Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Have I ever told you about my big girl glasses? A $395 pair of Pradas. I bought them 3 years ago to impress a table full of TV directors (co-workers) wearing big frames with designer names. When I discovered they ditched me (the only one left in the office) to have lunch together, I bought the glasses immediately to redeem myself. My thought at the time was that if I could afford them, I deserved to rock them.

I have done a lot of learning since them. Much of it in the past 6 months. But last week I really had to cram.

While on vacation in DC, I thought I had misplaced the Pradas forever. Fail. Then I got a call Saturday for a job I had applied for the day before. Unfail.

I went on the interview that Monday, thought it went really well, and then 2 days full of thank you letter issues later, I got a call for another interview. I went on it the next day, and for the first time since the Fiji/mtvU decision of 06' – I had a tough choice to make.

I felt positive about landing that first job - the gig also seemed fun and relatively easy to cast. The other job would require constantly proving myself on a very challenging project.

A good problem to have, the possibility of being up for two jobs, but it had the potential to go very badly. I could have played my cards wrong and ended up with 0 jobs and burned bridges.

The little girl in me wanted to take the easier job close to all the Herald Square shopping goodness. The adult in me was hungry for a challenge and wanted to work under a casting director who seemed to be the person I wanted to become in the next 5 years.

I went the mature route as soon as it was 100% offered to me and am now faced with the challenge of finding girls in debt whose parents are willing to live with them for a week (see shameless casting plug at the bottom of the post).

After my decision came one last query - how to let the other company who hadn't notified me about their selection know I was taking myself out of the running for their consideration.

The bravest most adult thing to do would be to give the other hiring manager a call with my news. Not quite 100% more mature adult Cara sent her an e-mail, a very tasteful one which thanked the company for their time and let them know I still
hoped to work with them in the future.

Other lessons I learned last week included how to be persistent without stalking, why being honest prevents trouble down the road and why buying $$$ items to impress others is never a good idea. I made some tough decisions and took responsibility for them. Rather than turning my back the situations I was afraid of, I listened to the advice of others and faced them head on. So today, when I finally found my big girl glasses in the eternal pigsty that is my room, I really felt like I had earned them.

And now for the casting call!


Need a financial makeover? Credit-card bills piling up? Are debt collectors calling non-stop? Is your debt keeping you from moving forward?

E-mail the following to cweissman@bbcnyproduction.com:
*name, age, location and contact #
*Your credit card crisis (how long, how much)
*How your parents feel about your situation
*How you are feeling about the situation


*You MUST live in NY / NJ / CT/ Philly (or close to Philly)
*People with big stories, big situations, AND with big personalities
*You CAN NOT currently live with parents
*MUST have both parents willing to take part in the show
*Parents must be in driving distance to you for production purposes
*Must be between 24-34 yrs. old

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This month, when it rained it poured. I'm not just talking about the record breaking precipitation we have been enduring in the Northeast. I landed two interviews in less than a week, and it's raising some professional etiquette questions.

After months of sending out resumes with no response, I got professional advice and a ‘resumakover’ from career coaching wonderwoman Gloria Schramm. I sent it out for the first time last Friday for a 3-6 month gig I was genuinely interested in landing and got a call the next day requesting an interview.

It occurred Monday, and I believe that it went well. My skills were a perfect fit for the job, my research on the company was appreciated and I discovered I had mutual acquaintances with the hiring managers. Acquaintances who loved my work.

But I did make one key mistake - I didn’t get the e-mail addresses of the people interviewing me. When I couldn’t find their contact information online and the 24 hour window of thank you letter sending time was almost closed, I called the woman who brought me in to get them. I entered the addresses on their respective e-mails (one of which was to her) and hit send. I then left my laptop to run errands take a class on a skill that will further my career. When I got back six hours later, I discovered that one of the e-mails had bounced back.

Pop quiz hot shot - what do you do?

I'll tell you what I did. Using Glorias suggestion, I pushed the feeling that I was acting like an incompetent stalker aside and sent her an e-mail saying that I hoped she received her letter since the other one bounced back. I added that I wanted to confirm the other address since I wanted to make sure he knew I was appreciative of his time as well. She wrote me back with the right e-mail and I was back in the game.

After hitting send, I got a call to interview for ANOTHER job. This one is for the BBC, where I have worked in the past. I'll be heading over there tomorrow to interview with a casting director I have never met before. Not sure how to handle the situation if I am offered that job on the spot since the first gig was supposed to last longer and that is always a big plus. I guess it all comes down to if the BBC is willing to wait for me to hear back from the other company.

I am struggling with how to treat both hiring managers with as much class as possible. In a freelance world where jobs are scarce, you can't burn any bridges. I don't want to get blacklisted by a company because I say I'm available then am suddenly not. It would also be tricky to say I'm holding out for another job that pays more, or will last longer, or is in the vicinity of more friends I can meet up with for lunch.

I'm trying not to count my chickens before they hatch (getting offered both jobs) - but I want to be prepared in case the best scenario happens. I think we all know what the worst case scenario is... another frustrated blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The unemployment rate has moved up from 8.9% to 9.4%. In an investigative report, a 30ish journalist applied for a wide variety of over 300 jobs. He landed 8 interviews, 2 callbacks, zero jobs.

Do those statistics scare me? Heck no they don't! They surround me like an invisible bubble and shield me when people ask innocent, well meaning questions. Necessary, because when people say:

"Really, no job leads at all?" "You are so talented, why haven't you found work yet?" "Can't you even get babysitting or waitressing temp jobs in the meantime?"

All I hear is:

"Really? Why haven't you found work? Can't you even get temp job?”

It stings like a bee, and I'm having the worst reaction towards the people I love the most. Even my own body is agitating me. I'm facing serious pressure from my sinuses. My eyes and throat are itching for more than just success.

Other ailments/Remedies:

STUFFY HEAD: Occurring when I cross paths with ragweed or the comment - "can't you waitress in the meantime?"

Hosting at Chili's in State College on a Football weekend? Been there. Waiting swing shifts at Pizzeria Uno's on the Upper West Side? Done that. And I may do it again. But I'm not in a rush to. Why? It's perfectly respectable to graduate college and serve salad till you finally get your "real job." However, after successfully coordinating a team of 22 casting assistants around the world, the thought of refilling sodas takes on a whole new meaning. It's not just about staying afloat till something better comes along, it's a blow to your ego.

RX: I would take a big dose of humility just to get the feeling of actually earning my paycheck back - but I'm making more on unemployment than I did on tips. So until the government stops sending me checks or it's an under the table gig, I'm not taking your order.

CONGESTION: The job market is being flooded with resumes, often for positions which aren't actually hiring. My jam packed page of experience went seemingly unnoticed. To help stand out of the crowd, I enlisted the help of seasoned pros to breathe some life into my moldy old resume. Sizzle words now litter my two paged “brag sheet.” It's funky but professional format at sends a clear message that I am the perfect fit for a job. And yes, it does change slightly depending on what job I apply for. Industries may be different but skills transfer! Still no signs of life from the other side though...

RX: I'm also trying to find opportunities from companies before they ask for help. I've been in the industry long enough to identify a problem before it happens and offer my skills in advance.

HIVES: I'm breaking out, trying to network as much as possible. I mostly only encounter other pink slippers at these events. It's very cathartic to share battle stories with them, but unless I end up brainstorming it's just another rash move in a dispiriting job hunt.

RX: Still creating a buzz for myself by being a social bee - attending conferences filled with people who are getting paychecks in the fields I want to work in but no little about (writing, all types of writing). I can go as a volunteer or get some cash for helping at check in.

As you can see, I'm trying to think outside the bubble. But I'm so much more than a statistic. Job hunting is a large part of my life, but not the only part. It can be painful to discuss it with friends. But other questions like “How is your Spanish?” “Why is Walt special?” “Ride your bike anywhere fun lately?” are easy to swallow and help me to breathe a little bit easier.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Use Your Cents

Another bird pooped on my head today. That aside...

Viacom still has yet to approve my Cobra subsidy, so I've had to seriously buckle down on my spending. To start, I've been returning everything I've recently bought but didn't need.

First to go was an impulse buy from The Body Shop. The saleslady gave me her best pitch for a few minutes on why I should keep the shimmering body bronzer until finally I told her I needed to put that $18.50 towards my health insurance - because I had been laid off. She quickly hushed up and proceeded with the refund.

I'm also trying to avoid convenience fees and fines that add up and could have been avoided by keeping a calendar of when things are due. But sometimes, thoughtless mistakes happen.

I realized a dvd case I had returned to the library ahead of it's due date was actually empty - the disc was still in a player in my apartment - 2 days too late on a holiday weekend. Ironically, the movie checked out was Volver (Espanol for return). By the time I noticed my mistake it had amounted to $12 ($3 for every day). In front of several preschoolers reading Dr. Seuss, I had to convince the head librarian to be absolved of my fine.

Unfortunatly, there are some fees and wasted cash I will never be able to get back in life. And the longer I remain on unemployment the harder it is to let these little costs go.

To even things out a bit, I keep my eyes peeled for ways to save or even gain cash. A few examples:

During the cleaning of my apartment/office space I count all the spare change recovered. I then take it to a penny arcade at TD Bank knowing exactly how much it is. For "guessing" correctly how much money is deposited, you win $3.

While cashing in a coupon for Snapfish pictures I noticed the savings were the same amount as the shipping fee. I avoided paying the $11 by having them shipped to a local Walgreens and picking them up instead.

This past weekend, the free shuttle from the Princeton Junction train station to a nearby Hyatt was m.i.a.. Rather than pay for a $10 cab to the hotel where my friend Kim's bridal shower was being held, I hitched a ride with a nice elderly Swedish couple. Ok, so that last money saver was kind of risky. Next time I'll use better sense.

The point is you can't cry over spilled milk and sit around cursing your situation. Let it go. Be proactive and find ways to save cash for the more important things in life. Like Phillies/Mets tickets. Who's goin with me?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Load of ...?

A bird crapped on my face yesterday while I was pedaling through the last stretch of a bike n' brainstorm session with Stacey Burgay. Half of it hit my helmet with a subtle smack. The rest splattered on my cheek and shirt. There's a stain that's not coming out.

Thankfully, I was a few yards from a public rest stop to wash it off in. I was raised to believe that bird poop is supposed to be good luck.... on cars. I was a moving vehicle at the time though, so we'll see what happens.

With "good" omens occurring few and far between I would like to think that I make my own luck. I reluctantly ditch fun plans for networking events. I stay up late writing for two blogs and creative contests with cash prizes. I take the time to get in touch with old contacts and scour job boards in hope of impressing new ones.

Waking up at a 9-5ers hours and starting the day off at the gym is another tactic I have employed to get employed. An evil truth is that sleeping until 10am does nothing but keep you unproductive. Rather than being lazy, I get the sweat session out of the way so I can focus on the rest of my to do list for the day. It also helps me to feel like I have already accomplished something while applying for entry-level jobs with low salaries/titles but room to grow.

I would like to think that I am one of the hardest working people in the business of not being in business. But if a force greater than myself is what decides if I ever work again... well I hope it realizes that I have 6 wedding gifts to pay for and shows some mercy. Seriously though, I would probably have watched all of Lost 3x's and average 11 hrs of sleep a night if I knew the outcome of my career quest was out of my hands.

But just like Jacob said to Ben, "you have a choice." (Linus is such a pawn!). My decision is that believing in fate and luck alone is too passive. That is why I am eager to set an effective chain of events in motion by constantly putting myself out there. Because opportunities, unlike bird droppings, don't just fall out of the sky.