All who wander are not lost. I hope.
July 12, 2011 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm a depressed not-incredibly-recent college grad with less than a year's experience under my belt and I'm still clueless. More snowflake-y annoying first world problems inside.

Hi, metafilter. It's me again. I wrote a question here about 10 months ago about what to do after a terrible college experience, and you all were tremendously helpful, so here goes again.

After about two months into my nonprofit internship, I landed a job as a at a small startup. Things were going great--I liked my job, the place was fun, relaxed, and casual, and I got to write. Certainly I wasn't making a ton of money, but it was fine for what it was. I even met a couple of great friends there.

Then things got bad. I (stupidly) got involved with a co-worker, and it turns out I fell a bit harder than I thought. It ended (of course) awkwardly, my depression came creeping back, and I quit my job without another one lined up.

To be honest, I had been searching for another job in The City for a few weeks before I up and quit without a plan, but I guess everything just became too much to handle. (I live in the suburbs with my parents, and I was dying for the urban life.)

Um. So here I am, back at square one, living with my parents. Broke. I have little discipline with money; I think that, growing up low-income, all of a sudden having a cash flow (with not many other bills to pay other than my student loans) made me go stupid crazy with material lust. This is a stupid and shallow concern, I know. I wasn't ever like this before. I guess I thought I was getting better, but impulse shopping and drinking should have been my warning signs.

The only thing I know right now is that I want to continue to write, and now I have a bit of marketing copywriting experience under my belt.
I did finally start seeing a CBT therapist, which has been helpful in terms of quieting my negative self-talk, at least a bit.

Um. I guess my question is, what should I do now? How can I get myself to Los Angeles doing something at least tangentially related to what I want to do?

I'm also not terribly fond of the marketing world, although there's a bit of an overlap with the things I really want to do. I want to be a journalist (for the web)/PR person for nonprofits, and a screenwriter, primarily, but my lack of clips is hurting me. I'm continuing to apply for entry-level marketing jobs because there are a ton of them in this city and I at least have the very basic skillset, but a part of me is afraid that I'll get stuck in that industry and never get to pursue my dreams. Moreover, it looks like most of these places are looking for interns that are willing to slave away for a few months before (possibly) being hired, and I'm not sure how worth it it would be to intern for a theoretical day job in an industry I'm not passionate about (but that makes a decent second option, I suppose).

I don't even know if that makes sense.

Erm. So I'm basically sending out millions of resumes every day to marketing companies. I also sent an email to an amazing digital news agency that I would kill to intern for (I talked to them late last year and got a great response but I had to work...) in the hopes that I could get experience (and maybe even a job with them) that way. The long commute would even be worth it.

So I guess what I'm asking is...should I try to find a full-time marketing job and do the passion projects on the side, or try to intern in a field I'm passionate about and find part-time work in the meantime? Will that look terrible on my resume considering I quit my full-time job after 10 months? Should I consider graduate school in journalism if I really want to make the switch with little experience?

I'm thinking of teaching myself some digital skills and starting a blog, learning how to pitch to web magazines, joining a writer's group, getting some more marketing copy under my belt, etc. I guess basically diversifying my portfolio. I'm still freelancing for my old job for a while, so there a bit of income still coming in. I'd like more freelance work from other agencies while I figure things out. Is there anything else I should be doing?

Oh, and if anyone happened to click on the above link, I still really, really want to travel and live abroad at some point, but I decided to wait because I have some lingering medical issues (besides depression) that I want nipped in the bud while I'm still here (and can still legally use my parents' insurance). Are there things I can do to satiate my hunger for long-term travel in the meantime? Any weeklong expedition type of things that I can save money for?

My parents are supportive during this exploratory period, which is great. I just feel like a bit of a bum with a case of the first-world-problem blues, is all. I must sound like a total scatterbrain overanalytical fool.

Anyway, if you've read this far...I could really use your help. Thanks.
posted by themaskedwonder to Work & Money (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I want to be a journalist (for the web)/PR person for nonprofits, and a screenwriter, primarily, but my lack of clips is hurting me.

Start a blog TODAY and start writing one post EVERY DAY about whatever topic interests you that particular day. Work on every post like you would a paid assignment. Et voila: after two months, you'll have clips, and something online to show prospective employers of your capabilities.
posted by lia at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Starting a blog is a good start, not just so you can show off your design skills and your recent writing samples to employers, but also because it can help bring structure to the often listless world of unemployment.

The other thing is that when looking for work, remember that sometimes work is just what you do so you can afford what you actually do. It's not ideal, but there's no shame in it.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:54 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

How can I get myself to Los Angeles doing something at least tangentially related to what I want to do?

According to your profile, you live in MA. Is there a reason you want to go to LA specifically and not NYC? I'm asking because it is a lot easier to be broke and starting out in NYC, where you don't need a car, distances between things are small (so you can devote time to whatever instead of commutting two hours each way), and you can share a loft with six people for a few hundred a month.
posted by griphus at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: @griphus

Oops! I was in Massachusetts for college about a year ago, and then I moved to California to live my dad. I just forgot to update my profile--just changed it.

I did consider NYC right after I graduated (in fact in was my top choice) but moved in with my parents due to lack of job offers. I've also grown to really like LA, and it's a great place to meet other screenwriters.
posted by themaskedwonder at 12:04 PM on July 12, 2011

For cheap travel options, consider WWOOF.

Previous question regarding doing marketing volunteer work that would look good on a resume.
posted by brainwane at 12:29 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

As long as it's going to be an exploratory period, what about doing some informational interviewing?

Back when I was in a similar situation to you, I called up people who did what I thought I wanted to do, asked if I could talk to them for about 10-20 minutes about their jobs, and lined up a time to meet at their office, which was usually most convenient for them.

I didn't ask for a job or if they knew of any, I just told them I was doing career research, asked about the pros and cons of their career choice, what they spend most of their time doing, that sort of stuff.

This gave me a HUGE boost for a few reasons:

1. Hearing someone who has a great job turn the discussion around and say, "you know what, you'd be a good fit for career X, talk to so-and-so" is like getting a big hug. It's a career lead, even if it's not a job lead.

2. Having a career you thought was a GREAT fit turn into an instant no-good because you just learned more about it is a wonderful feeling, like you've been spared from having to drive off the side of a bridge.

3. Being away from the Internet and around actual working people is where you should be now. The more time you spend around working people doing whatever, the more likely you are to get a job.

4. Being told "yes, this career is a great fit, now here's what you should do next" is like finding an insta-mentor.

At the end of the meeting, if it went OK, you can just say, "do you mind if I keep in touch?" And of course they'll be flattered.

As long as you do it with purpose, you'll find lots of random strangers who really care about you and your career.

Good luck!
posted by circular at 2:20 PM on July 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

Why not move to LA and get some job? Any job? Wait tables, tend bar, pour coffee, temp, fold sweaters at Banana Republic, whatever. The career will come later - you don't sound particularly convinced about any of your potential career paths (aside from "writing", and you don't have to be an ad copywriter or whatever to do that).

This is how I moved to New York (during college, incindentally). I just... did it. Then, later, I had the ability to make connections and answer the What Am I Doing With My Life question in a way that wasn't all tangled up in What City Should I Live In or What Kind Of Lifestyle Do I Want To Have.
posted by Sara C. at 4:20 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

The only way to be a screenwriter is to write scripts. Read all the blogs--John August , Jane Espenson, etc. You can blog, you can possibly write for Patch, etc., and you can explore nearly every culture in the world in LA County.
Sending out random resumes is largely a crap shoot. Can you intern? Do you have any useful skills? Personally, I'd take any job just to get out of the house--babysitting, dogwalking, etc.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:40 PM on July 12, 2011

I work at a nonprofit in fundraising. My organization is large, but we do not have a marketing department; I manage our newsletter, annual report, website, communications pieces, etc.

Many nonprofits do not have a full marketing/PR department. The ones that I know of that do are very large and tend to be "patron service" organizations, i.e. ones that sell tickets or goods like museums, theaters, etc. What kind of nonprofits are you interested in?

If you would rather be at a "do gooder" type of NFP, like a social service agency, your best bet is honestly to get a fundraising job. There's tons of overlap between fundraising and marketing/communications for NFPs, so you'd likely get a chance to hone your skills, and could eventually transition to a larger organization with a full marketing department. Most entry-level development jobs are labeled as "Development Associate" positions. There's more competition for them now than there was a few years ago, but someone with your background is definitely appealing. Fundraisers love marketing people because they tell them how to sell their organization's story even better and get more donations in the process.
posted by anotheraccount at 1:13 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

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