"What is the best career path advice or source for career path advice/strategy to go from EA at a top private equity firm to EA with development potential with a production company?"
What a great question! It’s great you are already an EA from a reputable company. The next step is to jump industries and focus on the creative. If you’ve worked for the top dog at the equity firm and have a lot of experience, it’s usually understood that you are so talented you can work in any industry. Since you have already worked at a well known company, you are half way there.
Don’t rule out temping for studios or thru agencies that cater solely to the creative industries, accepting contract work, or volunteering while you have your current job to get different experience, exposure, and to meet new people with regard to film, tv, Hollywood, entertainment, or even other industries quasi-related to storytelling and character arcs - commercials, music videos, video gaming.
Google for the UTA list and sign up for all email lists and job boards for the entertainment industry, network with people you know, send your resume and cover letter snail mail to every company you want to work at to the attn of the recruiting department, and establish an online presence so headhunters find you via LinkedIn and job sites. You want to be in their database and searchable thru their list address/contacts book. I’ve heard of people even interning. And believe it or not, Craigslist has a lot of jobs for the creative industries because it’s cheap to post there and look for staff.
The hurdles to overcome are to get experience within Hollywood/entertainment as a foot in the door and/or hope to go right into the development/writing/producing side. You’re most likely going to get a lot of interviews for the business side of the entertainment industry as you try to switch fields - CFO’s EA at a major entertainment company, production/film companies that are just starting out and need funding, or internet start ups. The flip side is to try to get a job directly as a writer’s assistant, at a talent agency as an EA/script reader, or be an assistant to a creative executive (Executive Producer, Producer, etc) or the story department.
You want to establish relationships outside of the finance world because fitting into a different culture of the media/arts is important. Finance can be perceived as very stuffy, black and white, and sequential and non-chaotic. It’s all about numbers which are pretty clear cut. Much of any business, but especially Hollywood, is working with people whose company you enjoy so your soft skills and personality will be a big factor in hiring. Be passionate about tv or film beyond having a favorite show. Most people in the business are obsessed with their chosen field and their knowledge and breadth of information spans knowing more than just current, popular stuff. Afterall, thousands of people want to be in the industry, but those that do make it, eat, live, and breathe their art - sometimes even unpaid because they forego their usual pay rate or collect their paycheck only if the project is successful.
You have most likely established yourself as a solid, experienced EA, but you should also be open to doing a little personal assistant work, wearing a lot of hats, and being open to learning about everything. It’s up to you to find the opportunities, create your own luck, be humble/hungry, play the numbers game to your favor, and just try, try, try. Be strategic about your transition and job hunt and plan it well, even financially...
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I also write over at Jobstr.com under Hollywood Executive Assistant.