Finding quick work in LA, economy notwithstanding.
October 31, 2011 1:15 PM   Subscribe

My brother will work for food. He's coming from a tough situation to visit me in LA for just a few weeks at most, and he needs to find some immediate work, even if it's just a few dollars a day. Are there any options for him?

The main thing is that he just needs to build some confidence and some practice that he really can do this sort of thing. He is brilliant, gifted, and smart, but doesn't have experience or qualifications right now, but more importantly, doesn't have the motivation or the hope. I'm basically putting him through a little boot camp, and part of the program is that he needs to "work" every day. If we can't find money making work for him, I'm going to have him volunteer somewhere, but if he can get paid a little, even if it's barely enough to buy his food for the day, it would be a vast confidence boost for him. I'm literally thinking of having him stand on the corner of the street with a cardboard sign that says "I need work, not spare change" and a stack resumes in his bag.

But I do think there have to be some sort of jobs that can be started immediately and that don't require longer commitment. Someone said that signature-collectors get a dollar per signature. That is the sort of thing I'm looking for: something that can start this week and end in two or four weeks.
posted by brenton to Work & Money (25 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What about temp work? Manpower and companies like them seem like they'd suit ideally.
posted by jquinby at 1:18 PM on October 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

I agree temp agencies make sense, particularly the ones focused on construction- Labor Ready for example. (This is assuming he is in decent shape physically and has or can get steel-toed boots.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:24 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Also, this might not be what you had it mind, but it is possible to get paid to be in the studio audiences of TV shows. It's by no means easy- very long hours of waiting around for every little money- but it is a thing people do.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:26 PM on October 31, 2011

Retailers are hiring Christmas help. Also, check craigslist under part-time - there are often temp jobs there. Caterers and staffing companies that do banquets need servers, waitstaff, food prep, etc. It's usually nights and weekends.
posted by shoesietart at 1:28 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's also this, but again, this work is probably really physical stuff.
posted by jquinby at 1:28 PM on October 31, 2011

Ok I understand that he doesn't have any experience or qualifications but does he have any skills? If he does we could have a better idea of where he should go.
posted by boobjob at 1:29 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

How about background work?
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:31 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: > Ok I understand that he doesn't have any experience or qualifications but does he have any skills? If he does we could have a better idea of where he should go.

He's a great actor. He loves being the center of attention. I think he'd be good interacting with people. He is also a musician, plays guitar, piano, sings and composes beautifully. He is interested in language and phonetics: he's created his own phonetic alphabet and put hours into designing his own language (hey, at least he isn't translating the Bible into Klingon). He's nerdy and awkward and friendly and personable and authentic.

On his resume right now are the following three positions: Jr. Camp Counselor, Assistant Custodian, and Barista Intern. Here are a few more things that show up on his resume: (identifying details removed)

• Vice-President of the _____ University Drama Club (2010)
• President of the _____ University Drama Club (2011).
• Performed in choir tours at New York City, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle for High School and College.
• Extensive performance experience in numerous specialty choirs and lead roles in several theatre productions and musicals.
• Volunteered for a riverbank cleanup project, 2009.
• Helped organize and participated in a comedy night fundraiser for a missions trip to Africa, 2011. Demonstrated charisma, leadership skills and tact.

That last item there probably is the most impressive thing on his resume, I didn't attend but hear it really was a great success and he actually did a lot bringing it together and making it work. He has a lot of potential, I could see him doing anything. He just doesn't have many particular hobbies or activities that clearly lead into anything.
posted by brenton at 1:52 PM on October 31, 2011

This is what Americorps is for.
posted by fshgrl at 2:07 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Maybe he could volunteer at a soup kitchen and get a meal in the process?
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:07 PM on October 31, 2011

Busking! It's really awkward and uncomfortable at first, but you can make decent money standing out in a busy thoroughfare with an open guitar case and an unapologetic conviction that your music is making peoples' day better, and build the crap out of your confidence while you're at it.

A friend of mine dresses up funny and plays the trumpet in Central Park, and he has a sign that says "A picture is worth a thousand words $1." It gets laughs, and also dollars.

If he's doing it in a area with lots of foot traffic, he really only needs two or three songs to start with, and maybe a special number that he pull out if he notices someone sticking around for all three, or if they drop a 10 or 20 in his bucket.
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:08 PM on October 31, 2011

Note that most of LA is zoned, licensed, paperworked, and otherwise revenue-generating even from buskers. A ticket for not having the appropriate street-performing license would be unproductive.

And Americorps is not for a few weeks, it's a more substantial commitment.

But there are volunteer opportunities, and some of them might even be performance-oriented. Unfortunately, a lot of those probably involve working with children, which you can't do anymore without a background check, which aren't free, and so are not going to be used for transient volunteers.

It's not really your job to get him a job (because that's not going to teach him anything about getting a job), but under the circumstances your best best is to network the hell out of your personal local network and find someone who can get him some kind of seasonal work folding shirts or catering or power-washing someone's grandma's driveway. A little heavy lifting, work that feels like you've done a day's work, might be especially good for him at this point in his life.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:25 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Search craisglist jobs for the word "seasonal." Just now, I saw a helper for the ice rink downtown, christmas tree lot, candy wrapper, Nike store, etc.
posted by biscuits at 2:32 PM on October 31, 2011

Response by poster: > It's not really your job to get him a job (because that's not going to teach him anything about getting a job) ... A little heavy lifting, work that feels like you've done a day's work, might be especially good for him at this point in his life.

I totally agree. This is more about getting him a good kick in the pants to get started on his own. He's going back home at the end of this and he's going to be totally on his own to find a job. I'm going to be giving him a lot of advice and job-seeking help, but I think it's also totally necessary that he does something every day and feels productive, and gets the sense that it's possible to find stuff to do.

Also, thanks jquinby, for the link to the day-laborer program. It would be incredible if he could find a few days of $6/hr work, and would teach him a lot about how valuable having a job really is and how lucky he is to be a citizen legally able to work here, and how much easier it would be to seriously look for a job than to stand around every day waiting for work to come.
posted by brenton at 2:39 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have known people who have washed trucks for FedEx before (not in LA though). From what I remember it's night shift type work, requires no special skills or previous experience, and could be pretty easy to get. You may have to call around to find out if there is a FexEx distribution center or big station nearby. You can also check with UPS to see if they have that option.

You never think about how their trucks get washed, but there you go.
posted by MultiFaceted at 3:35 PM on October 31, 2011

There's no background work=--there's very few films in production in or around LA now. Check the trades.

And with all due respect--your average white guy standing around with the Latino day laborers isn't like to get work, nor be encouraged by the other guys, most of whom work in small crews.

Craigslist is usually the best bet, and I think retail is his best chance.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:35 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is your brother actively lamenting his lack of a job, or is he keen on being without one? I'm trying to understand if his inability to hold down a job = pathological/rooted in depression/him being contrary, or due to bad luck.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:12 PM on October 31, 2011

It's coming on holiday season. Loading trucks for UPS or FedEx ground will be backbreaking part-time work that pays decently. Given the unemployment rate it may be hard to get the job, so inquire soon. Helps if you're pretty strong.
posted by spitbull at 6:59 PM on October 31, 2011

Response by poster: > Is your brother actively lamenting his lack of a job, or is he keen on being without one?

He's just stuck in the cycle of video games, late nights, sleeping all day, no exercise, and just staying home with the parents and feeling useless and not knowing what to do. A lot of that will be fixed by him getting up and moving and getting away from video games. He is pretty motivated right now, but he has a really tough time following through with things. He just has no discipline at all. Anyway, he's agreed to this whole rigorous schedule I'm putting him through and I have fallbacks in place for when he doesn't keep to it. I know he'll really respond when he gets some hope and sees the possibilities open to him.
posted by brenton at 7:07 PM on October 31, 2011

I take it it's possible for you to support and feed him, but this is character building.

If that's the case, what about many small jobs? Have him stay with you and find one off gigs on craigslist etc, promoting himself to people to get a days work here and there, dog walking odd jobs etc.

Then he will experience putting his best foot forward for many things and being in different environments.

If something comes out of it for a few weeks all well and good.

Just an idea. My characters not very built so don't take my word for it.
posted by Not Supplied at 7:11 PM on October 31, 2011

Ah, okay. The option I would personally advocate for (given that I have a relative with a similar state of being) is sink or swim. Dude's gotta be kicked out of the parents' house and put into a situation where he HAS to fend for himself. No monetary or emotional support, just "We love you, go forth and prosper."

I would suggest that he start looking at his old university for leads.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:54 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Temp agency, ask for "light industrial" positions.
posted by bardic at 8:50 PM on October 31, 2011

how is he at sales? craigslist has this listing right now; could fit in with his music interests.

Los Angeles Philharmonic TeleFundraising Campaign - IMMEDIATE (Hollywood)
posted by mirepoix at 12:51 AM on November 1, 2011

I'm literally thinking of having him stand on the corner of the street with a cardboard sign that says "I need work, not spare change" and a stack resumes in his bag.

Please don't do this. You said he needs to get back up to speed, find his confidence and some hope, and this sure as shit isn't going to do it. You also mentioned the famous kick in the pants. Problem is, most people have really shitty aim, and it just ends up being a kick in the teeth.

This is my nine-to-fiver. His CV contents are fine, the presentation isn't from the exerpt you have shown. You say he was heavily envolved in pulling off the charity concert? Describe his role more thorughly, it sounds like he handed out flyers.

Your idea about having him volunteer is your best one. Something physical would be ideal, you want him dropping into bed at eleven. Habitat for Humanity or similar would be great, soup-kitchen etc is also good hard work. That's not usually a full time gig, the other part of his "work day" should encompass pounding craigslist in your area for some cash-in-hand work, odd gigs that will remind him how it's nice to get some money for your work, and will give him some cash to play with. He also needs to use that part of his day for applying for more permanent positions in his home town. He can do quite a bit of this on the net and by phone.

The last part of the day is him having a little bit of fun, spending time with his sibling, seeing whatever city it is he is in. The biggest mistake people make in "getting people on track" is to take over responsibility for them. You are there to hold the flashlight, or hold the ladder, or whatever metaphor you prefer. A good phrase to have in the back of your mind is "that sounds like you are putting the responsibility for that on me... how can I help you achieve it?". Hand it back to him, but help him with the heavy pushing.
posted by Iteki at 2:24 AM on November 1, 2011

And don't rely on temp companies. The whole "professional for 10 years and can't get a temp job" isn't just a stereotype. It doesn't hurt to try, and be super persistent, and be willing to take a variety of jobs, but it might not happen in a 2-4 week period.

Maybe he can organize some comedy gigs in town, for another charity. Or put on a talent show at an old folks' home, or a hospice, or some kind of care facility.

It seems like he's very theatrical and enjoys the organization that is involved in getting complicated productions together. I'd suggest emailing a bunch of local theatre troupes, or community theaters, to volunteer his services on helping to produce their holiday shows. He could offer 20 hours a week, and spend the rest of his time doing labor-for-money work.

If part of this is about building up his self-esteem, and opening his eyes to his value in the world, it seems important to try and take his own interests and expand them into new possibilities.

The Los Angeles Theater Center is looking for volunteers in a variety of positions.

The LA Food Bank volunteer positions would give him insight into other non-profit organizations behind the scenes. And it would introduce him to some amazing folks, working their butt off, and thinking about their community!

Here's a comedy fundraising event on Nov. 5. If he emails now, he might be able to help on site either before, during or after the event.
posted by barnone at 1:28 PM on November 1, 2011

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