The Tea House: Rocking it as a Professional (III)
Today is brought to you by an iced chai.
No matter what kind of profession you pursue, whether it’s in the arts, technology, medicine or as a white water rafting guide, there are certain qualities that will give you a professional boost and make you stand out from your colleagues.
One of these is the ability and willingness to learn new information and skills and continue to develop these on your own, without the requirement of your employer or clients. Basically we’re talking about the ability and drive to research and teach yourself new skills and find necessary information using resources like reliable online articles books, journals, professional magazines, etc. Of course, there are people out there will to teach others skills and work in a mentoring capacity, but if you can do the bulk of the work on your own, you’re ahead of the game.
I have a friend who works for a tech company in San Francisco. One of the questions this friend’s tech company asks when looking for new hires is how and where the job interviewees find information to do their jobs. If the interviewee tells the interviewer that they’d ask their superior, they are automatically not hired. Those who talk about searching for the information on their own before going to their superior or colleagues are interviewed further. I myself have had job interviews where I’ve been asked how I find information I need to do my job. The interviewers are always thrilled when I tell them I research the topic using the available resources and only ask for help once my resources are exhausted.
This skill is even more essential for the freelancer, which, frankly, you are if you’re an artist who expects any compensation for your art. If you’re a writer, can you figure out how to improve your writing skills and understanding of grammar? What about doing research for that new book you’re writing? If you’re a filmmaker, can you research and teach yourself how to keep up with the new technology that will make your films better? If you’re an illustrator, can you learn how to use new software? What about learning how to promote your artistic business? Can you research and learn how to network?
This doesn’t mean that we don’t all need help, guidance and advice. We do. One of the fabulous things about the bizarro community is how we’re willing to help one another grow as artists, no matter what our art is. We’re willing to share skills and information, experience and insight, recommendations and tools. But if you do your research and then go to your mentors or colleagues who are willing to help you kick your career to the next level, you’ll go much further and be easier to work with if you do the background work. If you’ve gone as far as you can on your own before approaching others for help.
It’s the professional thing to do.
Spike Marlowe has held a number of odd jobs, including working as a detective, a Bigfoot researcher, a writer for an internet content farm, a busker and as a performer in a wild west show. These days she’s a writer, blogger and bizarro editor for Eraserhead Press, with a focus on the New Bizarro Author Series. Her first book, Placenta of Love, is available at all the usual locations. You can stalk her online at her website or on Twitter at @spikemarlowe.