I just got a PA job at a cable TV channel. I’m the only PA for a very small department composed of about eight producers and an EP. I know most people wouldn’t/shouldn’t complain about this, but they’re not giving me enough stuff to do and its weirding me out. They don’t have me answering phones or getting coffee, mainly I was hired for research, finding broll for packages on the server, transcribing, and running some minor errands… I’d say in an 8 hour day they only give me about two hours worth of work, and that’s on a good day. They say my work is great, but they do so much work on their own I’m not left with much… I’m scared that my bosses think I’m slacking off and getting paid to do nothing i.e. getting a bad impression of me. But I really want to work! I just need something to work ON. Is this normal? What should I do?
This is typical. It sucks, but its typical. Thats where 23.8% of rage comics come from (citation needed).
Even when I once worked on one of the biggest budgeted movies of the year, it was always “hurry up and wait”. Actually, “hurry up and wait” is a very common mantra around these parts, so much so it should be a t-shirt of some kind (announcing the TAPA shop in 3…2…) So in these situations, best to just stay calm. Ask the bosses once in a while for work. If they say there is none, then… yeah, there is none. Also keep in mind that some people are just inefficient delegators. The best bosses know how to spread out their work, but sometimes you get a micromanaging type that just has to do everything themselves, for the better or worse of the project…
It’s a judgement call, whether you’re a paper pusher for a pharmaceutical company or a render manager at an FX house, as to whether the job works for you personally. If there is little work to do and you’re not learning anything, why are you there? Paycheck? Contacts? Assess the situation for your personal goals. Maybe it just isn’t the right environment for you. I withered at that “big movie” I previously mentioned because I knew myself as a productive, fast mover who works best under pressure. A job with three hours of work and nine hours of Reddit just wasn’t for me.
You’re probably not doing anything wrong. Sometimes there really isn’t anything to do, but that doesn’t mean that job is all there is to life.