Los Angeles is probably the hardest city to move to when you’re fresh out of college. If you don’t know anyone here, you don’t have a job already lined up, and you haven’t got much money saved -- you might want to hold off on making that mission. It can be a tough city to find a good job in, because there are millions of people competing with you, and most have a bigger network and years of work experience. Looking at it from the opposite perspective, though, it’s such an expansive metropolis; it’s headquarters to endless businesses of all types and sizes, and you just never know what opportunity might find you. Well, that sounds pretty passive. You’ve got to be prepared and be ready to grind like crazy. Opportunities won't just tumble in your direction -- but they will appear if you put yourself out there to find them.
Uprooting your life in search of a new one is a huge risk, but with great risk comes great reward.
My transition to LA from Maryland/DC -- all the way across the country -- had challenges, stressful times, and bumps along the road, but I actually got pretty lucky with the way it all fell together. Ever since arriving at the end of January, I’ve been making steady progress with consistent small victories, and I’m quite pleased with how I’m handling the hugest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s going to take a while before I feel completely settled in, meet new friends, and become knowledgeable about the vast LA, but I’m definitely on the right track, and I'm still ecstatic to be here!
So, how did I end up in LA anyway? Long story short, I came here for vacation and ended up never going back. The end. Lol, but for those who want to dig into the details, feel free to proceed.
One of my oldest girlfriends, Tamika, who I’ve know for almost 20 years now and is more like a sister, knew she wanted to live in Los Angeles since middle school. She’d never been, she didn’t have family here, she just knew. She brought me along for her first visit during her 21st birthday in 2012, which reconfirmed her love for the sunny city and laid back West Coast vibe. I’d been to southern California on a couple vacations with my family and grew the same admiration, but I doubted I could ever move that far away from my hilarious dad and mommy/rock.
Still, I knew I didn’t want to live in Maryland forever. In my senior year of high school, I had made a literal last-minute decision to stay in-state and go to the University of Maryland, right there in my home county, which meant that I’d spent my ENTIRE life (over two decades) within a 15 mile radius. The DMV will always have my heart, but I couldn’t fade (DMV translation: 'can't fade' = it's not my preference) living there forever without experiencing life in a different city. I can’t stay in one place for too long. I love to travel, I love seeing and embracing big cities, and frankly, I love good weather. Thus, I became determinant upon moving within a year after graduating college.
Meanwhile, Tamika made serious moves with her government job to get her behind out of DC and transferred to an LA field office as SOON as she could. I was nothing but inspired by her persistence and taking the necessary action in making the move to her dream city happen. We’d talked about moving together, but I knew that I’d definitely need a job first because I was going broke just thinking about affording to exist in such an expensive place.
I was working for the government in DC as well, but applied to jobs elsewhere for months. I really wanted to get out of DC. LA, Miami, and Atlanta were my cities of choice -- LA having been number one by far. My job was part of a government employment program for college students, where students start as trainees and then become converted to full-time employees after graduation. I never wanted to continue working there over the long run. To be honest, it was a complete snooze fest, and I wasn’t doing anything even remotely related to the career I wanted to really pursue. I didn’t seek out being converted to full time because I didn’t want to commit to a job I would hate, nor did I want to commit to staying in DC.
My internship had ended, and I spent a few more months applying for jobs and running a small jewelry/waistbeads business with my mom. Since I’d moved out of my college apartment towards the end of the summer, I lived at home and didn’t have many expenses, so I tried to save as much of my jewelry income as I could. None of the out of town jobs I contacted were responding, which made me realize that I was likely never going to get a job in Los Angeles while living in Maryland.
I had to think about it. Employers have thousands of entry-level candidates who are already local, so why would they hire someone they can’t even interview face-to-face, and who’d they’d have to wait on to move? 9 times out of 10, they won’t. It’s unfortunate, but I totally get why. This typically only happens when employers are visiting college campuses for recruiting purposes and assisting with relocation expenses. I hadn’t been recruited by anyone during my time in college, so my job search was all a matter of me riding out and getting it on my own.
My 23rd birthday rolled around in January, and as a birthday gift, my mom gave me reign over the Southwest flying miles she’d accrued. She suggested I visit Tamika in LA, partly for a vacation, and partly to scope out any job opportunities. Even though my mom always cries about how far away she is from her baby (lol), it was her idea that really got me here! And I can't go without mentioning how my father graciously provided his baby girl with a little cash to live on for my trip.