Thursday, July 28, 2011

Work it, Girl!

I know a lot of young theater professionals are in my same boat with employment.  I'm sharing my experiences:

As a part of job search: 2011, I made sure to search for jobs every single day.  I had a couple of sites that I checked daily (  and Artsearch) as well as just random google searches.  Since my resume and portfolio website ( were updated, as soon as I found a job, I reworked a cover letter for the specific job and sent it all off, usually in less than an hour.  I wanted work and I wanted it bad.  

It took two weeks for me to hear back from one such job posting that I had responded to.  I found it sort of randomly through a google search and had actually sort of forgotten that I had even applied since it had been a couple of weeks and I had not heard anything from them.  I had pretty much gotten desperate about finding work within the costume industry so I was in the middle of filling out unemployment paperwork when I got an email asking about setting up an interview.  The interview was set up and I was on my way.

Now, I consider myself to be pretty experienced when it comes to the interview process.  I estimate that between trying to get into organizations at Texas A&M University, graduate school interviews, and costume job interviews, I've probably been on the interviewee side of over 30 meetings.  I've also conducted about as many interviews in College, and even given workshops to undergraduates about the dos and don'ts of an interview.  The interviews have been a good mix of phone and in person chats and I can usually know by the end if it will have a positive or negative outcome.  

I had the phone interview on a Wednesday afternoon.  It lasted about 45 minutes.  I had a list of about ten questions written down and my interviewer answered most of them before I was even able to ask.  He's done this before, obviously.  I hung up the phone and felt good.  The interview was really solid and I felt confident during the conversation.  For the first time, though, I had no idea how it would play out.  Not knowing who else was applying (apparently there were several other interviews to be conducted), I was now just going to have to wait.  My interviewer promised to contact me on Monday with news, good or bad, or that he needed more time.  As he said, I had an email telling me he would need a little more time, and I would hear from him on Wednesday.

Finally Wednesday came.  I had come to the conclusion that I would either be sad but happy or happy but sad.  If I didn't get the job, I'd be really sad but at least I would get to stay in San Diego for the time being.  If I did get the job, I'd be happy, but then I'd be leaving my second home and my friends again and moving across the country.  When the phone call finally came, I really couldn't believe that I was offered the job.  I had convinced myself that I wasn't going to get it so I wouldn't be disappointed.  Then I went into a bit of shock because I did get it.  I don't think most people cry when they get offered a job, but I can assure you that I did.  It was a combination of the relief of finally finding steady work plus realizing that I was going to be in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend after three years of living in the same city.

It took another 5 days to get all of the contract details sorted out, but in that time I have become very excited and much less anxious about my big move to Ohio.  I am planning on getting rid of a lot of my possessions and only move with what will fit in my car, so the next couple of weeks will be quite busy.  I found a beautiful furnished room in a Victorian house in an artsy neighborhood which I am really thrilled about.  Dealing with cold weather and snow will be interesting as I've never lived in a city with extremes in weather so I am looking forward to the challenge (and a white Christmas season!!).    

Of course, Discotoes will continue to spread sparkle across the country, being based on the internet.  I am really continuing to look forward to making beautiful and funky footwear.

Do you have any job hunting, interviewing, negotiating experiences to share?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I have confidence in me! (Part 3)

So, let them bring on all their problems

I'll do better than my best
I have confidence they'll put me to the test
But I'll make them see I have confidence in me


I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!

So we've finally reached part 3 (read Part 1 and Part 2 or scroll down) of this delightful "Sound of Music" inspired series.  I put it off for a bit partly because I was not sure how to finish the saga, and partly because I was afraid of how it would end.  

Finally, the waiting and unsure feelings from Part 1 and the courage found from Part 2 have actually come together for an outcome worthy of a musical song and dance number complete with a catchy chorus, traditional German costumes, and a chorus full of dancing Nuns.  

I got a job.  A real one.  With a 9 month contract and benefits and stuff.  And I'm pumped.

I won't pretend to say that I was offered this job off of pure confidence, but it certainly played a part.  Tomorrow, look for a post that chronicles my job search and interview process.  I think any time you are putting yourself out into the world to be judged and chosen--be it for a job or on the kickball team at recess or on Project Runway--you are going to have to find a balanced confidence if you want to be successful.  If you can't find confidence in yourself and your skills, no one else will either.  If you think too highly of yourself, others will see that as cockiness and that certainly won't get you very far either.
The Team!

After months of frustration and my confidence dipping by the day, the turning point came at softball practice.  I finally convinced my boyfriend that I wouldn't be a terrible addition to his co-ed softball team and he finally agreed.  Though I have not played softball in a very long time, I came out to the first practice with glove blazing.  I was making awesome catches left and right and was feeling really great about myself.  My hitting is nothing to really write home about, but I was much less terrified knowing that at least I could excel in the outfield.  That practice gave me a confidence high for the rest of the weekend.  I am am permanent fixture in the outfield in a position where it is very common for me to have to make a play.  My confidence in myself turned into my team's confidence in me.      

Then we got to game time and good grief, I was nervous!  I certainly made my share of errors and our team didn't quite win.  I definitely got down on myself for making mistakes because it meant I also let my team down.  At the end of the game, the score was so bad that I when we scored 7 runs in the next game and still lost, I was excited that we had improved.  Still, even though my skills are in progress, I can't forget how great it felt that first day out.  With two games behind our team, I am looking forward to a few more before I move.  Each game I get more confident and more excited even though this is certainly not in my comfort zone.  

So over the past few weeks, I've been able to reflect on the scary aspects of being in an unstable art industry, seeking the courage to continue the job search no matter what, and finally finding confidence in myself first.

When was a time that you found confidence in yourself that inspired others to do the same?

Monday, July 18, 2011

New look Coming Soon!

You will notice some aesthetic changes going on in the land of Discotoes in the next few weeks, which has me very excited!  This new background is a peek into where the branding and look of the marketing/website is headed.

I am working with Sara and her crew at  Mackenzie Marketing & Design on all kinds of fun things and I am looking forward to sharing them with you!

What do you think?

Friday, July 15, 2011

I am seeking the courage I lack (Part 2)

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don't I just know I'll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to serve them with reliance
Face my mistakes without defiance
Show them I'm worthy
And while I show them 
I'll show me

If you missed it, scroll down for Part 1 of my series on finding confidence in the unknown!

There was a period of time a few months ago that I thought I had a full time job.  It was pretty glorious, and even more exciting because it was going to be my FIRST EVER 40 hour a week job that would last more than 3 months.  Well, I did have it, but budgets came through and then I didn't have it anymore.  I was laid off before I really even started.  And I had passed up two other jobs for the job that I had but no longer do.  "Oh yes, thank you so much for the offer of an equally awesome job, but no thank you, I have a full time job lined up already."  And let me tell you, it really sucked.  And I was mad.  And sad.  And disappointed.  And was throwing a pity party for myself on a regular basis.  And I am only responsible for myself.

I finally got to the point where I could take a step back.  

I am so glad that I am unemployed right now.  
I am young, I can still live the college lifestyle, I can eat pb&j for dinner every night and not really care, I am mobile, I am responsible for myself alone.  Some of my coworkers were also getting the raw end of the deal, getting let go from jobs they thought they had, jobs they had been working at a lot longer than me, jobs that supported their families and offered health insurance.
So yes, I am so glad that I am unemployed right now, at this point in my life, when I don't have a mortgage, a car payment, a child, a husband.  I have to seek out the courage that I lost when my job fell out of my hands, and realize how lucky I am to have lost my job at a time when I am resilient.  Do I still get emotional and frustrated about it all?  Absolutely.  But I have to stop these doubts, all these worries.  If I don't I just know I'll turn back.  And I can't turn back.  I have worked too hard to spend 7 years in college to just walk away from a career that I love because I had some doubt in myself and had lost confidence in my abilities.  

Check back for Part 3 tomorrow about finding confidence in any situation.

Oh, what's the matter with me? (Part 1)

What will this day be like? I wonder.

What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what's the matter with me?

I've always longed for adventure
To do the things I've never dared
And here I'm facing adventure
Then why am I so scared

From The Sound Of Music

This is the first of three posts about finding confidence in a time full of unknowns.  It is inspired by one of my favorite songs from The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein called "I Have Confidence".  During my awkward years of High School, I was a band geek AND a theater nerd.  I had a lot going for me, obviously.  My sophomore year, we staged The Sound of Music for our big yearly musical.  Every show that I've ever been in will always hold a special place in my heart, and this one is no different.  I have often identified with the character of Maria, and this season of my life more than ever.

What IS the matter with me?  Well besides the obvious answers from my snarky friends, I would say that my frustration with finding work has gotten the best of me at times in the last few months.  

(Side Note: I work on costumes for theater.  Finding a full time, year round position with benefits and holidays and all that jazz is like finding the gold at the end of the rainbow.  Or the holy grail.  Or anything else that would make your friends jealous if you find it first.)  

In the last 12 months, I have worked at 2 major theaters, one opera, and a specialty fabric dying shop.  I also took on a music video, a short film, and a play.  The longest job was around 2 1/2 months.  As I get started at one gig, I will start looking to line up my next.  I am always on the lookout for my next move and I have been blessed that things have always work themselves out.  I have even been lucky enough to stay located around Southern California for all of my work over the past four years.  This is not always the case with many people in our industry and it is common to live in a few different states in 12 months.

I have come to an odd place in my string of jobs, though.  I have had some work off and on over the past month, but nothing steady right now.  I am diligent with checking job boards and keeping my ears open for overhire (where you are brought on short term) opportunities, but the end of the summer is sort of a dead time in most theaters.  Their summer productions are up and running by now and fall seasons have not started up quite yet.  

For the first time life, really, I don't know what my future will be.  
It is truly terrifying.
For me, after high school, there was college, then to graduate school, and then the work just kept falling into place.  The past 26 years had a direction, just the way I liked it.  Until now.  I'm obviously not the only one in this situation.  Chances are, you probably know at least a hand full of people who are unemployed, in a transition in their life or career.  Some of my friends have finished their bachelors and masters degrees and can't find entry level work.  Others have been working for 25 years and were laid off and now have compete with younger, cheaper competition.  For everyone, its a pretty crummy situation.

Tomorrow, I'll share some insight on the seriously scary part of being jobless.  Its not pretty, but I think its important to share to remind other in the same situation that they are not alone.  It should also help all of us be thankful for what we have.  We WILL get to happier times soon...but you'll have to wait for part 3 for that!!

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