Q. In CRAFTY TV WRITING, you say that working for a literary agent is the best way to learn about the industry without going to school. I would love to try this, but need to figure out how to get into an agency. Do you have any advice on how to approach getting a volunteer position to work for a literary agent?
I would say, call up agencies and ask if they could use a volunteer!
One thing that may complicate the situation is that I am not just starting out in life...I am a college instructor and a professional in a different field. I know they offer volunteer positions and internships for college kids, but I would not qualify for that type of situation. I just moved to LA, so am new to the area. I also have a lot of experience with writing and reading, so I think I have applicable skills, but I am confused as to how to get in there.
The recent lawsuit by the BLACK SWANS
interns has complicated things. Used to be, anyone could offer to be an intern. Technically, interning is against minimum wage laws, but no one much paid attention to that, because everyone benefited from the system. Companies got free, if unskilled, work. Interns got to learn how to do things they didn't know how to do, like read scripts, or call agencies about actors.
The BLACK SWAN interns sued, and won, because they were abused, or so I gather. The company had them doing pure office work that had nothing to do with learning showbiz, such as filing pay stubs.
I think companies may now be more reluctant to hire non-students. There are actual laws, I gather, making it legal to hire students for free if it's plausibly part of their education. So some companies will have put in place protocols for hiring interns that may block non-students.
On the other hand, other companies may still be happily taking all comers. Generally, smaller companies may be more willing to take on someone with no experience to do stuff for free, because they have less money. Also, in smaller companies, you will get to do more different stuff.
Bottom line: call people and ask if they could use a hand.
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Reputable places are being cautious. Smaller, less established production companies will still not turn down free labor, even if it is completely illegal.
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