I've always been one to follow my dreams, knowing that professional fulfillment may not always come with a big, fat paycheck. If you're lucky, you may be able to enjoy your passion and do more than just survive, but actually thrive. But then how do you pay the bills? This is my story of finding my "Support Job," and how I came to love working at ZogCulture.
When I graduated college in 2010 with a BFA in Musical Theatre, it was my goal to be a working actor. And (#humblebrag) I’m proud to say that I have been successfully working as an actor off-and-on for 11 years, in commercials and regional theaters across the country.
The catch is — acting jobs usually last about 5 weeks, and once they are over, actors are left searching for the next gig. Many are surprised to learn that actors very rarely get the opportunity to work on a show that lasts more than a year. And since money doesn’t grow on trees, actors are required to do something to keep the lights on and food on the table.
Enter, the “Survival Job.”
During the in-between times, most actors return to their “Survival Job.” In the industry, a “survival job” is defined as a job someone takes in order to pay the bills while pursuing a career they love. While survival jobs are often associated with actors, they can be necessary for people in all types of creative fields—dancers, visual artists, filmmakers, models… The list goes on.
As does the list of “Survival Jobs” I’ve had over the past 11 years in New York City. I have worked the standard “Survival Jobs” that attract most creative types: babysitter, bartender, waiter, etc.
But, I have also had my fair share of unconventional “survival jobs” too.
I once wore a pumpkin costume outside of a Halloween store to attract customers. For a whole month I stood inside of an industrial freezer that had a karaoke machine built into it to sell coats to tourists in Times Square. I once dressed up as a clown for a baby shower that ended in the soon-to-be-parents yelling and throwing wine glasses at each other. You could say I was living “the dream.”
“Survival jobs” are necessary for artists to chase their dreams.
The problem with them, though — well, it’s right there in the phrase isn’t it? - SURVIVAL. Don’t we, as artists, deserve more than to simply survive?
A friend once encouraged me to stop using the phrase “survival job” and, instead, replace it with “support job.” He explained that he believes we need to start talking about the jobs artists have during the in-between times as “small gifts that support our artistic career.” I took that to heart.
In late 2019, my restaurant job was draining me of my energy and time. It wasn’t supporting me financially or, most importantly, artistically. Having to work late nights behind a bar, and then trying to wake up at 5 A.M. to go to an audition the next morning was almost impossible. I made a decision to make room in my life for a job that was going to leave me feeling fulfilled and supported.
It took a while to find the right fit.
When I joined the ZogCulture team as an MC for virtual events, I quickly discovered what a great fit working for the right company could be. ZogCulture wasn’t afraid to let me embrace my strengths and bring fun to their clients — employees at companies large and small. I had struck gold.
Within a few weeks, I had carved out a space for myself in the company and started to climb the metaphorical ladder, working on administrative tasks to support the full-time team. Within 6 months, I was redesigning and elevating our product — looking at it from an artistic and theatrical lens. I was then given the responsibility of showing new staff members the ropes, something I’ve found a passion and excitement for.
Since I started working as a staff coordinator, I have aimed to provide a workplace for artists that it took me 11 years to find.
Namely, a reliable and fun job; a place that supports artists' ambitions and cheers them on when they book the next big gig; a place that welcomes employees back from their shows with open arms.
If I have learned anything from working at ZogCulture, it is that an artist's perspective can be extremely beneficial in the workplace. We think outside the box. We are hustlers. We learn fast and take direction well. Plus we’re fun!
My biggest advice for creative types?
Find the people and opportunities that support you and your goals. Don’t settle for ‘survival.’ You deserve more than that. You deserve happiness, growth, adventure, and artistic fulfillment.
And now, my advice for Hiring Managers.
Don’t discount the actor, the artist, the photographer, or the model. Take a chance on someone who has the potential to grow and learn. Just because they are pursuing their passion, that doesn’t mean they can’t also bring something valuable to your organization. You may be surprised at how much an artist’s perspective could benefit your company.
Looking to find your "support job" as part of the ZogCulture team? Send us your resume at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo sources: www.Canva.com & Tyler Bellmon