I participated in Harvardwood 101 during winter break of my senior year, feeling like my degree in Comparative Literature could lead to a host of different careers. The program gave a hands-on look at what living and working in L.A. would be like, and what would entail finding the first industry job. I really enjoyed interning for a writer/showrunner who genuinely took stock in us college-age interns’ opinions on material he was seriously evaluating. Native to New Jersey, I was pretty sold on the novelty of mountains next to city, ocean, and palm trees, so I found an internship at Heyday Films through the Harvardwood Summer Internship Program and moved out a month after graduation.
I moved with some savings from previous summer jobs and internships I had during college and landed at an AirBnb in lower Beachwood Canyon, with a view of the Hollywood Sign all the way up the street. The first couple of weeks were a process of figuring out how to structure my time effectively. My internship was 2 days a week, so the other days were spent reaching out to alumni (many of whom had spoken on panels at Harvardwood 101 company visits) and applying to jobs. I started working at a gelato shop along the Walk of Fame across from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, after which I’ll be cautious to eat at any independently owned business in a majorly trafficked tourist area. At the time, I didn’t have a car, so I got to know Los Angeles and its different neighborhoods via the bus and the train.
All of the alumni I met with were gracious with their time and energy, most of them meeting with me in the middle of a busy work day. Some referred me to other people I should get to know; others passed along my resume and helped me get an interview. The AirBnB, as lovely an introduction to L.A. as it was, was expensive, so I moved downtown (still no furniture in my possession) and worked for a charismatic French crepe chef. Ultimately, Adam Pachter AB '92, the chapter head of Harvardwood in Boston (who I’d initially met at a campus event prior to graduation), introduced me to a friend of his whose boss from years ago, now a literary manager based out of the Manhattan Beach Studios lot, was looking for an assistant. I started my first job about 6 months after the day I moved to the wild west. I learned a lot by working closely with my boss, who encouraged me to take initiative when it came to determining how I should best spend my and the company’s time. Leasing a car for the commute was also a game-changer, and I used that time to call friends and family and listen to the radio as I drove up La Brea all the way from the South Bay.
Having other recent grads here in Los Angeles has been a great source of advice, empathy, and general support as we all figure out the first couple of years after graduation. In the midst of getting on our feet, it’s been centering to sit down over a weekend lunch or go for a hike together. Many of us are far from our hometowns and families, so having familiar faces with a common thread of experience makes the city feel less sprawling. As of last week, the next leg of the journey has me working at Verve Talent & Literary Agency. Just as one starts to feel settled in L.A., the Next Big Thing is nearly on the horizon.