If you're passionate about a certain industry but lack the skills commonly associated with its most visible leaders, you can try to pursue a career working on the sidelines. Being behind the scenes may offer more than just the opportunity to score freebies and gain exposure to your dream industry's superstars. The career choice may also help you enjoy what you do for a living as well as pay your bills.In discussions with M, my friend and former supervisor, she said that my lack of full facility with design software doesn't disqualify me from careers in publishing that have tracks upward from where I left. Our bosses, for instance, had little to no modern experience with any of the software, hardware, or production methods we used to create our work. As a veteran of these particular trenches, I have an informed opinion on these areas, and I can make managerial decisions affecting them without stepping on scores of toes or wrecking a budget. I was also given sound advice along M's lines by the always awesome India Amos.
I found echoes of the career-consulting program in the article as well. "Think broadly about the types of employers to target," advises Needleman. Early in the program, job seekers are encouraged to do just that, including employers in industries outside the candidates' resume experience. I recall an example given in one of the program texts, in which a job seeker wants to break into the entertainment business, but — lacking the experience needed to do it as talent — does so by joining a business that serves the industry, thereby gaining contact with potential mentors and employers while remaining close to her passion. On this topic, Needleman also cites joining organizations in one's field to build a network, a linchpin of the counseling service's method.
I am mulling my next steps in the job hunt as well as in skill acquisition. The School of Visual Arts runs summer programs for continuing education (including one-weekend concentrated courses) in various software packages, including Illustrator and Photoshop. I took a combo course in both back in 2001, but based on the number of ads that cite both as primary skills, I feel I'd need a full-frontal immersion in just one of them to get in tune with the basics needed by most of these employers.
This article, and the discussions I've had with M, have me wondering whether this is a strictly necessary prerequisite. If I do some digging and make active contacts with hiring managers, maybe I can get into the head of one who might need me as I am . . . or as I soon will be. I have skills along the editing and writing axes as well, which makes me a potentially useful combination plate. (These are the images I use when I blog around dinnertime.)
If nothing else, I will be careful to avoid making the same mistake one person alluded to in the article made at McFarlane Toys. Apparently this dork showed up with a sheaf of comics for the boss to sign. As their HR director put it, "He didn't last very long."