Ask STFU Jezzies 3/3

I am running out of greetings for Ask STFU Jezzies….but, it’s that time again.  I just have one question today, but I think it’s one we can all identify with, so feel free to weigh in!When I graduated film school almost two years ago, I was told by teachers that I was the most promising person in my class and I had a great future ahead of me. A few profs even hooked me up with small jobs, dropped my name to their friends, and acted as mentors. But the economy was tanking hard, most of my contacts moved away, and my leads dried up. I’ve spent the last two years interning a few hours a week and doing odd jobs to help with the bills. Now I’m wondering, at what point does destitution cause me to give up on the dream?

My husband is the breadwinner and so goddamn supportive that he hasn’t once made any snide comments about my unemployment, and when I ask him if I should just try something else, his kindness is a straightjacket that forces him to say little besides, “Whatever you want to do, I’ll support your decision.” But I’m the one who handles the bills and I can tell you this much: we can’t go on any longer just wishing and hoping for a dream job to land in my lap. The cherry on the shit sundae is that I’ve spent the past few months crying every day and counting regrets that go back a decade. I literally have no friends in LA, no support system, and no one to lend a sympathetic ear beyond my husband.

I’m 30, have a worthless BA in social sciences, a film school degree, and almost no “grown-up” work experience. Fuck, I don’t even know how Excel works. Do I keep pressing on? Get another degree in something that might actually yield a legit job? Have an unwanted rugrat I’ll resent just so I have something to do and prove to the world that I’m useful in some capacity? Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.

I know you probably already know this, but your situation is not uncommon.  A lot of my advice is going to be taken from my own experience so, you know, grain of salt and do what feels right for yu and all that.  But I am in a similar situation right now.  I sometimes regret my career choice  (and yes go back to: well what if such and such hadn’t happened in 2001, would things be better now?? Don’t matter. Can’t change it), I’m saddled with a substantial student loan debt for a degree I’m not using, and I don’t know if I should go back to school, suck it up and do a job I want or yes, even have a baby we’re not prepared for just so I have something to do.  

First off: Going back to school.  I have considered this myself, but since very few people have the means to pay for college or grad school out of pocket, this means saddling yourself with tens of thousands of (additional) dollars in student loan debt with still no guarantee that you’ll find work or end up doing what you want.  Unless going back to school is part of your dream or you feel confident that you’re making the right choice, I’d say no. But! If you live near a community college they always have classes on how to learn office skills like Excel and they’re usually pretty affordable.  If you can afford to sign up for one or two classes, that might be worth it.  Then you would be qualified for a larger number of temp jobs and could possibly get a temp job that helps with the bills a little more.  The other benefits of signing up for a class are that you can network a little or maybe make a friend who is in a similar situation.  One of the worst parts of unemployment is the isolation, getting out and meeting people can go a long ways.

You graduated film school at an exceptionally unfortunate time to be entering the workforce.  If this were a time when the economy didn’t blow I might say that you should rethink what you’re doing if you’re not getting work. But no one is getting work.  I don’t know how the film world works, but I’m assuming it’s not really booming either.  We probably won’t be in a recession forever….right? RIGHT?!?! So it has to get better and something will come along.

In conclusion, try to get some skills to get some steadier work.  I think it will go a long ways towards relieving your stress and loneliness.  Network, reach out to those teachers who thought you had so much promise, if you haven’t already.  Don’t give up on  your dreams just yet! Good luck!

That’s it for today’s STFU Jezzies.  Do you have any more tips for this reader? Put ’em in the comments! And remember to submit your life questions to Ask STFU Jezzies.  See you next week!

4 replies on “Ask STFU Jezzies 3/3”

Have you considered looking for work in semi-related fields, like A/V equipment rental houses? There are a lot of places that not only rent out equipment, but also provide people to take video and then edit the footage into a decent memory video or promo or whatever. It’s not film making, but it could take off some of the money pressure and I can guarantee you will meet more people who are looking to get into the industry.

Don’t have a kid just because you’re bored. If you’re broke and at the end of your rope now, imagine how bad it will be with an added financial burden running on very little sleep. (That is to say, have a kid because you want a kid, don’t have a kid because you don’t know what else to do.)

In addition to using community college as a resource, you should look into local workforce development centers. They often offer similar computer training seminars on the cheap (sometimes free!), resume building assistance, networking opportunities, etc. It might be something to keep you on your feet if you decide you want to continue pursuing your dream job.

What did you study in film school? Are you trying to be a director, writer, editor, what? I heard a story on my local public radio affiliate the other day about a guy putting together an independent film that he wrote and is directing himself using funding from a site called If it really is your dream to make a movie, maybe you should just go for it and try to make a start of it instead of trying to find jobs with other people’s movies. Everybody’s got to start somewhere. I’m sure it’s probably much harder in LA than other places with less competition where the production costs are cheaper. But if it’s your dream and you want to do it, you should put yourself out there and go for it.

There’s no use in counting your regrets. It’s a really easy thing to fall into. I get it. But look forward. Do you think you could be happy with another job, or would you always wonder what if? Do you feel like you gave this path a good enough chance and it’s over, or do you think there’s more you can do with it? You don’t want to take on a job as a temp or a secretary and look back twenty years from now with a different kind of regret. Although, in fairness, those kinds of jobs give you free time to pursue a passion on the side. If your goal is to be able to do the things you love, does it matter if you get your paycheck from something else?

It’s a tough decision, and I guess that after writing all of this I realize that I have not been helpful at all. So… erm… good luck!

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