“I’m a genius Dustin, it’s just that nobody knows it but me,”
I whispered down the office phone so my colleagues wouldn’t catch wind, taking advantage of my bosses momentary absence to speak with the recruiter whom I had pegged the last of my dwindling hope on to save my creative soul from dying to the indignation of the impotent invoices limping from the ‘To-Do’ tray before me. Praying it would be him who would pull me out of the mundane administrational position I had found myself stuck in and catapult me into a career where my artistic virtues could flourish.
When I was much younger I had visualised my adult-professional life sprouting with wings, easily transcending the rankings, soaring the laddering steps, crushing the necks of the snakes of the corporate world, climbing into positions of high-authority and robust paychecks. In my imagination it had seemed so easy, and in reality there was no reason for ‘why not?’: I was smart, ambitious, quick-learning, hard-working and charismatic. The career’s officer assigned to me in my twelfth grade had agreed. I displayed shining potential, and as I sat with her in the pompous British Racing Green leather teak chairs afforded by the privileged All-Girls’ school in which I had been groomed, she propagated the best way forward to ‘get ahead’ in life. The scheme was largely propelled by the biased-leaning of my privatized Roman-Catholic education that expunged all temptation of the artistic pursuit, relying instead on the sensible acquisition of a university degree that she assured would forge a pathway into a legitimate and mainstream career.
However, the God’s had already spoken long before she came. I was to be a creative – a writer, specifically – and there was nothing mainstream about that. It’s just that not her, nor I, knew this yet. Of course all the signs had always been there, but it took years and years of swinging in-and-out of college degrees, tumbling through an eclectic assortment of industries, and enduring my fair proportion of existential suffering (Who Am I?, What Is My Purpose?, etc.), before I realised that writing was my soul’s true vocation.
This travail that led me here, I now know, was only a preface for the much greater hurdle that was about to come: the age-old idiom and very real plight of the young artist trying to slam a foot through that elusive door. This is the hard part. It is a wild testing of gusto and strength, a sort-of proverbial limbo period of the green creative who has grown beyond amateur but is not quite a specialist, has fledged but is not yet soaring, is experienced but perhaps not experienced enough. It is a time of radical rejection when more unsuccessful applicant emails are received than CV’s are sent out, when coming so close but so far away becomes a frequent occurrence, and when being beat out by someone just like you, but with just that little bit of a thicker portfolio than you, is a weekly chronic.
Perhaps in keeping with my Gen’ Y tendencies, the digital landscape is where I chose to angle the ballistic trajectory of my booted heel. Armed with a solid portfolio of freelance copywriting and editorial work that has been enough to spark the attention of the agency owners capable of granting my golden ticket into the world of digital content creation, it seems without the direct-correlational experience within a full-time capacity to truly prove my competency, the goal remains an arduous reach.
It’s been a seven-month uphill slog of attempting to dislodge myself from being an administration executive and freelance writer into a full-time content creator, and the causes for difficulty are without wonder. The digital market for paid, full-time writers is highly competitive and the very few positions’ that exist are tightly held. Perhaps this denotes why there seems to be no tangible sense of community amongst local writers for support or guidance, evoking the sense of a justly-selfish sub-culture who have been forced to operate under the individualistic war-cry of ‘every man for himself.’ This imbalance of supply and demand also negatively affects many of the salary packages offered by the publications that can provide writers with opportunities – not that I believe that beggars should ever be choosers, but there is a fine line between minimum wage and nineteenth century field slave earnings – like one popular Sydney-based digital culture magazine I’ve met with who offer the latter to their starving writers whom can barely make their rent each month.
Most intriguing, however, has been my experience sitting down to chat with Chief Operators of Search companies in the messy midst of desperately trying to pull together previously non-existent content divisions within their agency architecture to better service their clients. The re-structures have come after Google’s erratic shake-up of natural search guidelines, signaling out quality and unique content as the key factors’ in pushing website rankings higher. The bright side is that Google’s upset has equated to more opportunities for writers and content creators to take full-time seats that previously were a rare come by within this exciting sector of media.
Although, the spanner in the Search industry clogs appears to have created mass confusion and a stunted deliberation, at least amongst the SEO agencies I have had dealings with, who seem apprehensive about which direction to go when choosing just what breed of creative or writer is required to successfully integrate and build into this new branch of their business.
Considering all these things, the whole trying to ‘get a foot in’ is an exhausting predicament to every young creative trapped in a similar posture. The question than falls on: how do we leap over this stubborn and rather confidence-debilitating hurdle – that sometimes makes our artistic blessing feel more like a curse – over into the greener pastures where the future of our professional creative lives reside?
The only answer I can conclude is, simply, to keep-on keeping-on. I don’t believe there is any other option, other than quitting – but no one is a fan of that. Charge forward regardless of the disappointment or rejection. Continue to seek out freelance opportunities that will potentially give you advantage over whomever you are next angled up against. Channel the hardship into a creative energy to fuel your writing. Bang on the doors of anyone and everyone you know who can provide a steady leg-up. And, most importantly, take the time to seek out a supportive and brilliant recruiter specialising in whichever industry you have set your imaginative sight on, who will make one other person in the world – beside yourself – who knows you’re a genius. At least until that magnificent day, when you slam that foot right through the no-longer elusive door, straight into that job of your dreams.
Written by Rachael Sorensen http://www.
Interactiveinc is a digital recruitment company based in Sydney specialising in creative, accounts, technical, UX and social media roles www.interactiveinc.com.au