When alumna Erica Wernick first made the decision to move to Los Angeles, she assumed the transition would be an easy one.
“I thought this will be great, I’ll just hop on a plane and move out to L.A.,” Wernick said. “But when I got there, I was scared s—less.”
While in high school, Wernick took classes at UCLA for six weeks and said she was instantly drawn to the city.
“I loved the weather, and I was just sort of enamored by the whole city,” she said. “I think I thought it was a lot more glamorous than it actually is.”
After graduating from Tyler School of Art in 2008 with a degree in graphic design, she decided she wanted to get into the production side of the entertainment industry.
From there, moving to L.A. seemed like a good fit, but she said it was not as easy as she thought it would be.
“[Entertainment] is very different than any other industry,” Wernick said. “It’s not like there is just a job listing page and you can apply. On the production side it’s all about who you know and it’s just really difficult to find work.”
It was a tough road to find steady work and Wernick said she had moments where she was not sure what to do next or where to turn.
“I had times where I was like, ‘Oh my god, what am I going to do?’” she said. “My second year out was really hard, but even in the hardest of times I told my parents I [wasn’t] going home. I really wanted to be there.”
Despite her initial difficulty finding jobs, Wernick eventually landed work at 17 separate television shows in the five years she has spent living in L.A..
Over the course of those five years, she said the abundance of questions she would receive from friends and strangers were all the same. Everyone interested in moving to L.A. was curious to see what she thought about the city.
“Last year I was working on a show in Philly for six months, and I did a talk at Tyler during that time,” she said. “Afterward I got so many questions from students thinking about moving to L.A. that I thought, ‘Maybe I should do an e-book about this.’ I thought it could also be a fun design project for myself.”
Combining her knowledge of surviving in the intensely competitive job market in L.A., along with her graphic design background, Wernick embarked on creating her newly released e-book, “L.A. Bound: The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Los Angeles.”
The book works as a how-to guide for the do’s and don’ts of moving to L.A. and provides step-by-step advice meant to help people transition and find their way in the city. Her advice ranges from the average price of apartments in each of the 22 L.A. neighborhoods to how to meet people and network effectively.
“One of the first things I start out talking about is to visit the city in which you want to live before you move there,” Wernick said. “Especially coming from Philly to L.A., that’s really far, and if your family is far you don’t have that support system.”
Although she has a wealth of insight to give from experiencing the city firsthand, Wernick said it was essential that her book not only represent her experiences, but those of her friends who also made the move.
“I didn’t really think that I would have to do this, but I ended up having to do a lot of research,” she said. “It was important for me to feel like this information was coming from a trusted friend, but at the same time I wanted to back up the information.”
Through creating the guide, she said she hopes she can ease some of the concerns people have about making the decision to uproot their life and move to L.A..
“I feel like I laid out all the specifics, so it won’t be as scary, and [people] will know all these things before they get to L.A.,” Wernick said. “It’s to make the move much less scary, and the book really isn’t just about L.A., it’s about what to do.”
Even though taking the risk of moving to a new place where there is no guarantee of making friends and finding work seems intimidating, Wernick said it was completely worth it for her. All it takes, she added, is dedication.
“There is so much competition, and I try to stress that hard work is what is going to lead you out from the people that are going to go home,” she said. “You have to be a hustler. I really think that’s what sets you apart the people who don’t make it.”
Alexa Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.