The Design of Moving Your Friends in NYC
Today I helped a friend move. This isn’t really a rare thing in New York City, people move apartments all the time here in search of the perfect apartment with the right rent and the best space, however, during COVID times, moving is different. Since March, I’ve helped 6 friends move. The first 2 gave up their lease in favor of staying elsewhere - one in Cleveland, OH and one in upstate NY. Another moved in with his girlfriend 10 blocks north, usually a cause for celebration, but this time it felt a little empty since our usual post-move celebrations were spent eating pizza out of the box in a median on Broadway. Another has decided to become an Air Traffic controller, and since he had no job keeping him busy in the meantime while he waits for his training to start, he didn’t want to keep paying high rent either. Today's move was a return, and it felt different. An old coworker had escaped to his girlfriend’s family home near the beach and they were finally coming home.
Last January I either had amazing foresight or terrible timing and quit my job in theatre design to pursue tech design (which when I tell my friends feels very ironic because my degree was referred to as tech/design in college). Simultaneously great and terrible, I was slammed for the first 3 months of quarantine. I was one of the rare cases among my group of theatre friends to have a schedule and things to do. A blessing and a curse, I don’t think I left my apartment for the entire month of April. But my friends were stagnant. My partner, a very successful and always very busy video technician for Broadway shows, was about to leave for an out-of-town tryout for a new show, others had to fire all of their staff before they themselves were let go, others just left and never went back.
Luckily, as smaller things pick up again, they’re finding new sources of income. Theatre people are crafty! We have lots of skills in so many different areas that lend themselves to new careers. Here is where I’ve run into a block. I have years of design and management experience: how can I even begin to explain that in the stack of cover letters that all the jobs I’m applying to? I’ve been frustrated with my lack of connections in the tech realm and stuck between wanting to increase that number and the crippling phone and email anxiety that leaves me hovering over the send button when I try to reach out.
But today feels different. Seeing old coworkers from an amazing job, having a good email exchange with a connection, finding my place a little bit more in the tech world, it’s a little more real today. It feels a little bit like I’m unpacking my own truck of stuff and setting up my new career/apartment/life. I know that there will be good, hopeful days and really discouraging, hard days in my job hunt, but these different days keep me moving forward. So how do you explain a career pivot from an industry that is literally never supposed to be seen? A few tips:
You’re not backstage anymore, make your presence known.
Adding your friends on LinkedIn isn’t nepotism, they know you and want to help you!
Think about all the times you’ve had a director walk in to see the lime-green base coat of something that’s supposed to be brown - you’ve just got to add the rest of the layers!
Help others, they want to return the favor (but you have to ask!)
And I must say, if you ever have to move, hire some stagehands - they know how to pack a truck better than anyone.