----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: My Twisted Career Path

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Friday, March 11, 2005

My Twisted Career Path

Someone posted a question on the MediaBistro bulletin boards asking us journalists how we arrived at our present rung on the career ladder. I thought the question was a good one, so I decided to post my own tumultous journey here. Isn't there some study that says the average American will hold something like seven jobs in his or her lifetime? Ha! I held nearly seven part-time jobs at once! (See the "My Many Jobs" post, parts one and two.)

Anyway, I hope that my career path, twisted as it is with detours, gives hope to those who didn't start doing journalism internships from the moment they were eligible for a work permit. I mean, it's great to be focused, but you can succeed, even if you take the long way around. And besides, having a wide variety of jobs is so broadening!

The prequel: I wanted to take drama as my elective in my sophomore year of high school, but it conflicted with honors English, so I wound up in the yearbook class. And that knocked over the first domino...

1) As I was about to graduate from college withEnglish degree, I got tired of telling everyone tha tno, I didn't plan to teach. Had been admitted to Northwestern's undergrad j-school, so when they sent me a letter asking if I'd be interested in their graduate program, I figured I could tough out one winter in Chicago. Before being admitted, work as editorial assistant at weekly business newspaper.

2) Started j-school grad program. Loved it (partly because I just love being a student). Built up clips.

3) Graduated during tail end of dot.com boom, but did not take a dot.com job. Got an associate editor position at a start-up trade magazine in Malibu.

4) Start-up magazine didn't start. I was shifted to another title, but I decided to leave for the more"glamorous" world of entertainment PR.

5) Lasted exactly one week at PR job. Was naively unaware of the fact that "assistant" was code for fetching boss's lunch and FedExing packages. Actually believed HR when they told me that I was hired for my writing skills.

6) Since I was in L.A., decided to do somethingtotally original--become an actress!

7) Take acting class, get headshots, get extra work, get five simultaneous part-time jobs. Quickly run outof money and run up huge credit card debt.

8) Move home to NorCal and work as substitute teacher while attempting to pay off debt.

9) Move back to L.A. Freelance, work for crazy lady, and ultimately take a job tangential to journalism.

10) Get cancer. Move home AGAIN.

11) Finish treatment. Move back to L.A. Hired as copyeditor at national magazine, despite my quarter-inchbuzz cut.

12) After a year, magazine is in trouble and editor tells me there is no room for advancement. Sick of L.A., fiance and I move back to NorCal, where fiance has design job.

13) Decide to try acting again. Work as substitute teacher and freelance writer and copy editor while looking for acting work and/or real job. Get married--yay!--but planning a wedding is a job in itself.

14) Find real job, to start after honeymoon. Again,believe bosses when they tell me I have been hired to write. Again, it is a lie. When I vent my frustrations to blog, I am fired.

15) Concentrate on acting while looking for new job.

16) Interview for position as editor of trade magazine. Am hired, and finally will be making more than I did at my first job out of j-school!

17) After I accept full-time job offer, I get aninterview with a talent agent. O happy day! They want to represent me!

18) A happy ending? My "real" job is fairly interesting and pays well. And my acting career could start to take off now that I have representation.What's next? To be determined...

Hey, sometimes a career path that twists and turns is more interesting than a strictly linear one.


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