‘What do you want to be when you grow up?‘ I remember being asked this question constantly when I was a little girl and always knowing the answer. First, I wanted to be a cat (yes – the animal)… Then, after I realized that wasn’t going to happen (ever), I thought up other ideas. I wanted to be an actress. A rock star. A writer. I wanted to be famous. A few years later, though, my perception of the world became slightly more realistic. I knew I couldn’t sing and I no longer had an interest in acting. But my aspiration to be in the world of entertainment didn’t go away. I became obsessed with making videos (of my cat). I continued to write scripts. And in high school, I was introduced to video editing and other television-related things. So, without a doubt in mind, I went to school for television production.
After 4 years of college, I was prepared for the real world. Or so I thought. I was passionate for the field I was going into (if you couldn’t tell from my childhood)… and I had 4 awesome internships… so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the working world was going to be like and I thought I would love it. However, I was wrong. In fact, I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into at all.
After graduating, there were barely any jobs for me to apply to in my area. And the ones that sparked my interest were either temporary, freelance, internships, or jobs with weekend and late night hours. ‘No thanks,’ my young, naive self said to all of the above. Okay well maybe not all of the above. I did get freelance work and I did complete 2 post-grad internships. However, working on the weekend and at night just did not interest me.
After working at my first post-college job (a very standard 9-5 desk job), I was bored. All my life I had dreamed about becoming a writer and/or a producer for a television series. I knew working at a desk 8 hours a day just wasn’t going to cut it for me, but as you could imagine, getting a job in television anywhere (especially an area NOT in NYC or LA) isn’t exactly easy. So… when I finally got a job in television, I was nervous. The job involved working odd hours (mornings, nights, weekends, holidays) and after working regular hours for a year, I had gotten kind of used to my free time. I was now going to have to wake up early, go to bed late, work while everyone else has the day off, sometimes give up weekends, AND try to make time for the gym through all this craziness.
Well… It’s been a little over 8 months since I started this job, and through it all I’ve learned that the long, crazy hours aren’t that bad when you’re doing something that you enjoy. Sometimes I have to go into work before 5am and sometimes I have to stay until 10pm (or later). Sometimes I work 8 hours a day and sometimes I work over 12. And although it can be stressful and tiring at times, in the end I enjoy what I’m doing and believe it will lead me to bigger, better things and that’s all that matters. Sure I receive overtime compensation, which is sometimes what keeps me going… But even if I didn’t receive that extra money, it wouldn’t matter because the spontaneous, ever-changing schedule makes the job so much more exciting. And I would much rather be busy and into what I’m doing at work than be bored in a cubicle doing monotonous work from 9-5 every day.
If you are ever faced with deciding whether or not to apply to a job that has weekend hours and/or may require you to work late nights, early mornings, and holidays… if you think you will enjoy the job and it will help advance your career, do it. It’s really not that bad. It’s not like you will be selling your life away to work. You won’t have to work every weekend… and if you do, you will get some days off during the week. If you have to go in early, you’ll most likely get out early. And if you have to stay really late, you will most likely be able to go in later in the morning (I’m talking until 10 – midnight+ late). Even if you take a typical ‘9-5’ job, you will most likely have days/weeks where you will have to work crazy hours. You can’t escape it… unless you settle. But for now, you shouldn’t have to. You’re young. You’re in your twenties. Once you have a family, you’ll need to spend time with them. Not to mention you’ll be older and tired with a million responsibilities outside work that you won’t be able to take jobs like this. I’m on-call some weekends. So what? I still go out a decent amount. I still am able to take trips. I still spend days doing absolutely nothing. It really isn’t that bad. You get through it.
So while you’re young and able, take a risk and apply for the job with crazy hours. You never know where it may lead you. Perhaps you won’t have an interest after your interview (if you even get the interview). And perhaps you will learn to hate the job after you start… But if that happens, no worries. Quit or start applying elsewhere. Your twenties are the time to try new things and figure out what you want to do with your life. No one said you have to do what you’re doing now forever.