Monday, August 24, 2009

How A Thank You Card Launched My Career

I've been very lucky my entire career with having wonderful bosses and co-workers and being consistently groomed in the same way by all my superiors. It has allowed me to be in the entertainment industry for almost 9 years now.

While on a job interview not too long ago, I was asked how I ended up working for everyone I have and how I got started in the industry. My first answer was, "No nepotism here!" but the more serious answer is I did A LOT of internships, I started on my career early, and I did it through hard work because I had ZERO connections in Hollywood. Yes, ZERO. I've found every single one of my jobs through a temping agency. But in reality - the most useful skill that opened a lot of doors for me were my soft skills.

To all my college professors and mentors, hats off to you for teaching me about gratitude, showing appreciation, and passing on the knowledge as a way of giving back to the community.

How I Got My Job with a Chairman/CEO

I moved to Los Angeles to look for a job in the industry and because I had zero connections, I learned through informational interviews that I should apply to the temp agencies. I opened the phone book and signed up with every single one in town. One of my first assignments was being the executive assistant to a VP. On my first day there, as I walk to my desk, a guy appears out of nowhere and introduces himself to say hi and welcome me to the company. We shake hands, exchange names, and that's it. I basically never see him again because he doesn't even work in my department. However, this guy deserves all the credit for launching my entire career. Here's how...

After my gig ended, I sent thank you cards to EVERYONE I met, including this guy that I never saw again. I thanked him for making me feel welcome and taking the time to introduce himself although we never worked together. I mentioned my gig was over and I learned a lot and enjoyed my assignment and hoped to have the chance to return again. It may sound like a stretch, but I was really moved with how he went out of his way to be nice when it wasn't required of him.

A couple of weeks later I get a call for an assignment and I realize it's this guy who requested me based on the fact that I sent him a thank you card. The important thing I learned is, he's an event planner, he hosts parties, he meets lots of people, and to him, the fact that I sent a thank you card said something about me.

My job is anything from deliver memos to different people on other floors to stuffing THOUSANDS of invitations to be mailed out for movie premieres. It's not what one would call a "meaty" assignment, but it didn't matter to me so I went about my business and did my job.

Delivering memos meant I also had to drop off stuff to the CEO's office. So I'd go in, put the papers in the in box and turn around and leave. No hello, no trying to chat them up or loiter to see if any celebrities were there.

Another couple of weeks go by and I'm told by HR, "The CEO wants to hire you to work in his office." And I find out they were asking about me, "Who's the girl that drops off paperwork? We really like her."

They really like me?! Based on what!? LOL I think it's because I was quiet and unassuming.

So if the event planner hadn't introduced himself and if I didn't send him a thank you card, I would have never delivered papers to the CEO to be hired... It's just that simple. I got my first real job by taking 5 minutes of out my day to say thank you. :)


  1. hi, thanks for the note on landing jobs in hollywood. so many people want to score a gig in entertainment, even mba candidates, lawyers, etc will drop what they're doing to work in the mailroom.

    it's really helpful that you pointed out temp agencies as an entre into the workplace, having a great attitude and showing your gratitude w/ cards. more important, you stayed out of the ceo's way, stayed professional and caught that person's attention. way to go and thanks for a great blog.

  2. Hello, I found your blog through Brazen Careerist and I have enjoyed it. I want to start on a road similar to the one you started about nine years ago. Move to LA and get a job in the industry. For now I am in New England with my husband waiting for him to land a job in the area (there is a recession out there, so trying to be careful). I am unemployed but have been trying to do things related to film. I worked on a short film from August to November and now applying to an internship at a production office for the very small film industry we have here.

    My question to you is there anything else I can do or should be doing in my time before moving to LA that will make it easier for me to get a job when I am there? Any feedback or insight you can provide me would be greatly appreciated? You can reach me on Brazen Careerist (my name is Magen). Hope to hear from you.

  3. I am so happy that I found your blog! I am a lower level assistant working in Chicago at a radio station. Luckily for me the radio station is owned by the CBS Corporation, which means I have a somewhat in in the entertainment industry; but being in Chicago my options and networking are limited. I am sure as you know it is hard to become successful in anything in entertainment, so I am trying to learn all I can to have the skills needed to move up and relocate.

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Exec Asst.March 17, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      Penny - I am so glad you are enjoying my blog! I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.