Addie writes: How far before you moved did you start applying for jobs? And did you have someone in LA line up an apartment for you before you got there, or did you hunt online before you left?
I think I started applying for jobs at least a month before I moved to LA, but I heard back about NONE of them. Actually, that's a lie - I got a call about working for HEROES (only because I had an alumni connection) but when I said I was still in Ithaca I nearly got laughed at. "I can be there soon," said Idealist New Graduate Amanda. "How soon is soon?" he asked. And when I computed the states and timezones it didn't quite add up. Guess what - I never worked for HEROES.
As much as you'll want to feel secure before you move here and find a job or at least an interview, it just isn't going to happen. Jobs in this town go VERY quickly, and people will expect you to interview in person immediately. Why should they wait for you or settle for a phone interview when there are dozens of people ready to come in tomorrow? Click on my Job Search label for more of my tales.
Save some money (I wish I took my own advice!), try your best to reassure incredulous relatives and just get in the car. When you get here you can always find temporary jobs like being an extra through Central Casting. Most people I know took about six weeks to find a job in the industry. It's tough - but remember how competitive it is.
When I came out here in college and got internships, I DID set up seven interviews ahead of time. Internships are easier because there's not usually a time deadline the way there is to fill an assistant position. Companies are generally looking for interns at the beginning of the semesters (January or August) or summer (May) - but it shouldn't be too hard to get one at any time of the year. I mean, it's free labor. Keep in mind many companies (especially more corporate places like studios and networks) will require that you receive college credit for your internship. Smaller production companies won't care.
As for the apartment, I was lucky enough to be set with an Oakwood apartment in college (many colleges put their students there, or in Park La Brea), and when I moved out here for good, my roommate was out here already and in charge of finding us a place. I remember standing at a dusty gas station, looking up at power lines that seemed to stretch forever against the cloudless Texas sky and saying sure, Sherman Oaks sounds nice. You can look online at home if you want to: Westside Rentals is the standard here in LA - it's not free, but Craigslist is slim pickins. But like jobs, good apartments get snapped up quickly too. You can peruse the listings anywhere, but it won't do you much good if you can't see what they look like, right? I've also blogged about the different neighborhoods in LA if you're wondering.
And some advice about the drive: Keep the music a little too loud and the AC a little too cold. It's easy to fall asleep in the flat states.