Krista writes in:
I am about to graduate high school and was searching for possible internships and PA jobs I could do over the summer before I head off to college. I found a small company whose website said that most positions would be paid but some might not because they’re on a small budget, which I think translates to pa’s being unpaid.
I have taken film classes in high school, but pretty much have no real world experience so I figure something is better than nothing. In the application they ask for your day rate, and I’m not sure what to say. Should I put I’ll work for zero? Should I put an actual number like fifty? Or should I just get a normal people job for now and wait until I’m in college?
Please take this in the spirit in which it’s intended: you’re worthless.
Not worthless as a human being. You have the same incalculable value as every other person on the planet.
But you’re worthless as a PA. You have no experience and no skills. And that’s fine! We all started out that way.
And this is why you’re looking for your first job. In fact, kudos to you for being so ambitious as to look for work before you even enter college! That’s moxie.
But again, initiative isn’t enough. You’re competing for jobs with people who have initiative, skill, and experience. But there is one way you can compete: price.
A free intern with initiative is a net positive for the company. And you’ll be getting something out of it, as well. Not money, sadly, but experience and skills. You’ll then take those experiences and skills to the next job, and you’ll be in a position to ask for money in exchange. See how that works?
Now, you can’t only offer a lower price, since by working for free, you’ve hit the bottom. There are other people out there who want to intern, as well.
This is where intangibles come in. Even though you are working for free, you can’t be a jerk. You must be punctual. It helps to be good looking.1 Dress for the job you’re applying to. Be courteous. Be friendly.
There’s a whole bunch of factors that are out of your control. What’s charming and fun to one person may be annoying and insubordinate to another.
Those are things you can’t help, which is why you need to apply to a whole bunch of places, even when you’re willing to work for free. Hollywood is fickle. Don’t put all your hope eggs in one show’s basket. Apply to many companies, many shows.
Someone is going to recognize that an ambitious 18-year-old intern is probably more valuable than a burnt-out 33-year-old PA.
- Hey, this is Hollywood! Even our assistants should be glamorous.↩