So one of the most painful experiences of my executive career was when Amblin didn’t pick up my option for a third year. I wasn’t surprised – and they didn’t fill the position for two years after that – but it still hurt.
It took me about six weeks of buying unnecessary clothing purchases and driving around town listening to Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, while the tears poured down my face, to get through it. But I survived and went on to even better gigs. You can too.
Here are some of the things that helped me.
- Wallow in it for a full week. Scream, cry, buy shoes or obsessively play video games, eat ice cream, worry your family and friends sick.
- Put it in perspective. Talk to other friends who’ve been through this. If you can find other people who were fired by the same person who fired you, all the better. Find stories of famous people who have been fired, yes, you and Albert Einstein got the axe.
- Lick your wounds and move on. Acknowledge you’re still in pain, but move forward any way you can. Ask friends for help, take baby steps. Create something new, redo your resume, draft a cover letter to use later.
- Critical self-evaluation. Now that you have some of the tears and rage behind you, ask yourself, was there anything you could have done differently or better? Sometimes, you have to take some responsibility but other times, you might have done nothing wrong and there were other factors in play that were out of your control.
- Craft your story. Be able to tell people what happened but put it in a positive light. Don’t talk shit about anyone, even if they were awful. If all else fails, you can always say it was fascinating to work with such a big personality. And now you have these new contacts!
- Start again. Network, start new projects, and put the word out to anyone who will listen that you’re looking for a new opportunity. Keep it up until you land. And remember, helping other people makes you feel better. Recommend that friend to an agent or buy the homeless guy a sandwich.
Let me know what strategies you’ve found helpful. Tweet me @CaroleKirsch. I’d love to hear from you.
Director of WGA’s Showrunner Training Program, creator & Director of the CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program, international speaker and a leading expert on entertainment career strategies, Carole Kirschner teaches creative professionals how to break in, move up and navigate the business. Her book, Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment is a primer on how to break in and make your mark in the entertainment industry. Through her popular workshops, including her Virtual Course: “Hollywood Bootcamp: How to Get Your First (or Next) Job in Entertainment,” Carole teaches writers, producers, directors and executives the real world strategies that will help them blast past barriers and take their careers to the next level.