Clearly, I’m awful at posting updates to original things, but I got asked for Part 2 of this last night and realized how lazy I was, so here it is.
If you missed out on Part 1, here’s the link. It’s about my time in college and how I figured out I actually WANTED to host.
Now it’s time for the Dark Ages. At least, my own personal Dark Ages.
As I wrote in Part 1, I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Chapman University. I did not mess around — I wanted to give myself the best possible positioning to get a job once I got out of school. Even my favorite teacher shook my hand on graduation day, gave me a hug, and said, “You’re going to be fine. Unlike most of the kids here, you get it.” I felt empowered, and was optimistic about getting a decent job fairly soon after that moment. I interned at Jimmy Kimmel Live! I was brilliant, hardworking, and easy to get along with! Surely someone would see these things and snap a gem like me up!
I graduated in June of 2009 and started immediately sending out resumes.
What I didn’t realize was that I was graduating into what might have been the absolute worst job market for new college grads in decades (if not ever).
I’d sent out ~500 resumes, and only ONE had resulted in an interview (which I actually landed because a friend worked there), much less a job offer.
Christmas rolled around, and I was a mess. I cried randomly, I went into deep bouts of self-doubt on a weekly basis. It was a real low point. At one point, I saw a friend who got a gig on a huge show, and while we were hanging out at his place, a girl who was bitchy to me in school turned my way and evilly cooed, “So Ashley… where are YOU working?” It was mortifying. I bawled my eyes out the entire way home while my then-boyfriend (now husband) Jimi tried to console me.
I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I’m sure you’ve all been there. I tried really hard to convince myself that “Hollywood jobs come with long periods of unemployment” and that it was just part of the industry I’d chosen.
In January, Jimi sat me down and said he couldn’t stand to see me so sad all the time. He reminded me that I had an AWESOME support network: my family’s encouragement (and discounted rent), and a loving significant other willing to support us as I went after my dreams. Why would I want to work a 16-hour-a-day Production Assistant gig, when I didn’t want to be a producer? I had everything at my disposal to truly chase what I wanted to do (host), and it was crazy NOT to go for it.
Why this didn’t occur to me, I’m not sure. I think a lot of it had to do with how sad I was. I couldn’t see the good part of my unemployment. He was right. The next day, I started trolling Craigslist and casting websites for any hosting gigs I could find. I learned two very important things:
1. Craigslist is filled with gross scams and “producers” looking for “models,” and
2. I could totally find someone to hire me, even if I had to work for free.
In February 2010, I stumbled across an ad seeking Tech Hosts. I applied, and when I went in for the interview, they asked if I was familiar with Android.
“Of course! I know everything about it! My favorite part of technology!”
I’ve been a geek for a LONG time. Until that point, though, I’d mostly spent my time working in the gaming industry as a writer. I followed the crap out of the Palm Pre from announcement to launch, though, and I was very interested in the future of mobile tech. So yeah. I bullshitted through my teeth for that first job. I’ll admit it. No shame, and here’s why:
The second they told me yes, I went home and read EVERYTHING I could find on Android. Everything. If there’s one thing I’m great at, it’s learning. And boy did I learn about Android!
I hosted my very first This Week in Android the second week of February, and that’s how I got my start. Looking back, it’s terrible. I don’t know how they didn’t fire me Day 1. But they stuck with me. My gratefulness to Mark Jeffrey and Jason Calacanis for taking a chance on me is tremendous, and I will never, ever forget it.
If you want to see the difference, take a look at this:
My First Hosting Job:
My Penultimate Show at This Week In:
That’s in December of the same year. Huge difference, right?
TLDR: I got past my own personal Dark Ages and managed to do things my way instead of someone else’s — no small feat for me, and I’m very glad my husband poked me with a stick and told me I was being negative about some things that were actually very big positives.
Next time, I’ll tell you about how I got from This Week In to Logitech, G4, getting an agent and beyond!