A reader asks:
I am currently working as a receptionist at a post production house in Hollywood. I took this job not too long ago, assuming that as this place is fairly renowned, it would eventually provide me with the opportunity to move on in the business toward some of my real interests: script development and/or production coordinating. Having been here for a chunk of time now, I am realizing that not only will this job not propel me toward anything related to what I want to do, as they deal mostly in graphics, but it also requires that I sit at a desk for 10 hours a day waiting for the few phone calls that inevitably die off before mid-afternoon.
I realize that I am complaining while I am in a situation where I receive a steady decent-sized paycheck. This is hard to come by in the current economic situation and I am well aware of how blessed I am to have obtained this position.
I have been offered two unpaid internships with well-known, established production companies, one of them on a studio lot, one of them with two well known tv shows and major feature films in development. I’ve done an internship before and know what the work there entails. I just want to make sure that these internships will at least have the potential to open doors for me to begin working in something I am actually passionate about.
I will get to the point: do I leave my solid, boring, unproductive job to pursue more meaningful and interesting (and also unpaid) work, or do I stick it out here and wait for a paid opportunity to waltz along and save me from my misery?
As I’ve said before, it’s almost impossible to get anywhere in this business without taking a risk. But the question is, what are you risking?
How long can you sustain yourself as an intern? Are you independently wealthy? Are your parents footing the bill? Your spouse? This is probably not a good time to be eating into your savings.
Another way of looking at it is, most people are out of work now, anyway. If you’d been just a little less lucky, your only question right now would be, “Which internship should I take?” (The one on the lot, by the way; practically everybody has a show “in development.” Who knows if that’s for real?)
If you can sustain yourself–or be sustained by someone–I’d suggest jumping ship. If not, wait until the economy, or your own personal finances, improve.