors who treat their little yip yip dogs better than they treat their managers.  Oh, yes, I could write a book, as the saying goes.  Stage managers know all.