In my search for jobs, I will often apply for administrative positions. This is because I know I can perform these jobs, and dare I say, excel in them. However, most employers take one look at my education (a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Film) and refuse to look any further. They tell me my qualifications are not what they are looking for in these positions. Never mind that I have actual administrative experience, the fact that I have producing experience seems to disqualify me from these roles like nothing else.
In honor of more rejections to the administrative field than I care to recount, here is why being a producer should increase my value in administrative positions, not decrease it.
Most administrative positions require three things: a high level of organization and efficiency, the ability to communicate effectively with others, and quick-on-your-feet thinking to solve any issues that arise. For the next few minutes, I want you to forget about my two years administrative experience during which I was responsible for file management and beating deadlines. I want you to forget about my four years retail experience and five years customer service experience during which I established great relationships with clients and co-workers, and listened to and effectively dealt with customer service complaints so they would keep coming back. And I want you to forget that in all of these jobs, I’ve been flexible. When something goes wrong, I’m the one who says, “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do.” Have you forgotten all that? I thought so: you’re still stuck on the whole production experience thing.
First, you should know I’m only ever interested in jobs that utilize my skillset: administration, communication, creative solutions. I chose Radio, Television, and Film because production uses all of these skills that I’d had for years, developed in those positions I’ve asked you to forget about. So when I apply to an administrative position it’s not just because I know I can do it, but that I will also enjoy doing it, and will be able to do it well.
Exactly how does my production experience translate to an administrative position? I am glad you asked. As an independent producer, I wear many hats: administrator, chief communicator, and problem-solver.
- Administration, requires high levels of organization and efficiency. Let’s talk about production planning for a minute here, because all you see is the five-minute video, or the thirty-minute program. In the course of a production, I oversee (and am often directly-involved in) budgeting, script-writing, casting, location scouting and logistics (power sources, lighting, acoustics,..), equipment and facility rentals, and scheduling rehearsals and shoots. It is my job to anticipate the needs of my cast and crew and to plan accordingly. All of this is done months in advance to make sure production time is spent on, well, the production itself.
- Communication, requires the ability to effectively communicate with others. Let’s talk about the people I work with for a minute, because you only see the polished performances by actors in the five-minute video, or the thirty-minute program. Many different types of people work on any given production; on some level, all of them are artists. Much as I love artists and what we bring to the table, they can be among the most difficult people to work with because we are so individualistic. (Yes, that’s my nice way of saying we’re divas). When I head up a production, it is my job to learn about and incorporate their unique visions as part of the whole. It is my job to inspire them to procure their best work for the production, to help them understand their value. I listen to complaints and resolve them on a daily basis.
- Creative Solutions, require quick-thinking and analytical problem-solving skills. It doesn’t matter how much planning goes into it, or how inspired the cast and crew are to do their best, something will inevitably go wrong on production day. Someone will be late to the set with a vital piece of equipment, someone gets offended about something and walks off five minutes before we’re scheduled to shoot,… You get the picture. It’s my job to make sure we pull off a successful production anyway, and I always do. It might involve rigging up a temporary lighting instrument, or going after the offended party and begging on my knees for them to get back in the game, or just doing what they were going to do myself, but it gets done, and it gets done well.
So, tell me again how my production experience doesn’t qualify me to work in an administrative position? I know, you’ve just been picturing me as this artsy type who spends all of her time behind a camera, and is just desperate to get any paying job. Besides the fact that camera work is one of my least favorite aspects of production, I’m not desperate. I do have a paying job, and I do my production on the side (but you’re right, I’m not paid for that…yet), but really I’m just looking for something that is going to use and develop what I am most strongly skilled in.
In case you’ve forgotten, that’s administration, communication, and creative solutions.