Career Paths

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A dear friend of mine recently moved back to the Los Angeles area. She and I met years ago and had similar career paths until she left the industry and then ultimately moved away. Well she is back, and she is trying to get her career going again… but money is a big deal. When you don’t have an income your savings seems to go really fast, and just having a job becomes the goal.

I get needing money. It’s sometimes a hard thing to admit, but if you are in dire need of money you probably should take the first job offered to you, with the understanding that it’s a safe, legal work environment. I think many indie films have been made due to people’s desperation to pay their rent and eat some Easy Mac. A small paycheck is still a paycheck, and in some ways, another day off the street.

My unsolicited advice is, that if you are not looking for a “paycheck,” and you have the ability to be selective. Do it!

The problem with taking any job, is that you can find yourself in a quick and steady career path, and it may not be the one you choose. Every type of TV has a very different path. Once you have been working in half hour multi-cam comedies… you are not necessarily qualified to work on one hour big budget Live Stage shows, like an awards show or something like The Voice. Just because you have worked your butt off for years working on documentaries, you might have a hard time getting into one hour procedural dramas.

One of the things I have talked about with someone recently is that they want to get into development and work on green lighting projects and overseeing them from start to finish.

Someone suggest they get into children’s television. Hold on… what? I disagree with this. Again. Unsolicited advice…but this is wrong. If you want to get into development you need to get on a career path to developing things… work as an assistant to an executive, work at an agency or management company… do not just assume you can work in children’s television and then you can easily transition out of it, to development. Those two things are very different. Not to mention children’s television is just like the rest of television, hard to get your foot in the door, its own genre and you will find it hard to get out of it if you work in it for a long time.

As a side note, getting into any writer’s room is difficult and can take a long time. Most people who are writer’s assistants have been in the right place, right time.

I feel you have to go with your gut. But I know that if you can be choosy about what jobs you take, you have a better shot at reaching your career goals. Choose a job that will lead you to where you want to be. Figure out what you want to do and then find out what jobs are in that career path and go after them! Do not be swayed by the promise of new and shiny. Stick to it, go after what you want!

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Ashleigh Nichols

About Ashleigh Nichols

Ashleigh Nichols resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Eddie, and their Chihuahua mix, Nova. Together they work on their own projects as a wife-husband directing/producing/writing team. Through Owlet Pictures, they created the web series Coffee Shop Squatters, and the award winning short film Summer of the Zombies. Ashleigh is also working on a dramatic feature and creating a new web series, set to shoot later this year. While not working on her own projects, Ashleigh is currently an in house Production Manager at Ampersand Media. Before going in house she Production Managed several shows/Pilots for Comedy Central, HBO Go and Vh1, some of these include: The Jeselnik Offensive, The Burn, The Ben Show, Brody Stevens: Enjoy It! and Parental Discretion S2. Ashleigh is also honored to have Co-Produced the indie film The Historian, currently touring on the festival circuit.