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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Tag: job

Day 138: What to Expect from Your Job

In my three decades on Earth, I feel really lucky to have had many different jobs in many different fields. I’ve been a grant writer, catering server, adjunct professor, administrative assistant, marketing manager, barista, hotel sales coordinator, yoga instructor, writer, production manager, cleaning lady, lighting designer, babysitter, stage manager, DJ (not so great at the DJing, as it turns out), program coordinator, sales associate and research assistant. Right now, I’m a contract content producer (and I love it).

My history gives me what I’d call a pretty well-rounded perspective on what makes a good job. So here are eight things you should expect from your place of employment:

1. Challenges. Tiny ones, quick ones, long ones and gigantic ones. If you’re not being challenged, your brain is probably dying.

2. Like-minded people. People who understand your satisfaction with a beautifully organized Google doc (for example), and who can empathize with you when things aren’t going quite right. These people keep you grounded.

3. Different-minded people. People who are able to look at a situation from angles you didn’t even know existed and pull metaphorical rabbits out of metaphorical hats. These people keep you on your toes.

4. A way for you to move around and not sit or stand in the same place all day long. Whether it’s a nice outdoor space or a mobile indoor situation in which you can work wherever feels productive, good jobs let you move.

5. Good tea and coffee. And some healthy snacks. Simple pleasures make a big difference.

6. Quiet space where you can focus without distraction. It’s important that you’re able to plow through a problem or a project uninterrupted when you need to.

7. Distractions. Being able to adapt and switch gears based on the needs of the people around you is an important skill that will serve you in all areas of life. You might as well hone it at your job.

8. Laughter. You should be skeptical of anyone who wants to be serious for eight or more hours straight. Human beings are built to laugh.

Happy jobbing.

Day 93: Advice for Artists

Towards the end of my graduate school career, I was well-prepared to create meaningful work, teach at the university level, articulate the vital connections between dance and societal growth, make the world a better place through art, and push the boundaries of collaboration between dance, technology, cultural studies, philosophy, science and a host of other fields.

But I didn’t know how to make a living.

Lois Welk, Director of Dance USA, came to my Producing Dance class during my final semester and gave the class some wonderful advice. I recently dug up my notes from her visit and think all artists (all humans, really) could benefit from her logic.

She drew a quadrant on the board that looked something like this:

Quadrants

She then told us to view every opportunity in terms of those quadrants. In gig + money terms, here’s how the opportunities shake out:

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 6.59.04 PM

What became immediately apparent to my class of uber-smart dance academics is that we should not pursue opportunities that don’t whet our artistic appetites or pay for sandwiches (in graphic terms, we should stay away from the lower left quadrant). This should have been obvious before Lois came to visit, but most of us had been saying yes to everything. Every show, every choreography request, every plea for an extra stage hand—all in the name of serving the dance community and increasing our personal visibility.

Lois addressed our misguided actions by reminding us that we continuously brand ourselves based on the decisions we make. Consistently agreeing to do mundane work for free would let the community know that we do mundane work for free (duh). Eventually, we’d all be flat broke and faced with more mundane, low-paying opportunities than we could handle.

Conversely, she gave us a life-long challenge to only consider opportunities that:

  • stimulate our brains and pay well
  • stimulate our brains but don’t pay well (or at all)
  • don’t stimulate our brains but enable us to buy food, pay bills, and rent apartments and rehearsal space

In terms of job and artistic growth, nothing else is worth pursuing.