What is an appropriate age to decide what you want to do with your life? You are now expected to have some sort of idea by the time you finish high school. While at this age I do believe you have at least a general idea of what you want to focus on, 16 is still young to make that sort of decision. I changed my mind last minute; literally, as I was applying. Luckily, my last minute change was the right decision. I went to school for something that I loved doing. My classes didn’t really feel like work (well most of them, no one is ever going to love everything). Movies and TV were always things I just enjoyed, studying ratings, box office, reviews, etc. They were hobbies I never knew I could make a career out of. Going through school, I was never fully sure what I wanted to focus on as my career. I enjoyed publicity, marketing, advertising as well as production and writing. I ended up focusing on the business side of the industry with my internship and ended up at a major studio as the publicity intern. Now, almost three years later, I am still there. I have had my responsibilities change and grow, giving me exposure to many different sides of the business. All of this is great, except for the fact that I still don’t really know what I want to do with my life.

Two things I do know: I am in the right industry and I want to end up in California. I know that the entertainment industry is what I am passionate about; it’s what I know best and what I believe I am good at. Now what in the industry am I good at? That is a very good question. I love developing stories, ideas for series, but do I believe I have what it takes to be a writer? Do I have the skills and eye needed for being a director or cinematographer?  These are things that I have been trying to figure out while keeping my current job. Since I am only on contract, I feel as though I haven’t become stuck in my current role. However applying for full time positions without knowing exactly what I want to do is what concerns me. Will I become comfortable and stay? Is it a waste of time? Can I figure out what I really want to do with a permanent job? Am I heading in the wrong direction? These are questions I ask myself every day. Questions that I don’t know the answer to. So what to do now?

I guess that is what your 20’s is for; figuring out what the heck you want to do with your life, making mistakes and trying new things. It would be nice if we still had guidance from teachers, a curriculum to follow, someone to tell you what’s wrong and right. But where would the fun be in that, right?

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Comment by Martin James on June 26, 2013 at 12:12am
Hi Zack. It actually sounds like you're on the right track; good starting point for a guy who wants to work in the movie business. The funny thing is that i'm probably twice your age (okay over twice) and I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. On the other hand, I know people younger than me that have "settled" and are satisfied to ride out the rest of their work life in their current job.

Not that there is anything wrong with that; knowing what makes you happy is the key and for some, the happiness is building and flying model airplanes, studying and playing music or helping out at a local seniors home or soup kitchen. For me, I still largely identify through my work so you and I are not that different while we are what some might call an entire career apart in age.

Anyway, I think you're in the perfect spot; you just need to build the stepping stones and leverage your experience towards your next step. Take some time to decide on a mid-term goal and develop real steps that can get you there but be open to "emergent" opportunities that might present themselves along the way and see how they can fit into your plan.

Regardless, good luck with your goal-seeking and congratulations on the very positive progress you have made thus far.
Comment by Lorne Alan Riley on June 30, 2013 at 5:27am

Hey Zack, most people start off on the journey without knowing the final destination so you aren't at all alone there! Doing what you love and seizing opportunities as they arise are fundamental strategies to get to that final destination...and although the destination may change along the way, you will get closer to identifying it and reaching it as time goes by and your experience and knowledge grows. Not perhaps the most specific advice, but I hope it helps. I have every confidence you will succeed at whatever you decide to pursue!

Comment by Brad Slade on July 2, 2013 at 12:21pm

Hi Zak,

Your "Questions?" article rings true. It's difficult to know what one's forte is, especially when you're young. You can try different things but if you take the 'wrong' path, there may be no going back.

Someone told me once "do what you love doing and figure out how to make a living at it". Unfortunately for me, no one gave me this advice. "Choose a career with good paying jobs - here's a list" is about all I got. Ha! Don't get me started on "Guidance Counselors"!

I believe if you're passionate about what you do, you'll succeed no matter what. Having a mentor is crucial.

Thanks for bringing this to light.

Comment by Bonnie Byrne on July 4, 2013 at 6:30pm

Hi Zack, You don't know me but your dad is my cousin and I know your parents very well...you were quite young when you moved from the Sault many years ago. I read your story and was quite inspired. My son Jeff is stumped at this time as well, he turned 26 yesterday, and is still trying to figure out what he wants to do...He spent the last 6 months living in London, England with his girlfriend, she was teaching and he worked in a Canadian bar, and I think the experience opened up his eyes, and is now thinking of returning to school...He has always loved movies, especially horror ones, wanted to enter in the film industyr, but did not have the marks for uiniversity in Toronto...

Ryan on the other hand is 29, and is in the entertainment business, where he is doing photography, videography, weddings, etc. and is producing a horror film in the fall to be released in oct of 2014....on devil's night ( he was born in 1983 on oct. 30th). He has wanted to be a part of the film industry for years, and was eager to try California, but is working on ideas here. He has modelled in Hong Kong, written a book, made a CD, and works with some talented people now in his business...He has many goals, and I believe that some day he will achieve them....He has always stated that you have to like what you are doing in your job....Hope to see you some day and have a chat....Take care and say hi to your parents....If you would like to reach Ryan his cell is 705-257-7147.

Bonnie Byrne


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