Writer’s Life: what I learned after a year being Unemployed
Regardless of the birthplace, size or galaxy of origin of each human being, people suffer at the face of a frightening situation: unemployment. At least, I don’t know anyone who says “Yes! I’m finally unemployed, my lifelong dream!”. Maybe there are some specimens who enjoy this state, but luckily I have never met them.
On this occasion, I will bring my most illustrious alter ego, Don Duilius, who always accompanies me when giving advice. Also, this way is more fun.
Just to clear things, neither he nor I come to provide you with a magic formula to avoid unemployment, but instead offer you some fragments of my experience that helped me out of that desperate condition and to direct my career to the place I wanted.
In March 2018, I lost my employed job due to the terrible economic situation in my country and, consequently, the downfall of the company where I worked. A year later, I am working as a writer and videogame designer for GameOlic, my dream job in my favorite industry.
I have to admit and confess that I followed the advice that I bring today almost unconsciously, and I would’ve liked do all this more consciously. I’m sure I would’ve obtained results more quickly. It’s not that I am an extremely successful writer (yet), nor the most influential person in the world (yet); I’m just an ordinary person, like you, like your neighbors, who was able to achieve one of the central objectives of his life.
1) Act Professionally
In short, this means studying, producing and working based on the career path you want to pursue.
It’s an extremely useful habit, especially for the newer professions where outsourcing is more common with each passing day.
- Industrial design? Work assiduously in a folder of designs and ideas.
- Software development? Create numerous web pages or applications to practice and add to your portfolio.
- Illustration? Never spend a day without drawing and without sharing your sketches and studies.
- Video game writer? Write as much as you can and apply your work to the field of video games.
In March 2014, I got my degree in Communications with a thesis entitled “Videogames and Communication, a Semiotic Study of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Bioshock”. Since then, it was clear that I wanted to link my professional career to the gaming world.
After that, I had a couple of employed jobs in some companies, but I never stopped working on my writing and my creativity. Moving forward to March 2018, as I said at the beginning, everything seemed gray in the face of unemployment, but far from falling into despair and anguish (well, maybe a little), I sought to do everything I could, and never abandoned my writings.
I started working as a freelance, proofreading thesis and other academic papers, doing community management or UI/UX design, a set of skills that I acquired over the years that then served me (and still serve me) for mere survival.
The important thing, the really important thing, was everything I did according to my objective. I started to accumulate all my experience, knowledge and ideas and I put them here on Medium, on YouTube and on Facebook, writing about how to create fantasy worlds, sharing part of my work in semiotics and the strong points of my thesis, giving advice on writing and hosting workshops related to creativity and content development.
In short, I acted professionally. I used my previous experience as a writer and content creator, and transformed it professionally.
Perhaps the background to this advice is “decide what you really want to be and commit to it”. I decided that I wanted to be a writer at age 13, but it wasn’t until I matured my writing and my work process that I began to act professionally.
The creative path is only long if one behaves in an amateur or uncomitted way. Like any profession, it requires dedication and discipline.
Among my friends there are clear examples of how important it is to act professionally. One of them made the decision to be a software developer, and decided to self-learn. After a few months, he got his first job; one year later, he was hired by one of the largest software companies in Argentina. In addition to being an example of discipline and dedication, this person had another successful attitude, which helps me to introduce the following advice: he joined a WhatsApp group of self-taught Software students.
2) Connect with people of the same field
When you want to achieve an objective, the best practice is to look for people who have already achieved it or who are on the same path than you. I think this is perhaps the most important piece of advice that we will discuss in this article.
Connecting with people in the same field has many advantages. It helps us measure ourselves and check the state in which we find ourselves. It makes us feel accompanied, and this is key for humans; we are social animals and we need to belong to a group. It allows us to know job opportunities that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
The most important thing about connecting with groups of people in the same sector is the possibility of finding someone to show us and guide us along the right path. I can’t stress enough how useful and fruitful a mentor is; if someone has already traveled on a path, he or she can help us to progress more quickly and easily. It can help us to act professionally.
One way or another, surrounding yourself with equals is the best way to achieve a desired goal or habit. This isn’t something I’ve invented, instead, this is preciselly one of the things that the science of behaviorism states. And it really works.
In my case, I was lucky that a friend suggested I join a series of videogame developers Facebook groups. Social Media allow us today to connect with our peers much easier than a few years ago.
This small action, that is, a couple of clicks to join the right groups, was crucial to get where I am today. Of course, it’s not enough to just join; you have to participate, discuss and debate. In my case, sharing my articles and ideas in those groups led to the right people reading about my work and offering the job I have today.
But the most important thing about connecting with people in a similar situation is the mutual help it brings. In addition, the support and progress of others drives us to move forward, even in the worst days.
3) Frequent the key places of your desired profession
This comes hand in hand with the previous point. Today, social networks and the world wide web have become some kind of “virtual places” where people meet without actually meeting.
What we could achieve before by doing courses or seminars, today we do it in forums, groups and webinars. What we studied in an institution, today we do it remotely, with the internet.
The truth is that nothing is more useful to connect with peers than the traditional “face-to-face” mode. Most of the freelance work that I did during the past year was thanks to the direct contact with my clients. Moreover, I got more job interviews participating in meetups and going to events than applying to jobs through web platforms.
Of course, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the internet. In fact, in my case, it was the “online mode” that led me to fulfill my goal.
The ideal state would be to take advantage of both modalities and try to cover as much terrain as possible.
None of the three isolated steps were the ones that took me to where I am today, but the combination of the three.
The logic behind these tips would be as it follows:
If you want to be a [Profession], act as a [Profession], connect with people from that [Profession], and frequent the places you would frequent a [Profession].
Replace [Profession] with your desired career, and the formula is completed. If you want to be an Researcher, do a research that you could do with your available resources, seek to meet other researchers, and attend seminars and trainings for researchers.
After a year without a formal employed job, I learned that we are really unemployed when we surrender to unemployment.
I learned that if you behave professionally, contact colleagues and frequent places related to the desired profession, results are obtained much faster.
Of course, everything depends on the level of dedication, discipline and, above all, patience that you invests in your career.
And more importantly, don’t come up with excuses.
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