The Day Job: What I Chose and Why

Isn’t is fun to daydream that one day you will be discovered as this magnificent talent and swept away into a life of financial security and acting jobs galore? Yes, for most actors this dream is alive and well. In the real world, most working actors do not make their living at it. So, actors have come up with creative ways to supplement their income.

You may have heard of many different types of career choices for actors, often times waiting tables or becoming a bartender is the easiest option; But those careers may not offer the long term solution to your problem-which is- Finding a position that you enjoy, with the flexibility to spend time honing your craft. In fact, many server and bartender positions are nighttime/weekend jobs, which in and of itself is not necessarily conducive to being your  most productive self.  Translation: Being exhausted and not wanting to jump out of bed for those 6:00am call times!

What I want to share with you are details about a job that is not talked about much, something you don’t study in school or necessary plan to work into your life, yet something that could be your secret to success between now and your big break! PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

WHY

I stumbled upon my career while living in Los Angeles and struggling to pay rent. I mean, let’s be real, unless you have money to burn, finding affordable housing anywhere in this country right about now is tough. This was my number one dilemma as a new Los Angeles resident, and as you know, location is everything! I wanted to be where the classes were, where the auditions were, where everything was. Today, I have been in property management 8 years and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. Here’s why:

  • I get free housing. Yep, you heard me. A company may give you a housing credit, or rent discount, but for most resident manager positions it works in their benefit to not only have an office on site but house management on site as well. It allows you to be present at all times and all hours for emergencies, tenant disputes and a plethora of other things. Either way, WINNING.
  • I work my own hours and my own schedule. Many companies require you to work 9:00AM-5:00PM, but some don’t. Either way, you are often working alone or unsupervised and you have the ability to sneak away to auditions as needed, and make up the time by staying late or clocking in on a weekend day. Discuss this with your supervising team. Work into your arrangement with the boss that you can come and go as you please and explain to them how they benefit, like not paying you overtime hours when you do make up those hours on an evening/weekend.
  • I meet tons of people! Networking, yay! Every day, I see new faces. Many people who choose to live at my properties are creatives: Writers, directors, actors, grips, technicians, relocation managers, makeup artists, photographers, etc. I have met and engaged with some of the most interesting and dynamic individuals because guess what?! Everyone needs a place to live!
  • Locations! Need a snazzy vacant apartment to film a scene in? Garden courtyard? Hallway? Parking lot? Your new job would give you instant access to all of the locations you manage. I’ve transitioned into commercial spaces as well, and you know what that means? Businesses! Empty doctor’s offices, restaurants and more! Of course, I never encourage filming without alerting property owners and acquiring property insurance, but most of the time everyone is pretty excited to be involved. As an added bonus, I get representatives from larger productions calling me up for properties as well. My apartments and homes have been featured on the TV show Grimm, and the feature film Wild with Reese Witherspoon. Big opportunity there for you to stick around while filming, be seen, make friends, and let everyone know – You are an actor.
  • Transfers. Property management is a job that translates easily across the country. When I moved back home to Oregon, finding a job was easy. Once the skill set is learned, you can apply it to any property management company anywhere. All it takes are some refresher courses to make sure you keep state mandated fair housing practices fresh in your mind. Some states have different laws than others, but for the most part they are very similar: Treat everyone equally, and do not discriminate.
  • Free Cable/Internet/Phone. A position and property that you acquire may offer several other perks that assist you in your dreams of being a working actor; a local landline or cell phone number will instantly up the anti and credit you with the appearance of being a long time residence of your new city. Believe it or not, some casting directors highly prefer seeing actors with local phone numbers. I think this must be changing in the digital age of video submissions and long distance casting correspondences, however it still cuts down on your acting budget! For obvious reasons, free internet and cable will also benefit you. Much of your acting ‘presence’ will be online (IMDB.com, CastingFrontier.com, CastingNetworks.com, personal website, etc), and good internet can cost you upwards of $50 a month! All of the little things add up, especially when you are struggling. A movie collection is great, but it could be dated, and the best way to keep tabs on your fellow actors is to catch shows current TV series, blockbusters, independent films, etc on cable (or Netflix!). Watch your favorite performers, study their work, find out what appeals to you or doesn’t, prep for that upcoming audition by watching a show that you may have never seen before- All are like acting classes, in their own right!

I know these incredible benefits are sounding pretty good to you right about now! Here’s how you get started:

HOW

Whenever you begin something new, it can feel a little daunting. Taking the first step and breaking into acting is hard enough, and if you have already done that then you can really push the envelope and reach for the stars! Acting in film or theater takes a special kind of courage, and I solute you. Breaking into a new career in property management is easy, but may take time. Here is how I did it:

  • Donate your time to learn the craft. Chances are, you are looking for an apartment to rent. When I first stumbled into a property management position, I was initially just looking for a place to call home. I went to view a room for rent in a house. The woman who met me was the owner of a very large place in Long Beach, Ca. (Suzanne, Red Peak Properties, 507 Rose Ave {Look for my initials in the cement near the driveway, lol}) and it just so happened that she didn’t want to take on the responsibility of leasing each of the rooms in the home individually. I proposed to take on that responsibility in exchange for one thing: A reference. She understood that I didn’t know much about management, but was willing to work with me. Looking back now, I would have tried to argue for a discounted or free rent as well. Alas, a reference turned out to be all that was needed. I agreed to stay on for one year, manage all of the turns (industry terminology for prepping an apartment before and after new people move in), all of the screening, and all of the financials. If you want to start the way I did, search for private owners on craigslist or call up a property management company and offer to intern for a certain length of time- as long as they send you away with their blessing, you will be free to begin a formal job search in the field of property management!
  • Change your resume. Take a look at your resume. Add in new goals, switch up the verbiage and make it reflect the skills that you obtained while interning on your first property. Most owners or property management companies welcome the opportunity to train a qualified individual. Look for ads like this one that I found online just now in less than a minute:

HOLLYWOOD ON-SITE APARTMENT PROPERTY MANAGER (1136-1160 El Centro)

Ben Leeds Properties (www.benleedsproperties.com) is currently seeking an on-site manager for our our 44-unit property, located at 1136-1160 El Centro, LA 90027. The unit will be available in mid-January. The manager receives a 2-bedroom/1-bath unit, plus $500 per month, plus additional bonuses.

Ben Leeds Properties manages over 125 apartment buildings in the Los Angeles area and provides managers full administrative and maintenance support.

Manager should have experience in all phases of apartment management including:
• The ability to lease apartments at top dollar, higher than the competition
• Collect Rents/ issue late/eviction notices
• Issue 3-day notices
• Work with Vendors and Repairman
• Must have computer and printer
• Must have reliable transportation for banking purposes
• Managers should have acceptable credit scores
• Understand Fair Housing laws and regulations

We are happy to train qualified applicants.
We look forward to receiving your resume.

In fact, I have worked for the above company and highly recommend them!

  • Pile on the experience. It is commonly known that most job moves are not lateral, meaning that if you start looking for a new position within a new company you will probably take on a better position and better salary the more you move around. The quicker you will rise on the ladder within your chosen line of work. Dedication to one job does look great on your resume, but if you show a few instances where you stayed on for at least a year and then peacefully embarked on a new journey somewhere else, no one will scoff at you. Good references are key here. I recommend that you make these moves for your first few years in management. Not only will you be able to learn a wide array of information on how several different owners like to do business and run their properties, you will make more money and relocate to better apartments each time (hopefully!). If you are fortunate, and find a position that you love, with people that challenge you and support you- then that is the time to stick around. Only move if you feel you are ready to take on more, and your current company cannot provide you with the responsibilities you desire.
  • Learn to manage your stress. Taking care of other people, especially when it comes to their homes, can be stressful. I can think of more than one occasion where I outright broke down and had a panic attack and thought I would just quit the whole thing. I promise, it is so, so worth it if you stick it out. Take a deep breath, remember how far you’ve come, take a break if you need to, and then get your butt back in gear. At the end of the day, this is a customer service industry and if you haven’t learned by now- people can be cruel. You have the potential of facing this in any line of work, so tackle it head on and be fearless, smile and keep on truckin’.
  • Keep a clean record. When going through the application and screening process for your new property management position, be prepared that they will screen you as an on site tenant as well. Their full criminal/credit background check will be conducted, and if they expect you to have transportation than a driving record check will be conducted as well. They will look at everything including blips on your credit report. Keep this in mind. In not only this position, having a clean record will benefit you.
  • Be Honest. Remember when I said you could work your own hours? Sneak away for auditions? Of all of the jobs I have ever held, property management stands out as the line of work that has instilled the most trust in me as an employee. You will be let go quickly if employers find that you are not completing your responsibilities as a manager, and the little things that you may neglect on a property will catch the owner’s eye if they ever stop by unannounced. BE HONEST. It is worth it for the feeling of pride you will have when admiring a job well done!

 

That’s it!

Finding the right line of work is a rewarding experience. Many people follow the expectations of others and miss out on what might make them happiest in life. Always think long and hard before making any major changes in your career field, but also remember that you are never too old or too young to be brave and try something new! I hope this post enlightens some people to negotiate better terms surrounding their acting dreams, and I hope you give property management a shot.

 

To culminate my post…

Take a look at this video snapshot of my beautiful home today, a historic converted carriage house with huge doors the size of an entire wall, all compliments of my current job. I love the peace and tranquility that the fresh rain brings right in to my living room: My House.

Some other unique properties I manage today:

7 thoughts on “The Day Job: What I Chose and Why

  1. “She understood that I didn’t know much about management, but was willing to work with me. Looking back now, I would have tried to argue for a discounted or free rent as well. ”

    Um, no. First off you got really lucky and landed a job without training or experience, let alone any actual secondary education (usually a must for property management jobs). I don’t see any courses or certifications which would go a long way to making a career out of it especially what with new regs and acts coming down the pipeline from the government, state and federal. You ignore the fact that these jobs are also not in great abundance either which the same can be said of bartending or wait staff jobs (which for men would require prior experience or training combined with a food handling cert and alcohol serving cert, while women only need the latter two) but those jobs pay very well if you are a woman and work the busy nights. Who gives a damn about having to get up the next morning for an early call time? It’s life and it’s not an everyday thing. If you work in a bar then don’t get hammered after the shift. Adults have to get up for work even if they run way too close together in scheduling (like with first responders and it’s pretty regular).

    You’re just another harpie who was handed work opportunities without having to actually earn it or meet the same requirements as men do. Just take a look at various LinkedIn profiles and you can see that is the case for most. Same with networking. People tend to want to network with young and presentable women rather than men for various reason especially if it’s in regards to public interaction/ relations. Speaking of which, brand ambassador jobs and product specialist jobs at trade shows tend to be only open to women but pays very well. You have options. Don’t act like you’re a guru of any kind.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. You’re mistaken about what I should have asked for, as I was doing many positions and not just one, and looking back now I still agree a full rent comp would have been more just (Not only was I managing, but I was also the entire accounting department, a maintenance director, and much more). Over the years since, I have acquired certifications and sales awards. I have worked very hard to get to where I am, and I’m not sure your harsh criticism is warranted. In many positions, a lucky break may come along and someone simply works a job for a while- in my case, I found a true calling and something I’m passionate about. I believe that the kind women who first gave me a property management job saw that capacity in me.

      This past week, my early call times were 3:40am- So, in reply to your comment regarding not wanting to get up early, it would be rather foolish of me not to have a position where I could easily be in bed by 6-8pm and feel refreshed and ready in the morning at whatever time they need me instead of hustling a bar or busy restaurant scene all evening and somehow by god’s grace managing to catch a couple zzz’s and get up on time, only to feel groggy and sleep-deprived.

      Greg, I’m not sure why my post made you so angry, but I would humbly advise you to go through life with a little more grace and compassion. The fact that I am a woman seems to bother you deeply, and I’m sorry that you feel I’ve somehow managed to get an ‘upper hand’ in life. That’s something you should probably talk to a professional about.

      Since this post is several years old, I’ll also add an update: I’m still in property management, I’m still a working actor, and I’ve just purchased my own historic 31 unit apartment complex in Portland. I’ve been successful, I’ve saved my money, I’ve worked hard and none of that you can “blame” on LUCK.

      😊

  2. Let’s see, you only have a high school diploma yet such jobs require several years of experience with at least some college if not a 4 year degree. You are tasked with marketing and accounting and yet no coursework of any kind in sight.

    1. Hi Greg, Property Management requires no diploma, and many companies will train. Nowadays, I can see that diplomas are sought after in that line of work (as they are in most lines of work), but it was especially common ten years ago not to have that specific education. And I could find property management positions on LinkedIn currently without that requirement. Curious where you’ve acquired your facts?

  3. #GregCallen..
    So after thouroughly reading your, Ignorant, grammatically incorrect, sexist and much more, of which I won’t write on such a beautiful website and personally I’d rather tell you the rest in person, for a couple, simple facts… I too have JUST a high school diploma, of which, I barely skated by because I’m a guy and I wanted to ditch. But I was also involved in everything and wanted a break my junior year. Nevertheless, Not Having my ‘Associates, Bachelors, MBA, Doctorate or much further than “Some College” I chose to take another route due to My person skill sets, Attitude, Aspirations, Drive, Motivations, Desires and My Sheer Will to become successful! I was (in Highschool) my JROTC’s Battalion Command Sergeant Major, I graduated, then after being a couple full ride scholarships through the military ( because I choose to fight for those of which themselves cannot or in your case and I’m just throwing a dart in the middle of a corn field at midnight here, you did not sir. And thank the gods if you had, your out writing nonsensical drivel, in which you tear apart a woman and her success, moreover, all while sitting in a chair with mommy issues, a severe unsuppressed rage, following up with a bowl movement of non factual, judgmental and plainly put, drunken attitude, of which is completely unsubstantiated, tactless, hurtful and unnecessary, to say the least. You can not spell properly – “ I would have argued for a discounted or free rent” It’s a “Discount Or perhaps Free Rent” and why? You left that, I’m Certtain, Reasonably explainable tidbit out, Odd. As you continued to sound intoxicated by her success and your lack therein, you state that marketing and management and her lack of any certs. or furthered education… did you ask to see her Doctrine or perhaps her Results Speak for themself. Continuing on with you and your poetry I find myself thing, “Wow, I don’t have a Cert. in marketing, management, underwater basket weaving either! Crap. I wonder Why I too have been incredibly successful in all and more. I can’t belive I can’t walk and chew gum.” I’ve successfully managed retail establishments, of which I, the Youngest Male, to be far either sex, in this companies History to have that position at the time, but I must have had the owner as my dad or girlfriend, if In your world of law and common sense. Furthermore, marketing, sales, customer service, I even, wait for it… own my very own IT and IT Security Business – and that was after spending close to $100,000 to gain full custody of my daughter and raise her as a Single Father. I would Love to know what these “regs and more” that are coming from the government?!? But, alas, Not posted nor are substantiated, in place, law or otherwise. Now I do know that bar tending and waiting are in Immensely High Demand and All restaurants and bars hold Such Incredibly Sky Hish (one might say) “unachievable” or “unmatchable to a male, standards, but I’m Quite Certain That if you open up almost any newspaper, jobsote, beck goto the DHS office and I’d bet even You, yes you Sir, could get one in a day, that’s including but not limited to an application, getting off out of your chair and doing something AND I still bet you’d get it – cause your a guy Right! And we men only deserve the very best because we work harder, we’re smarter…… sorry I ate a little bit of vomit there… Sir, those Are Not “High Demand Jobs/Careers” and to boot They don’t require men to have prior work experience or a post high school education At All in many to Most cases, dude ya buss tables, write down food and bring people what they asked you to write down OR order to get bombed I
    Mid day at hooters (at the bar, I love their buffalo wings).
    And, Pretty Please tell me what you know of First Responders! Have you ever done anything to assist, save another human, help them out of a crisis Or Taken a bullet out of a friend? Now at this point if we were, let’s say, being non professional ( hah, similarly to your retort and egregious rebuttal comments to this young womans, Quite frankly, we’ll written and articulate piece, we would, I would slander and make similar, discouraging, hurtful comments toward you sir. I digress. So then she, which by the way has a name and believe it or not a face, heart, and seemingly more brains, b*lls, and gut quenching thirst for success than you’ll ever begin to imagine, that’s giving you a Very big leash and more, but to state as it were law, fact, perhaps even biblically carved into stone as an eleventh commandment, especially with state and federal government, (you could have also just said government Or actually been more informative, specific, but….. ya didn’t, sadly I might add. Then you said that she was just ‘Gifted’ it (my words) because she didn’t nor doesn’t need to “meet the same standards as men do.” WOW! Have you been in Any if the positions of which you speak of? Woman, in so many cases, aren’t privy to the “A typical and stereotypical standards” as men are and to be clear as oxygen here that means they Generally Must work immensely harder, more hours, dealing with hypothetical people and many other stereotypes that are, to the core, prejudicial, unfair and otherwise stating how you put it, or how I Read your words so eloquently put, they’re just not right for a mans job, world and should be in the kitchen or partying I belive is somewhat what sounded to me when I read you condescending words.
    Now I’d LOVE to know what you meant by the phrase you used where you spoke of basically that women are Only Pretty Faces or A faced put out in a dress to make the “men” buy (not the woman, the product) So are they merely “Bait” then?
    Sir, Mr Callen, your comments, language, misuse or terminology, grammar, punctuation, and Most Importantly, your choice of unclear, non factual information and mainly your overall attitude toward woman absolutely enrages Myself – As A Man, Father of a daughter, of whom you just insulted by a profound way makes me not only sick to my stomach, saddened for whom ever reads your fat fingered keyboard trash and worse even yet, that your a man that has created a fictional narrative of which the rest of us, Real Men, who Proudly Stand behind, support and encourage Woman all over the globe and at home, I feel ashamed to be a man in your world and disgraced beyond measure.
    Grab a “Mad Magazine” and please allow the grownups or Adults read, enjoy and do so with our heads held high and proudly so, alone and if need be in the absenteeism of your child like, poorly written and hurtful along with just ignorant rants. The Grownups Were Talking And now are talking, time for your medication and your snack pack with a cheerful smile knowing you just obliterated some young persons (woman’s in present case) hard and I’m sure very much earned, passion, dedication and success in a well read article of which was nothing about, nor described in any such fashion you and you shred it to bits just with the typing at your keyboard while She, Successfully I might add, did so with integrity and without prejudice or otherwise toward you. I live in Iowa at the present time and from Oregon originality and abroad and I’m pleased as punch to post anything you would like in terms of how to reach me.
    Until the next iD10t error occurs,
    Thank you all for your time and patience with me!

    Chris
    Call signs;
    Blackmatter / WildCard

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