I remember a few years ago I was doing an internship on a movie set. I got chatting to the DOP of the movie who was turning 60 that year. This guy is a legend in the industry, he has shot some of the biggest commercials and films in the country. He looked to me and said do you know how much I envy you? I couldn't understand, it should be the other way right? I couldn't wait to be an expert in my field, that's all I dreamt about.
Taking a different path
As we chatted he let me know that since it was his 60th birthday, he was determined to direct his first short film. It had always been his dream to direct films, that was the reason he got in the industry in the first place. But along the way he had got so good at being a director of photography that he never had time for anything else.
Along the way he had let some of his skills get rusty. Now this man is reaching the end of his career and realising how much off route he had gone. Sounds sad doesn't it? The truth is, it happens to all of us.
Being a specialist is good but it can also lead to de-skilling. Some of the skills you learnt at college eventually disappear as you stop using them. The current work place favours those who multitask and have a wide range skills.
We recently laughed at a job advert that said 'Cameraman needed: he has to have his own equipment, editing software, have an understanding of Adobe Illustrator, be good with contracts and writing scripts'. Sounds like a job for five people to me, but companies are cutting corners, the more diversified your skills are the more attractive you are to them. There are a number of ways that you can continue to practice your other skills while specialise at work.
How to go about it
There are a lot of charities that need marketing and advertising, why not practice your copyrighting, designing, directing skills on them. Do a PSA for your favourite charity, they will never say no. On weekends shoot that PSA and add it to your CV. You can also enter that PSA for awards.
Join extra curricular groups with like-minded people. It is easy to find these communities on the internet. The amount of knowledge you can get by going to these groups is big. You will also get to hear about career opportunities or competitions you can enter.
I am always surprised at the amount of software that enter the market every year and before you know it every prospective employer is asking how good you are on using this wonder software. In these industry community forums you get all this knowledge.
Working your way up
Let's say you started as a receptionist in your dream company hoping you would eventually take a leap to the creative side but it hasn't happened. Do not distress, do not let your hard earned skills rust. Take a refresher course and make sure your employers know about it.
Show them the cool stuff you have been doing at your class or during your spare time. Keep practising the other skills that you have, it can only improve your career.
Volunteer your services to the departments you are interested in, show them what you are capable of so that when the opportunity arises in the company they won't look far.
Do not hesitate to show off your knowledge in company meetings or any chance you get.
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