Do you know who you are, what you want to do and where you are going? Do you have a 5-year plan and you’re hitting those end of year targets with a swiftness reserved for only the most psychotic? Hopefully, you’re laughing as you’re reading and you’re shaking your collective heads with a resounding “NOOOOOO.”
And why should you? You have only great things waiting for you, so keep moving. Keep being inspired and stay passionate about the things you excel at. The things scare you are getting smaller and smaller because you’re learning more and more. The more you know, eh? If you’re anything like me, you move with the times, you learn from the people around you and you carve a space out for yourself in your Pandustry. Not sure what I mean?
I was brought up at the time when it was fairly normal to find a job after school, or go to university and study to be a doctor or lawyer; a chemist, or engineer and stay in that job for the next 40 years. I found this prospect to be terminally damaging to my future freedom; so I decided to stick two fingers up at the local establishment, who had nurtured and harnessed me; channelling my tortured teenaged self through Morrissey and reading my Dad’s Quantum Physics books because I was interested. I was into Basquiat, Bushnell, Goldman and Gabriel. I rolled my tenacity for learning into a respectable amount of GCSEs, a suspension from secondary school for satirical cartoons and a long talk from my parents about the future. Pensions, mortgages and the C-word. Career.
I found a diary from that time recently. Written in big red felt tip letters on one of the pages, dated July 1987 it said simply “I’m too young to think about tomorrow.”
I knew I wanted to create, I wanted to make, I wanted to explain and present, but I didn’t have the tools. Hell, back then, nobody like me did, did they? I appeased my parents and went to college. But when my folks divorced, I needed to make bank so that I could pay my way in our broken household, and that’s when my fortunes changed. I made my first move out of education, and into the work of my Pandustry. I, like many people of my age, at that time, worked for the weekend, so I took jobs which paid money but a career? Nope, there was nothing for a young woman with ideas about making things — but what was there was gold. I found people who believed in me, who helped me to become skilled and able in communicating. I found mentors and supporters whose interest spanned across their work life experience and for me, that was 50% of what I needed to grow.
But this isn’t what this article is about. This article is about how workers have lost their identity and I am trying to find out why, even if I’m glad that they have. If you read the long foray above, you’ll understand why I lost my identity if I ever had one to lose. But it’s due to changing my outlook, work processes and upscaling my abilities. When I can’t move forward or upward it doesn’t reflect the direction that I aspire to travel in.
Over many years, I have been able to speak to people, who are like-minded yet also slightly apprehensive about moving through industries with a seamless logistical approach and the desire to stretch their ambitions beyond any normal individual. Fast forward to the 2000s and I’m back from working Japan. I had a conversation with a recruiter about what I do. I described my adaptability in certain areas of industry as a multi-portfolio. Here’s an idea of some of the jobs I’d done since school:
- Hostess of a celebrated LGBT+ night (I’m very proud)
- Military service
- Marketing assistant
- Features writer
- A&R Assistant
- Short order cook
- Game designer
- Script editor
- Voice over artiste
They laughed and said “yeah, but what do you really do? What’s on your CV?” All of them.
Some of these jobs were all at the same time but in different industries. Is that ok? Most recruiters said “No.” I worked in a cafe, the military, a nightclub, a restaurant, on a TV show and so on. I was a shelf-stacker in Boots and a published writer. I was an acting COO and a teacher. Each industry gave me a different outlook on people, workflow and strategies. I learned how to assess situations and measure my skills but I couldn’t convince anyone that it was a good thing.
Are we in such a walled garden of individual industries which reflect our beliefs, ethics and skills that we can’t explore our potential in parallel avenues? We are so obsessed with being this or that, titling ourselves that it, though emergent, is still almost unheard of for a law practitioner by day to work as an art gallery owner by night. However, this need for fluidity, I think, is revolutionising how we see ourselves, and moving through these social times, we have to appear to be on a level with our followers and readers. We don’t want career FOMO, nor do we want to be cast out of our industrial networks. But what is actually wrong with saying that you are neither this nor that and instead saying that you are many things? I have found that having five different resumes to reflect five different industries that I’ve worked in, has become somewhat cumbersome to manage! On a side note, my other half has a one page CV covering 30 years in IT.
More recently I’ve met a great mentor who explained to me the importance of not having a title. Whilst I think that it is easy to say that you don’t have or don’t want a title when you are a CEO or a VP, it is also important when you are establishing yourself as an individual to make sure that your title is as true to your abilities as possible. Given that I’m still starting out in my career after a considerable amount of time working, I like to think that Creative Badass covers most, if not all, grounds.
So how do you look for a job when you are Pandustrial? Well, it’s difficult, but there is hope because there are still so many others who follow the way of the multi-portfolio. We can be lawyers by day and we can be art gallery owners by night. We can also work to establish our creative credentials first and follow our creative credentials up with more of the necessary academic backbone as necessary. I have studied soft skills and found myself working in a hard skilled working environment. Overall, it is necessary to ensure that above all you have enthusiasm and passion for the subject that you are working on at any given time, and I’ve never been short of enthusiasm and passion. Trying to discover your Pandustrial identity whilst acknowledging your abilities might seem like something of a conundrum, but it’s important to find companies and industries who think and feel like you.
Hey Recruiters and HR! It’s pretty simple: don’t box us in. You have no idea what we’re capable of. Think of us as more Moebius and less static, of having mathematical poetry or unorientable rhythm rather than one-sided. We’re moving over and above what you asked for and what we thought we could achieve simply by going there. Not sure we’re the right fit? Well, how many cleaner-game designer-a&r assistant-nightclub hostess-marketing-features writer-barmaids-military service personnel have you hired?
We live in popularist times. We’re described as unicorns, strategic thinkers, as butterflies and as square pegs: it speaks to the current state of a working landscape which is often excited and occasionally reinvigorated by buzzwords, profiles and people who can do; but we deliver. We deliver because we can see the big picture and we get it. As an enthusiastic Pandustrialist it’s vital that you set the terms for how you wish this epoch of your working life to evolve; and accordingly how you measure the impact that you have on the workplace in your changing field of expertise. Hell, some of you are operating on the top level as we speak, do you recognise yourself in your workforce? You should, because we’re in there managing your day-to-day differently.
Do you know who you are, what you want to do and where you are going? Do you have a 5-year plan and you’re hitting those end of year targets with a swiftness reserved for only the most psychotic? “NOOOOOO.” I hear you cry, “I’m a Pandustrialist now.”
And so am I. I’m too young to think about tomorrow.