Career Track - "Make it to work. A plan for your future career"

Unfortunately, being so busy had led to miss many of the career track sessions that had been running throughout the year. I felt that many of these seemed like they would be really useful to attend but COP and Extended Practice were taking up all of my time.  After being emailed about one of the easter programmes I took it upon myself to sign up for it as I knew I would only regret it if I missed every session available to us. 

Although PPP had been helping us to develop a plan for our career, I still didn't feel as though I really knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I felt a focused session on this would really be good for me. As well as this, I needed interaction with some fresh faces. I had been with the same people everyday for the past 2 and half years and couldn't remember the last time I met someone new from college. As nice as most of them are, I felt i needed to take myself out of the comfort zone and attend something on my own with a group of people I had never met before. So this was not only to plan my future career but to build my confidence as well. 

Part 1. 

Initial thoughts when I got there: FUCK SAKE! 

During the session I had expected interaction but people I did not know, which is daunting enough for me, but I had not expected to be doing the thing I dread most - standing up on my own in front of a big group of people and talking about myself. 

The session began by us being asked to pick a postcard from a table filled with postcards - a postcard with an image on it that most represented our future career, and then explain to the rest of the group the reason for our choice. 

This was not the image I actually picked but its very similar and the underlying meaning was still the same: 

I picked a picture of a happy old person partying.


I picked this picture because at the end of my career I want to be able to look back and say YES I enjoyed myself and YES I had fun. I also picked it because it was funny and I think humour plays a big part of my practice and is important in human communication. 

I think this was just a way to make the start of the session a bit fun and lighthearted and nothing to think too deeply into, but I do feel it was an interesting task and an interesting way to think about things. If you can identify your future from a pile of random images then that means you must have some kind of idea about what you want to do. 

Part 2. 

The second part of the session involved us drawing a picture of our future career. Initially I thought this was going to be pretty stupid and pointless, but whilst responding to the task I kind of understood that the purpose of it was to make us think. What do we want to be doing, where do we want to be doing it, who do we want to be doing it with etc. 

We then presented our drawings to the rest of the group, explained them and basically critiqued one another. (Not on the drawings obviously but what they represented.)

Unfortunately I did not take a photo of my drawing as it was too disastrous, but it consisted of a big mac computer and sketchbook, in a big open plan city studio full of windows, a plane flying overhead representing traveling, speech bubbles and hands shaking representing collaboration, a smiley face representing happiness, and bean bags representing comfort. 

I think the main thing I got from the feedback from this was related to the travel aspect of my drawing - and that was JUST DO IT! I love the idea of working in a big city in another country, but I have always felt like this was just a fantasy idea. Language barriers are the main thing that make me feel like this is not possible, as well as confidence - why would a studio in the UK want me never mind a studio in Barcelona or somewhere like that. But how do I ever know until I try. Learn a bit of Spanish and just go do it. Contact studios abroad that interest me, go on holidays, go on visits. The only way to make fantasy into reality is by going and doing it. 

Another thing I found interesting from the session was the fact that it seemed like not many people in the group really seemed like they knew where they could take their career, with some of them even saying they were going to try get an office job and just keep their creative practice as something to do in their spare time. I find it really strange that you would undergo a creative degree to then just not even bother pursuing a career in it, but then again I suppose what sort of business employs fine artists?

Part 3. 

Part 3 of the session was really helpful and involved a crazy card game. 

I call it a game but it wasn't a game, it was a massive ball ache  Just kidding I quite enjoyed it. The aim of the card task was to basically help us to identify the things we are good at and the things that motivate us most. 

Firstly, from a huge pile of different skills, we had to divide them into piles of ranging from 'Very competent' to 'Undeveloped'. The main thing I struggled with during this was that we had to have at least 15 cards in the 'Very competent', and I didn't have more than 3 to begin with. I guess this just goes to show how modest I am. 

From the results of these we had to fill in the sheet above. Just incase you can't read it - 

Undeveloped Skills

2 Skills I have never developed but have always wanted to try:

1. Inspiring people
2. Using a foreign language at work 

Future Learning

2 Skills I would like to develop within 12 months of starting next job:

1. Inventing new solutions to problems
2 Gaining commitment from work colleagues

Career breakthrough skills

2 Skills I need to sharpen up and refresh/talk about in interview:

1. Project Management
2. Networking

From here we then had to analyse our 'Very Competent' cards, and rank them from 'Skills I enjoy using' and 'Skills I don't enjoy using'. We then had to pick the 10 that were closest the side of 'Skills I enjoy'. 

As seen below these were my final 10:

1. Having insight/using intuition 
2. Creating, innovating, seeing alternatives
3. Readily absorbing ideas/concepts
4. Developing & building on the ideas of others
5. Using colour or design creatively
6. Generating new ideas/challenging assumptions
7. Embracing a challenge
8. Communicating a vision 
9. Examining, observing, monitoring 
10. Constructing/building/shaping

All the cards were also coded with a letter - 


It turns out 6 of my cards were skills in CONCEPTS/IDEAS, 2 were in ENTERPRISE, 1 was in INFORMATION, and 1 was in THINGS. I suppose this goes to show I have made the right career choice? 

We also had to give 2 examples of where we had use these skills, and I found this part really difficult. Its all well and good saying you have these skills but you also have to prove it. I think the main reason I struggled to give these examples was because pretty much every answer related to uni work and I didn't want to write the same thing for every skill. I realised that there were more specific examples, I just need to thing about the work I had been doing and identify if and why i used that skill. 

I think this was a really great task, especially in terms of preparing for a job interview. Yeah you can write all this shit on your CV and say these are my skills, but when you are asked to prove you have these skills, you need to have a response. This is definitely something I am going to continue to dwell on as interview situations are things that I have never really thought about before and need to be prepared for! 

Part 4. 

The fourth part of the session was like stepping right into a nightmare. We had to pretend we were in an interview situation (an interview in which you stand up on your own in front of a big audience) and basically sell ourselves and our practice. 

We were given 20 minutes to write ourselves a 'speech'. The fact that I had all these skills written down in front of me from the card game actually made it a hell of a lot easier than normal to come up with something to say.

Although we had been writing manifestos for ppp, I decided to keep that in mind but start afresh with my new found skill set list. This is what I wrote: 

"Hello I am Will Jeffrey. I am a versatile, multidiscipline creative specialising in graphic design and illustration. I am inspired by honest creativity and think fun should always have some part to play, whether during the process or as the final solution. I am a motivated, enthusiastic designer with strong technical abilities, and skills in conceptual thinking and idea generation. I also have thorough observational skills which give me a good insight to drive design decisions. I am open minded, adaptable and always ready for a challenge."

I was absolutely shitting myself about presenting this to a group of people I didn't know, but for some reason I was less nervous than I ever have been presenting in front of my peers and friends from the graphic design posse. I think this is because presenting is all about bigging yourself up, and its much easier to big yourself up and be someone else in front of people that have never met you before than it is to do so in front of people that know you. 
Another thing that took away my nerves was when the lady said 'I bet none of you have presented like this before' and everyone was like 'nope'. I was like are you fucking mad woman I have to do this pretty much every month on my course! As well as this, the first person to present had a mental break down and ran out crying because she was too nervous. I had never felt so confident in my life after that and presented better than I have ever done in my life. It was by no means perfect but I really felt I had achieved something. 

We were then given feedback on our presentations. 1 good thing 1 bad: 

- 'Plenty of skills mentioned, could have been longer' 
- 'Very precise, Smile!' 
- 'Good mention of values, more smile :)'
- 'Short and sweet, great list of skills, maybe make it more personal and engage more'
- 'Good eye contact with everyone, super duper :)' 
- 'Could have spoke slower, used some eye contact, concise'
- 'Straight in there humour, sound more enthusiastic' 
- 'Good opening, could have talked about your style' 
- 'Lovely to see you have though about what is good about you but need to show the enthusiasm, be more ... and relax. Scratching you nose reveals nerves' 


Positives of the session: 

- Doing something out of my comfort zone

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