My daughter is 13 and got started where I believe every serious-minded youth magician should IF they have the opportunity -- the SAM or IBM. She has belonged to the SYM for 2 full years and is just beginning her 3rd year. She also attends the SAM meetings. This is not something she "plays" at, but works very hard at. She has set goals for herself. One of her goals is to support her way through college by magic. College has been a focus of hers since she was in 3rd grade, I know I am a proud mom, but she amazes me!
Everything she does, she puts her heart into. Magic included. She volunteers locally for our recreation district as a camp counselor. She works every summer, school breaks, and when able in an afterschool program mentoring younger children. For the recreation district she began giving "free" performances for the summer camps to gain experience, plus they are like family to her and there was no way she could ever bring herself to charge them. But, one good turn always deserves another. When the district was planning a Grand Re-Opening for a local favorite park, she was their first thought for a performer. Now, despite everything and her closeness with them, they would not have hired her for a "city" event if they were not impressed with her presentation at the summer camps.
But, you asked how she got started? As stated, she went to her local SYM meetings faithfully. Her very first meeting she got up and made herself perform. She also started attending the SAM meetings with us. She became friends not only with her own SYM mentor, but other professional magicians from our SAM assembly. People can see earnest interest and many of our assembly members took her under their wing offering her advice, lending her out-of-print books, supporting her by encouraging her and letting her know they believe in her.
Her first job came when a neighboring City called her SYM mentor looking for a youth performer for a city event. He recommended our daughter for the job. You will never know the excitement she felt when she found out her mentor recommended her for the job. She worked so hard preparing for that show because she did not want to let him down and wanted him to know that his faith in her was well placed. Several of our magician friends came out and watched her that day. It meant the world to her.
After that she began giving the "free" performances for our own recreation district to continue gaining experience.
Since then she has been asked back by our neighboring City to do different projects they were affiliated with-- fundraisers, public events, etc. She also performed with the Society of American Magicians at their annual show and will be performing with them again this year.
She was asked time and again to do birthday parties but she always very pleasantly declined. At that point she only had a stage show routine and would not compromise the reputation she was building. She has just now started opening up her booking calendar for bithday parties. It is a 100% original patter routine that we developed together.
If for any reason she cannot practice because her school load is too great, she closes her calendar and explains that her academic commitments are too great to accept bookings at that time. She practices daily, but if she has a booking, she increases her routine practice to 2 hours nightly. She has never had anyone complain or not understand her polite refusal. In fact, they have stated the opposite that they respect her dedication to wanting to put on a quality show.
All of her jobs are either by referral or recommendation.
Outside of performing, she attends every meeting possible. We go to as many shows as our budget allows to see professional magicians perform. She also LOVES attending lectures! More than just watching magicians perform she loves meeting them, chatting with them, and gleeming any advice they will offer. She has had the pleasure of meeting Gregory Wilson who was so awesome with her (and should you ever read this Mr. Wilson -- this is "dimples" we're talking about here), Dana Daniels (who first sparked her interest in magic), Daryl, Bob Sheets, Gerry Griffin of course, Jeff Ezell, Mark Mason, John Carney, Jay Alexander, and I cannot even begin to name all of the wonderful local magicians that inspire her on a regular basis!
Her next endeavor is to begin learning a close-up routine. She has always concentrated on her stage magic and then later her birthday routine. Her dad is in the process of making her a dollhouse, which she is hoping to unavail this year as part of her newest stage performance!
On the business side of things, that is another matter entirely. I am trying to teach her that side of things as well. Again, she is a very mature young lady. We have tried to teach her the proper way to conduct herself when meeting clients, how to do the pre-show correspondence, the after-show correspondence, etc. She has a great website. I would share the domain, but since she is a minor I keep it limited to prospective clients. The downside of performing is that it can sometimes lead to some "unwanted" attention in a negative way for a cute 13 year old girl -- so my best advice on that subject is to be wary of the information you put out there!
If anyone has any specific questions I can answer, I would be happy to help. Again, I believe in supporting today's youth-- they are tomorrow's future -- so let's help them grow in a positive way!