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My first survival job was working as a hostess at a steakhouse (I was a vegetarian at the time). As a recent graduate of a Radio and Television Program, I couldn’t find a paid TV gig, so it was the #restaurantlyfe for me.
I quickly realized part-time hostessing would simply not pay the bills, and I was becoming increasingly defeated.
With no TV opportunities in sight, and my optimism for my future hanging by a thread, I knew I had to make a change.
The catalyst for me was the ‘breakdown before the breakthrough’ – I simply couldn’t take struggling anymore and knew I had to make a change.
This change lead me to these three tips I’m thrilled to share about picking the right ‘survival job.’

1. Begin with the End in Mind.

looking for a job
I knew I would be leaving the restaurant world. I knew I needed a job with a fresh start every day, so when I left I wouldn’t leave my employers high and dry.  Working as a barista or bartender is a great gig if you know you’re going to be peacing out down the line.

2. Shift Your Mindset. You’re now ‘Funding The Dream’

dream jar
The term ‘survival jobbing’ sounds stressful. Shift the language around it to believe you’re now  ‘funding your dream’ – AWESOME! I stumbled across this term on the interwebs and it helped me realize that I could use this to help me find a positive aspect of working towards something great.

3. Find a Survival Job that Mirrors Your Dream Job.

find my dream job
I chose working in a restaurant because I knew it would have a lot of similar aspects to my dream job at the time: hosting a TV show. I was representing a brand, I was ‘the face’ of the organization, I had to be cool, calm and collected, and have the ability to instantly connect with people. So look for a ‘survival job’ (or volunteer experience) that has similar qualifications to your dream job so when you go into the interview for your ideal gig, you can intelligently explain why you’re currently working at a restaurant.

4. Be Strategic with the Restaurant or Coffee Shop.

pie chart
When I was working at the steakhouse, I quickly realized I didn’t like my surroundings. I was surrounded by extremely rich businessmen who saw right through me, and my colleagues tended to complain about their situation a lot. Since I didn’t have any TV opportunities, I figured I go to where the TV people are and find a job there. On a whim, I applied to one of the fanciest restaurants in the city. It was for an upscale clientele (celebrities and professional athletes were frequently there), and it was right across the street from one of the biggest TV networks in the country. Through a lil’ bit of luck, I got the job. And guess what – a few months into the gig, a TV producer I used to work with came in for lunch, we caught up, and she ended up giving me my foot in the door for my first TV job!

These are the tips I’d suggest looking back on my survival jobbing days! You got this!

– Gwen Elliot: Marketing + Chief Podcaster

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