How have I never told you guys that I had 20 jobs in 7 years time pre-2007. 20 jobs! In 7 years! Part of the job-hopping was because I was doing actor-friendly, freelance-y things…and part of it was because I was a Renaissance Soul and, once I got comfy somewhere, I got bored and wanted a new adventure…and part of it was because I was in sales and sometimes it cost me more to stay put than jump ship…but no matter – it’s all part of my story, and on the cusp of my 3rd Entrepreneuriversary (it’s March 19th!), I just have to share it with you.
Shall we set the stage? First, my 2000-2002 jobs, which I had to solely to support my auditioning habit. Just writing this makes me exhausted:
- administering temporary tattoos at parties and events, some as far away as Deep New Jersey until 3am (it was a “safe” prom, whatever that means). Oh, I’d get a private car back to the city, which sounds all “ooh la la” until the driver starts falling asleep and you have to talk to him non-stop to make sure he won’t doze off and kill you.
- dressing up as a human 1-800-FLOWERS gift box, complete with a big cardboard rectangle made to look like a box top resting on my head via a chin string, and live flowers tickling my nose that were made to look like they were coming out of the box. The whole contraption weighed about 50 pounds and had to be hoisted over my head to rest solely on my shoulders – literally. And did I mention that this always happened for the holidays, and I had to be outside The Today Show at 5am in the dead of winter to hope to get on camera for free advertising? Yes, I prayed that (a) I would never get on camera, and (b) nobody from high school was watching. I did wind up on camera and talking for more than a minute about the 1-800-FLOWERS promotion (despite the PR women that appeared on either side of me), but thankfully it was on CBS This Morning and nobody watches that. Also, it was pre-You Tube.
- restaurant hostess, waitress, and office manager. I came to the conclusion that if I had to wait tables to pursue acting, I’d, um, rather not pursue acting.
- bookkeeper of sorts for a leading casting office. I would take the receipts that needed to be expensed to the shows they were casting, add ‘em up and invoice the client. For some reason, it didn’t matter that my math was off, and often.
- staffed at will call for Universal Studios movie premieres in NYC, and then being deemed “security” at the after-party. Oh yes, nobody was going to get past me if they wanted to crash Hugh Grant’s table at the “Love, Actually” party. OK, this was the best gig by far, especially when your work was done and you could loiter/eat/drink (in the VIP section!) at the after-party all you wanted! It’s pretty fun to get paid to gawk at Brad Pitt and eat free cocktail shrimp by the fistful. I still do this from time to time.
- apartment shower (show-er, like one who shows; not shower, like something that helps you get clean) for some high-end, hoity-toity luxury buildings in Tribeca and the Financial District of New York City. It was fun to show off apartments whose prices started at four times more than mine (please note sarcasm). It was doubly fun to show them to 22 year olds who were just out of college and getting offers for $75K + bonuses on Wall Street (please note double sarcasm). That worked well, honestly, until 9/11. One of the buildings I worked at was about 4 blocks from Ground Zero, and unbelievably, it was open for the residents to move back into a short week after the tragedy. The owners were too chicken to man the phones and address the resident’s concerns themselves, so they had us 20-something showers making $100/day do it for them. Not only did I have to see the trucks go by the street-level window carrying still-smoldering steel piles straight from the towers and get yelled at on the phone all day, but I could see the site via an aerial view from the resident’s roof deck. I was physically and emotionally sick going down there every day, and gave my notice within two weeks of being back.
- being a “character” (that means one of those life-size suits, like when you see Mickey Mouse at Disney World) at an annual holiday party for a huge pharmaceutical company. I stood in one spot and had to see small children through a one-inch eye hole and try not to step on them, since I couldn’t put my “head” down to see them to begin with. After two years, I realized no amount of money could possibly make me do that ever again.
- a hawker for “Boobs! The Musical!” outside the tkts booth in Times Square, which is where people line-up for same-day discount tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Not only was it the middle of summer and being out in the sun for hours on end probably gave me eternal skin damage, but I got to yell about boobs to whoever was in earshot. While I was told that the most tickets were sold during one of my shifts, I got fired within a month because someone was offended by me and complained. I don’t remember making any X-Rated remarks, but hey – the show was called, “Boobs! The Musical!” What did they expect me to say?!
- the paid performance-related gigs I got during that time were singer on a cruise ship, extra for Saturday Night Live, and the lead in a musical in Key West.
Jan-Aug 2003: receptionist at high-end, hoity-toity, luxury Pilates studio. Oh yes, I checked in Christy Turlington and only took them up on 1 free class. The $12/hour didn’t exactly cut it, and the super-cool-kids aspect of Pilates was lost on me.
July 2003-Oct 2005: real estate agent. Since I was a really good apartment shower (if I do say so myself) I figured, “If they can get commission, so can I!” It was the summer of 2003 and I was 25 (still not a “grown-up” quite yet), and figured I could keep myself open for gigs and auditions since it was a commission-only job – I felt like I had nothing to lose, and somehow, it worked for me. I was the Number 1 agent in an office of 30 the first full month I was there, and had that spot five more times within a year. My split went up to 50% and then an unprecedented 55% when I threatened to leave, and I trained new agents and handled an exclusive account. Sure, my phone rang 24/7 and I was working 6-7 days/week, but the $50,000 I made that year made up for it. At that point, the auditioning was sporadic at best, since real estate – which I got into because it seemed like the perfect fit around the actor’s life – became my life. The turning point? My live-in boyfriend broke up with me, which led to my rent almost tripling (no, I didn’t wanna live with roommates at the ripe old age of 27, thankyouverymuch), which led me to moving into sales (which I figured would make me more money)…and spent months not making a dime. I had to borrow rent from my parents, ate lonely slices of pizza for lunch (only $1.50!) for weeks on end, and had nights out on American Express to the tune of about $20,000 in debt* (like I was staying home when I was single and lived on my own in Manhattan!?). I had to get an income, and how.
Nov 2005-May 2006: Sales Assistant for a windowposter company. A “cool” place that had 2 full-time employees + the owner – and I was the first salesperson. I shoulda proceeded with caution, but I was thrilled to get a sales job with a base salary that would allow me to use the relationship-building skills I perfected in real estate. I left because the training was nil, the salary was too low at the start, the owner was prone to cursing at the top of his lungs and punching things, and the promotions I was in charge of obtaining in new markets were coming in at a crawl no matter how much pavement-pounding I did.
May-Sept 2006: Sales Assistant for a poster advertising company. Yeah, this didn’t last long. The company itself was going through lots of internal changes, and it was impossible for newbies to get accounts. This totally disillusioned me from sales, and I became desperate for a livable salary and “grown-up benefits” like health insurance (imagine that!).
Sept 2006-July 2007: An Account Manager at a small company that built private social networking websites for colleges. It was a laid-back, “cool” company with an office in Noho and employees in sneakers, and my manager had a large smile, a big laugh and a friendly vibe. I took the job right away, along with a $10,000 salary increase, no sales pressure, and – finally – insurance. I was A Grown-Up at last. Or so I thought. After the initial new job smell wore off, I realized I was – gasp! – at another day job. No, I wasn’t outside at 5am in the dead of winter dressed as a gift box, but I was stuck in another job that wasn’t even close to being anything I could be passionate about, and to me that equated to a “day job”. The manager who hired me – the one who smiled and laughed often during my interview, who seemed friendly and nice and outgoing – wound up being a verbally abusive bully, obviously threatened by anyone in his near vicinity that did a good job. My clients loved me and I knew I was doing good work, and I had allies in the form of my colleagues and my immediate manager, but I would wake up each day with a pit in my stomach, wondering what Greg The Goon had in store for me that day. Crying before, after, and during work hours became the norm, especially since the abuse stretched to nights and weekends because of pointless traveling and the expectation that I be available via company BlackBerry 24/7. I finally got the guts to leave, and I jumped into another sales position because I was so desperate.
July-Aug 2007: IT recruiter. Yeah, I lasted at this job for about 2 weeks cold calling to get accounts (I’m convinced that cold calling is what they make you do in hell) until I had a What Am I Doing moment and put the pedal to the medal in getting a non-sales job. I almost got fired thanks to all the “doctors appointments” I had, but by then I got snatched up by a financial consulting company (thanks to one of the many headhunters I met) and I was out the door.
Aug 2007-Mar 2010: Executive Assistant at financial consulting company. Yup. This was The Job I Needed To Launch My Dream. The summer of 2007 is when I took my Career Change course through NYU and found life coaching. I knew I’d fall flat on my face if I launched it right away, so I found a day job that was strict 9a-6p (no overtime, ’cause they paid ya time-and-a-half for it) with no Blackberry and no travel. While some of the Directors I supported (and some of my colleagues!) were less than kind, it got me where I needed it to – able to get certified, build up my business and become The When I Grow Up Coach full-time.
Mar 19, 2010-Present: The When I Grow Up Coach. I didn’t have to go to another job once. Not once. Not part-time, not temp, not freelance…nada. And while I can say I was “lucky”, I’d be BSing you. I was smart about my situation, I was pro-active, I was optimistic, I was working my butt off…and now I’m here to stay.
Have any questions for me? Anything in particular that you’re struggling with in regards to changing careers that I can help with? Leave it in the comments below, and don’t forget to sign up for my VIP List here to get updated with how I’m celebratin’ my 3rd Entrepreneuriversary. I don’t have the deets yet, but it’ll be the funnest!
*I paid off my credit card debt in 2011. Feels oh-so-good.