Want to transition from marketing to screenwriting? Interested in getting more involved with production? Thinking about getting an MFA, or just want to land that next promotion at your current network?
If so—now’s the time to get started. It’s a good idea for everyone to reflect on their career in the new year, but if you’re in the entertainment world (or want to be), it’s non-negotiable! Media is a constantly-changing industry and people are shuffling around on what seems like a daily basis, which means you should always be proactively thinking about your next steps.
Whether you’re just launching your career or you’re looking to kick it into high gear, here are five ways to get 2012 off to the right start.
The end of the year is usually when annual reviews and bonuses are doled out, so you’ve probably gotten some valuable feedback from your manager and some insight into your future at your current role. So, think about what you’ve learned, and take some time to ask yourself the big questions: Do you want to stay in your current medium (film, TV, radio)? Do you want your boss’s job? Is it possible for you to take on more responsibilities in your current role?
And if the answer to any of the above is no, it’s definitely time to start exploring other options.
2. Ramp up Your Reading List
If you’re not already, you should be reading the trades for the inside scoop on what’s going on in the industry. A good start to your weekly reading list is Cynopsis (or Cynopsis Sports or Cynopsis Digital), Variety, Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood, The Hollywood Reporter, and Entertainment Weekly. Check out articles and job postings to see where companies are hiring, and keep tabs on which networks have picked up new shows and which are winning the ratings wars. Also keep an eye out for the companies that are struggling financially—good insight if you’re thinking of switching jobs.
3. Go on (Informational) Interviews
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Informational interviews are the single best way you can learn about a field. And they’re especially important in the entertainment world, where it really, really is about who you know.
So, line a few up for the month. If you feel comfortable enough to ask them, your co-workers a level or two above your position can be good sources of information, especially if you’ve been in your current role for a while. It’s no secret that you want to move up in the industry someday, and there’s no shame in asking a colleague about her background, position, and goals.
4. Go Back to School
If you know what areas you’d like to move into or jobs you’d like to work toward, figure out what skills you need to get there. Need to know how to edit? Consider taking a class in Avid or Final Cut. Want to sharpen your writing? Take a sketch or sitcom writing class. You can also look into full-time degree programs—if you start planning now, you’ll be more than prepared once application season hits in the fall.
5. Track Your Progress
Plan to keep checking in with yourself every few months to make sure you’re still headed in the right direction. And, since both the industry and your plans can change very quickly, it’s good to keep your eyes open for new opportunities, and to reevaluate your end goal every few months.
Above all, don’t be discouraged. Transitioning to a new job or trying to get ahead in your current career takes time, and the results of your efforts aren’t going to be instantaneous. But, if you keep networking, working on your skills, and tracking even small steps of your progress, you’ll eventually get to where you want to go.