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The Best and the Worst of Survival Jobs

June 12, 2012

I’ve had my fair share of side jobs, mostly of the babysitting variety, but my experience includes (but is not limited to):

Selling coffee and donuts to cranky customers (this was my very first job in high school!); waiting tables in a small, family-owned restaurant; working as an administrative assistant at a government contractor in D.C.; temping as a receptionist (kill me now); walking dogs for a woman who owned a dog walking business; working special events; and, of course, the aforementioned babysitting, which I did part-time for the better part of 10 years and full-time for over a year.

Waiting tables and serving food was just not for me — having to keep a bright smile on while being degraded by customers who obviously thought I was beneath them was just too much for me, and I admire the patience of people who do it every day. Or maybe I just worked in the wrong places, who knows?

Babysitting was always something I was really good at — I started when I was 11 years old, and kids and moms alike always loved me. And I’ve always loved kids, too. How can you not love faces like these:

Admittedly, these are my sisters, so I’m a little biased…but you get the point.

Over the course of my 10+ years of babysitting and nannying, I watched sweet, little newborns, and super active toddlers, and even 10-year-old twins. I loved being a part of their lives, and getting paid to have fun with kids.

But once I graduated from college and needed to do it full-time? It was exhausting. Being a “mother” (or especially a mother) all day is a LOT of work, and I was just so drained at the end of the day. There wasn’t enough left of me to make a career out of acting.

So with the help of my brilliant and business-savvy mother, (thanks, Mom!), I started my own dog business called Midtown Bed ‘n Biscuit. Thinking it would supplement my income so I didn’t have to babysit as often, after less than a year, I had surpassed what I was ever making at a day job.

So I want to encourage you to keep searching for that perfect survival job if you haven’t found it yet. And if it isn’t out there, start your own business! I promise, it’s not as hard as you might think. And to me, finding the perfect flexible-lucrative-enjoyable survival job is one of the most crucial things you can do for your acting career.

What are your creative survival job ideas? Have you ever considered running your own business?

P.S. Is this post overflowing with cuteness, or what?!?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2012 11:09 am

    Ms. Redhead–I love that you never miss an opportunity to flaunt your sisters…because they are definitely adorable!!!

    I have had so, so many jobs! Working at a golf course (9th-hole hotdog girl); packing cookies at a cookie factory in Queens (I lasted one day); waiting tables (I am agreed with you on that one); shoe model (an epic nightmare!).

    I absolutely applaud you in discovering and creating a business that keeps you financially afloat, allows you time to audition and one that you clearly love doing.

    I think this–stable and flexible work–is one of the keys to being able to be a sustainable actor in New York City.

    Now I am running my own business and I am actually quite grateful for all of the different experiences that I have had. It has given me a perspective of just how I want to run my own business. And what really feels wonderful, is knowing that I am using all of my skills doing something that I really love to help others.

    Congratulations on all that you continue to create and thanks for your compelling post!

    • June 12, 2012 5:53 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your stories! I simply cannot picture you working in a cookie factory, haha. I love that you run your own business, too, and that it keeps you so fulfilled. And yes, clearly I take every opportunity to share how adorable my sisters are. Even though I can’t really take any credit for it 🙂

  2. California Triple-Threat permalink
    June 12, 2012 12:40 pm

    Mad props to you and others who can run a business beyond the business of acting! It seems overwhelming. And yes, there is oh so much cute in this post!! 🙂

  3. The British Dancer permalink
    June 12, 2012 8:15 pm

    If only I wasn’t afraid of dogs and even more scared of other people’s children! Those dogs do look pretty cute though. Performing and having a side business..that’s the dream!

  4. June 13, 2012 9:45 am

    I couldn’t agree more! I started a dog services business in 2006 to support my acting habit, and the balance is crucial for my long term goals. Like you said, “finding the perfect flexible-lucrative-enjoyable survival job is one of the most crucial things you can do for your acting career.”

  5. June 13, 2012 11:23 am

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been wanting to start my own business as a Virtual Assistant for a while now, and this just may be that little bit of inspiration that pushes me over the edge to just sit down and DO it. Love your snappy and cute business name by the way 😉


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