I am beginning a new job this week. This represents a milestone in my work life and personal life. In the first instance, I’m going to be paid to do something I’ve already been doing for free for the past several years, which is work with video and other digital media. In the second case I don’t have to look for this job any more which means I can have my life back, also something I’ve wanted for the past several years.
For anyone who just happened to stumble on this post and doesn’t know much about me or this blog, let me give you some background.
My first computer was a Mac Plus that I got, used, in 1986. I started using it right away for producing graphic designs for my silk screen business. For the next 20 years I was involved in both training and technical support of computers and the software used for creative and publishing businesses. That would be advertising agencies, corporate design departments, printing companies and independent artists. In 2004 I completed a certificate program in video editing and animation and in 2008 I got another certificate in digital filmmaking which was a more comprehensive study and application of every facet of the production pipeline.
Also in 2008 I was laid off due to the financial crisis that still haunts us. Up to that point I had been producing video and audio content for my employer on an ad hoc basis with the goal of turning it into a full time job. I was really, really confident that video within the corporate world was about to explode and I thought I was in a great position to take advantage of that.
Ironically, that advantage put me way out on a limb of the corporate tree. A quite visibly exposed branch I would say. So I was an easy target for cost cutting measures that resulted in my separation from the company.
But I bounced back with enthusiasm. At the time, it wasn’t apparent that we were knee deep into what future generations may call the Great Recession and I was ignorantly optimistic. Paying jobs in video were drying up, but I was adamant about developing my video production skills in the real world so I went with what was available. I found that internships were great sources for developing experience and networks. I worked at a documentary filmmaking company for three months, produced video interviews at a college, a university and worked on marketing projects for non-profit organizations. These were great opportunities to apply the skills I’ve been learning in order to gain real world jobs. And even the fact that these were short term positions was a good thing, because it allowed me to learn a large number of different job types, often several in a given job, without worrying about how it would look on my resume.
Learning is hard under these circumstances, but it’s paid off big time. I would have to say that the biggest benefit from the two years I was unemployed was increased confidence in my own skills and knowledge. BTW although I was working my butt off I still considered myself unemployed because most of these jobs didn’t pay at all.
Anyway, this confidence, gained from a wide range of real world experiences, has enabled me to meet any contingency head on, without hesitation. And I think that’s the most valuable thing you can bring into an interview, confidence in your ability to boldly meet new circumstances and overcome any obstacle that they present.
Oh, and one other thing. There’s nothing like looking for a job to prepare you for finding a job. Over the past three years and the endless resumes and cover letters I have written for countless jobs, almost all of them unresponded to, I have been forced again and again to encapsulate not only a lifetime of work experience in a way that it matches the prospective employer needs, but it’s also required that I constantly evaluate my own goals and aspirations for work.
It’s a search for self really. And surprisingly it’s a moving target.
If you’ve read any of the posts in this blog you know that I’m constantly revising my goals, my reasons for working and who I think I am.
And what I’ve come up with so far is that I like to teach, I like to create things that communicate and I like working with technology that empowers people. It may not sound like much, but it cost me a lot to get to this far.
Gradually as I worked through job boards and tried out different jobs through temp agencies and internships, I realized that academic institutions were the ideal place to achieve all my goals. Schools of every level and purpose are focused on retaining their relevance in an increasingly changing culture. Technology has always been an engine driving that change and now media tools such as the Blogs, video tutorials, audio podcasts etc. have become another. For this reason I began focusing my sights on jobs in colleges and universities.
So at last we arrive at today.
My new job title is Instructional Developer in the Journalism department of a large university. There are a lot of things I’m involved in here. I’m responsible for presenting workshops on how to use digital media software and hardware, from cameras and audio recorders to page layout programs, video editors and blogging tools. I support the faculty, facilitate their use of technology in the classroom and consult with them on the services I can provide to the students. I manage the operation of a couple classrooms, distribute and maintain media production tools such as still and video cameras and provide video tutorials for the department’s blog.
I’m really jazzed about this job because it’s an exciting time in journalism as the field integrates new media and social media into it’s toolkit..
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
Imagine being 18, 19 and having all this technology available to you. There are little or no barriers to keep you from using it. Most of the software is relatively easy to use and can be had for free if you’re willing to go open source. And the hardware is ridiculously inexpensive compared to just 10 years ago. Of course, all these creative resources have been available to kids of all ages during the past decade and on the web you can see the creative efforts of students in high school, middle school, grade school and perhaps even infants, whose parents have strapped cameras to their heads and let’m run loose. So what makes kids in college different from the rest?
Well, the problem with having all these technologies is that, left on your own there’s no point or direction except to impress your peers. I don’t have to tell you how quickly that gets old. College is a place that offers purpose and direction that can harness a student’s enthusiasm. That focus can channel their efforts into stories that will resonate beyond a few friends and into the broader culture.
And the exciting thing about Journalism right now is that no one knows what the mix of story and media is. Do newspaper journalists need to become photographers who tie their images together with recorded interviews and sound effects? Are they shooting videos and posting them on their own web TV channel? How can print journalism leverage these new tools and still retain the value of their own medium? No one can tell for sure.
What’s also fascinating is that the professionals who already possess journalistic skills in storytelling, investigative reporting etc., are in the same place as today’s students in regard to knowing how to use new media. Everyone is trying to figure out how to use these tools to capture the interest of an audience that is already way ahead of them in terms of media preferences.
Though I feel an affinity toward Journalism because of my experience with documentary filmmaking I’m not a journalist and it’s not my responsibility to teach the students how to be journalists. I’m providing direction for the use of these technologies toward the application of their developing journalistic skills. In the process, I’m learning as well as teaching. And that’s just the way I like it.
I’m Paul, the Video StudentGuy and that’s it for this show. I can’t begin to imagine how this new job is going to effect the ongoing production of this podcast, but I’m certain that it will continue. If you have any thougths or questions feel free to leave a comment on the blog or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll talk to you later,