Thursday 21 January 2016

Inventing a career for yourself

Not everyone fits into an easy career niche. Fortunately, and often thanks to technology, it’s become easier to decide on something you want to do, and then identify or actually create a way of doing it as a career.

Let me give you my favourite example. A friend of mine was originally a copywriter in an ad agency. He moved into freelance copywriting and video scripting, but felt that he wasn’t really expressing himself as much as he really wanted to. His real passion was drawing.

A few years ago, he started using a handheld Palm device to draw caricatures of people, which he would print out and give to them. For free. From here he moved on to “painting” all kinds of things on his device, printing them and selling them at markets.

Then he got his breakthrough idea. Why not use digital technology, like a tablet, to illustrate people’s conference presentations while they are presenting them. These live illustrations would help to visualise the concepts and ideas for the audience. This idea was based on research that people retain information better if they can also see a visual representation of it. At the time, my friend was the only person in South Africa doing this. The career he has created for himself is now known as “visual facilitation”. He has clients that range from Sun International to Coca Cola.


The moral of the story – follow your passion

The world is an extremely big place, with a lot of things happening in it. There’s a very good chance that you will be able to find a career that completely satisfies your passion or your ambitions in life. Especially with the new opportunities that technology is opening up. It just takes a little ingenuity, a lot of effort and the willingness to not give up.

The reward is more than worth it. You can reasonably expect to spend more time working at your career than anything else you do in your life. So it makes so much sense that you do what you love. For some this will be an easy decision – they will have wanted to be lawyers or architects or doctors their whole lives. They’re lucky enough to have formal pathways towards these careers. But for those who choose more niche careers (for example, computer animation), these pathways have only recently come to exist, or don’t exist yet.

If you’re one of these people, once again, technology can help you to create your career.

The importance of self-learning

We live in an era where more information and knowledge is available to more people more easily than ever before in history. The Internet is truly a treasure trove in this respect.

With enough research it’s often possible to find all manner of resources that you can use to embark on the career you’re considering. Very importantly, there are online courses that can give you an informal, but structured education in the area you’ve chosen. You can sign up with distance learning organisations. Or you can join forums that contain people already working in the area. This can be an invaluable resource – it gives you access to first-hand experience you probably won’t be able to get in any other way.


Don’t give up

One last thing is worth mentioning. Life won’t always be easy and your career path might not be smooth. The important thing is to persevere. You’ll stumble a few times. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel. Don’t. You never know just how close you might be to achieving your career dream.

Let’s start a conversation. Let me know what you think here or connect with me on Twitter (@EduloanSA)

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