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nayeight's avatar

Can anyone offer me a bit of career advice?

Asked by nayeight (3337 points ) July 27th, 2010

Hey fluther, it’s been awhile! So I finally graduated from college with a B.A. in Commercial Photography (yeah, pretty stupid right?) and now I’m ready to start my beaming career (hah!). Currently, I work part-time at Pier 1 Imports as a Sales Leader (a degrading term for a less important assistant manager with all the responsibilities but few perks). I make around $11/hr, usually get around 20–30 hours a week and I live with my parents for free. I have few expenses right now because my parents agreed to pay for my car and insurance while I was in school but now that I’ve graduated, I know that soon they will hand those expenses over to me. I was planning on going to grad school in Savannah (because I don’t know what else to do, I really like school, I really liked THAT school, and my parents were offering to pay) but unfortunately I was not accepted for the graduate program.

So now my parents and friends are telling me that I need a real job and I agree with them. I live in a small town so the odds of me finding a job in my field around here are slim to none. I will most likely have to relocate and I’m okay with that, though I’m not a big fan of large cities. I’m still in a bit of a rut from being rejected from the grad school of my dreams and I honestly don’t even know where to begin my career search. I have no idea what I want to do, I just know that I want to do something that relates to my field of photography.

Yesterday morning out of the blue, the store manager of the Pier 1 in Savannah called letting me know that their store has a job opening for the same exact job I have now but they are looking to fill it within the next 2–3 weeks. My younger friends say that I should move to Savannah right now and somehow see if I can take non-credit courses at the school I want to attend and then re-apply next year or just see what else I can find there. They say why not move and take a chance now while I am young and there is nothing holding me down… or whatever. My mother thinks I should move to Philadelphia, where I do have a lot of family to stay with, and find a job there where there is more opportunity for a job in my field. I like the idea of moving to Savannah but I’m scared that my measly paychecks won’t be enough to support myself. I hate Philadelphia but I really do want to find a real job and I know thats a good place to start.

I just feel lost. I don’t know what I want but I do know that I don’t want to spend another 6 months where I am right now. I feel like I just need something, anything, to happen but I don’t know how to make it happen for myself. Does anyone out there have any advice for me at all? Thanks in advance and sorry this is so long.

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11 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Without knowing any more than this, I would say go to Savannah as long as you can find a decent place to live that’s within your means. You can get by on a lot less than you think you can. Don’t commit to school until you see how much you can handle, though. This is a great opportunity to be on your own, find out what you can do, and think about things.

YARNLADY's avatar

Wow, a retail manager – that is a worthy goal. In my husband’s company a good (and I mean exceptional) retail manager has made the company so valuable, they have been sold several times and are still a cash cow for the investors. You have got it made if you can bring it off.

Recently, at a company meeting, the retail managers who have been the best managers based on their sales records all received all expense paid trips to Hawaii for their family.

Cruiser's avatar

Take the job and moonlight as an intern at a commercial photographer. Learn everything you can about lighting and digital photo editing and crank out the work to build a portfolio! Good luck!

Jeruba's avatar

@Cruiser has a good idea. Use your photography skills on the side to pick up extra cash and experience that’ll be a foundation for work in your field once you’re ready to move on from retail.

perspicacious's avatar

The job is important. But going to a city you hate is a horrible idea. Do you hate all large cities? Hopefully not; Savannah is certainly not a small town. That’s something you need to come to terms with because that is where the career for which you are credentialed will take you. Home and careers are big pieces of the happiness pie. I hope you can find a place to find satisfaction in both.

Coloma's avatar

Why not start your own Photography biz. ?

Weddings, portraits, pets, sports teams, apply at a local newspaper for a job maybe?

Go around and take random photos in your town and then offer them for sale to the newspaper.

Get creative!

Don’t waste your schooling, talent and passion…go for it!

nayeight's avatar

Thanks so much for the quick feedback. I really do like that Idea of maybe interning or assisting a more experienced photographer while I work and even the bit about starting my own business. You need money to start a photography business though, for lights and a studio. I have a lot of experience with digital photography. I know how to use lights, how to edit photos, etc. I think I really just don’t feel confident enough to put myself out there.

@perspicacious I don’t hate all large cities, I guess if I had to pick a large city to live in it would be Philadelphia because I am familiar with it. I do really hate New York though, I guess I’m just not a fan of the noise, the people, etc. but I do appreciate the culture and variety found in large cities.

funkdaddy's avatar

To add to what Coloma said, perhaps creating some stock photography would give you some needed cash and help you build your professional network. Sites like istockphoto.com could be a good place to start.

I’m not a photographer, and I’m sure to some extent some photographers feel these sites devalue their work. But it seems like a great way to a) meet other photographers (they aren’t just buy/sell sites, they have communities that build up around them) b) get some first hand experience in what sells and what doesn’t c) expand your portfolio and d) have some fun, all while making a bit of cash.

You can also do it anywhere you like, New York photographers don’t make any more than Savannah based photographers when it’s all going online.

Good luck with it, I hope you find a great opportunity.

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Andreas's avatar

@nayeight It’s great you have a passion that can and should make you successful. As @Cruiser and @Jeruba said: Take whatever job you can get, develop your photographic skills, especially in digital, and learn all you can about the Internet, as that’s where a lot of the future will be for employment/business. You’re young, without too many responsibilities, so use that to your advantage and develop a photographic business on a part-time basis. (Free software is available so you may watermark your photographs against theft.)

You might also start a blog showcasing your works in a photographic blog of, say, where you live. The idea is to get your name out there.

Cover weddings, not so much to make money, but to build a reputation. (Cover your costs, though!) One line of photographic work can easily transfer with a slight change in mindset and creativity.

A book I can recommend is by John Dillon at http://artofthesong.org/ It’s called “The 20–20 Creativity Solution” and is very encouraging. The cost is about $US15.00 and well-worth your consideration. There’s a free newsletter you can sign up for and their weekly radio show is excellent too. The radio shows are also archived on site for later listening. It’s all online.

I hope this helps. Go for it!

hrcmatt's avatar

Were you trying to get into SCAD? I was accepted there. Wait and submit your application + a good portfolio next semester. As for Savannah, I love it. One of my favorite towns ever. Since it is in fact a college town, it will be easy to find a roommate that you can afford with a steady job at Pier One. Savannah is also an art-friendly town, if you are interested in photography, there will be internships and galleries around.

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