Move now or later?
June 9, 2012 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Should I move now or wait another year?

I'm nearing 30 and I just finished my undergrad degree this year because of a couple of bouts of really severe depression. I want to go to graduate school, but I need to build a portfolio first and that may take a couple of years. In the mean time I’d like to get an entry level position in film/theater casting, which is something I could potentially see doing as a career if my other ambitions don’t pan out.

I’m great at casting (many people have said this) despite being naturally shy. The problem is in order to get into it, you have to start with an unpaid internship, which if you’re lucky will turn into a casting assistant job. Those internships are hard to get and you never know how long you’ll have to wait for an actual job. Typically they look for interns who are organized and likeable. I have some admin experience but it’s all about 3 years old (from before I went back to school). I’m also somewhat awkward, so I worry that will make it harder for me to get my foot in the door. Once it's in, I'm confident I'd do a good job.

I’m living at home right now and I’ll need to move to NY to get an internship. I’m also broke, but my parents are willing to pay living expenses for a few months when I first move—that’s it.

My question: should I move now or hold off on moving for another year, and try to find a job here in order to save up money?

On the plus side if I wait a year I will save up money, gain some more recent job experience that might help me land an internship. Also, being at home may make it easier for me to work on my portfolio. I’m very prone to anxiety – working on my portfolio is stressful enough – and I worry the stress of living in a new city will make it hard for me to get other work done. I’m concerned if I move to NY either I won’t find an internship immediately, or, even if I do it will take forever to turn into a job and I will have no source of income and will have to move back home, which could be pretty soul crushing. Yikes.

On the downside, living at home over the last year has been really difficult. I think my depression has deepened because I’ve been more isolated from people my age (I have no friends here) and also just because I feel really down on myself for not being more independent. In other words, even if I’m working toward a future goal in the present, living at home still makes me feel stuck in the past. It probably doesn’t help that I rarely push myself to get out of the house to try to meet people -- I also suffer from social anxiety. I have been in and out of therapy but have never seen a therapist regularly for an extended period. I know I should. I am actually looking for one at the moment but unfortunately my health insurance won’t kick in for another 6 weeks. Also, given my lack of work history, any job I’ll be able to get right now will probably be pretty menial and unrelated to what I want to do. I worry that will take a hit to my self esteem.

What should I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total)
I’m living at home right now and I’ll need to move to NY to get an internship.

This seems like a big move for what sounds like a short-term gig you're only doing until you can get into your masters program. Why not take a run at casting for a community theatre production, see if you like it, build at least somewhat of a resume before running off to NYC?

Moving to NYC with no work experience, no relevant volunteer experience and the eventual end is a masters application in something else seems like an unrealistic plan, sorry.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 7:01 AM on June 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

The 'survival mode' of moving cities, for me, abates depression for a little while. It doesn't totally ameliorate it, but you are too busy with the day to day of 'Which bus/store/direction' that you are in a different space. It is a welcome distraction.

Menial work may be a hit to self esteem long term, but any kind of paid work I find a bit of a boost to self worth at the outset (unless it is a truly hellish place). You also meet people this way.

I'm sure there are also other cities you could consider. I'm sure NYC has the most options, but not all the options. Have you been talking to places about internships? Start.

If you move and it goes very, very badly, you move home. It will still be there.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 7:08 AM on June 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The American Theatre Wing runs some educational things for theatre interns, including their Theatre Intern Group and an annual Internship Fair which happened in March. You might consider waiting until next year's fair if you want to better your odds of getting a position, although as you can see, many of them seem to be closed-ended (which might be good for your resume if you want to go for school for this). Getting an open-ended full-time paid job working in theatre is really hard, particularly if you also have to figure out how to also make enough money to support yourself. Unfortunately I think those jobs tend to go to people who can manage being endlessly patient about making no money (i.e. they're supported by someone else). It's not fair, but that's what it is. I would not move to New York with all your eggs in the "get a paid job in theatre or bust" basket. A lot of the artists I know also work in restaurants, catering, childcare, temporary office day jobs, moving- they work harder than I, person with a "real" job, ever will. If the thought of that crushes your soul, NYC might not be for you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:12 AM on June 9, 2012

For me, personally, the solution to "my life lacks an immediate To Do plan of action, and I'm not quite sure what I really want to do and can actually pull off, and here's a risky thing I could try, and by the way I have a severe and persistent mental illness" has never been "move to a new place with a loose kind of idea for how it should go and hope it works out." It has always been "stay in the place I already am, get real help, get good at being stable and healthy, and take sensible precautions like making sure I have money saved up and a long-term job in hand before moving."

I mean, I've tried both, and the second one worked out much, much, much better.

If I were in your shoes I would:
  1. Prioritize getting into long-term therapy (this has helped me more than anything else.)
  2. Make sure that I make "getting myself out more" and "figuring out how to be OK with being 30 and still living at home" and "I am socially awkward" and similar issues a MAJOR focus of therapy.
  3. Get the best, least-stressful job available locally.
  4. Work really hard on the portfolio thing.
  5. Do the casting stuff for fun locally.
  6. Ask for as much networking help as possible - both socially (ask people for ideas on things to do, try to go to events where other people will be at, etc.) and professionally. This might entail joining support groups or going to MeetUp events or whatever.
  7. Plan a few chances to "escape" - part of why I struggled with living at home, it turned out, was that my physical sphere became incredibly limited. A few weekend trips to various places that were reasonably far away, and other kinds of activities, was REALLY helpful.

posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 9:52 AM on June 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, and stay connected with your academic & social contacts from back at school. Develop those relationships, attend alumni/public events on campus, etc. You have invested a LOT of yourself and your resources into that degree - keeping that stuff alive is hugely important for your career and your psychological wellbeing.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 9:54 AM on June 9, 2012

From the OP:
Thanks for the responses so far.

In response to a few points that were raised:

I'm interested in both film and theater casting, not just theater.

I am 100% certain I want to move to NY eventually, and I know I could do the job once I'm given an internship. I'm an extremely hard worker. So this isn't a question of whether I should ever move to NY at all, but when I should move and what I should do in the meantime to facilitate that move and help me get a job/internship when I get there.

I have done some casting on a couple of student films (which involved months of auditioning) and I loved it and was really good at it. I am certain that casting is something I want to pursue.

I spoke to one woman my age who also got into casting this year and had no experience in casting (less than I do). She was able to get an internship shortly after moving to NY after doing 12 interviews. Then that internship turned into a job after a few months when one of her coworkers left. That has given me some hope. The only thing is she probably had more of a job history than I do (not in casting but in other admin work).

From talking to other people in the field, it's really just about getting that first internship and working for awhile without pay until you get your first job. I guess what I"m saying is if that's risky situation now I don't know what what will ever be different. It will always be a risk, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. I'm just wondering if I would be able to make the situation less risky by saving money for a year, trying to get some sort of other job experience...or if that is just delaying.
posted by mathowie at 9:20 PM on June 9, 2012

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