Career Exploration

The List

Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.

Winston Churchill

This quote can seem perplexing upon first read. What’s the use of planning if you think plans are of little importance? But the observation really speaks to something I noted in my previous postthe plan will change. Plans are of little importance because they will never go exactly as … well, planned. But planning is essential because it lies the foundation that allows you to quickly pivot when you do hit that unexpected curve in the road.

And while at first this concept can seem frustrating, it’s actually quite liberating. It means I can have a basic direction but be perfectly comfortable when the path bends a way I didn’t expect.

So, I’d like to think that my outline below is not necessarily a plan but rather a reflection of the planning. It’s the foundation upon which I will venture into new territories, while taking the surprise twists and turns in stride.

Video Producer

Why it interests me?

I like the idea of being able to work on a creative project from inception through final product, managing both the vision and the execution. The type of work is a good mix of flexing your creative muscles but also relying on being very organized and structured. I’m also drawn to storytelling, and I like that as a video producer, I would have a lot of creative control.

Just need a beret, and I’m set!

How will I explore?

  • Paid classes & workshops
  • Short films
  • Free or contract video projects
  • Interview people working as a video producer

Resources

Web Developer

Why it interests me?

In one of my first jobs, I worked at a nonprofit where we did a complete website overhaul. I wanted to know more about being able to set up pages myself, so I taught myself basic HTML. At my next job at an email marketing agency, I actually got to put those skills to the test – whenever our web developers were overloaded with work, I’d do the basic HTML set-up myself.

With web development, I like the idea that typing in a little code in one place, transforms the web page on the other end. I also like that a lot of times web development involves figuring out solutions — almost like cracking a case. Why isn’t that working the way I think it should?  What would be the best way to set this up?

Does watching Hackers on repeat count?

How will I explore?

  • Talk to web developers
  • Online training/learning
  • Bootcamps
  • Building/managing websites for free

Resources

Content Creator

Why it interests me?

When I put this one on my list, I was really referring to being an independent content creator. I love the idea of being able to talk or write about my passions – food, travel, creative projects. For years, I’ve thought about starting a blog or my own YouTube channel. Enough with thinking; time to start doing!

An Instagram-worthy workspace is a requirement of any good blogger.

How will I explore?

  • This blog documenting my sabbatical journey
  • Food video series
  • Submitting articles to sites that allow contributor content

Resources

Furniture Upcycler

Why it interests me?

I’ve watched way too many episodes of Flea Market Flip.

No, but really, I love the idea of giving things a new life. Transformation. I also like the idea of being able to work with my hands and be creative.

This is where you learn that you can convert anything into a bar cart.

How will I explore?

  • Free (or close to free projects): work with existing furniture or found furniture
  • Commissioned pieces
  • Booth at a flea market
  • Courses – upholstery, woodworking

Resources

Real Estate Agent

Why it interests me?

I like the idea of helping people find the right home. I think I have a talent for listening to people’s needs, translating them and finding the perfect solutions, product, etc. I also like that it seems like you could have a pretty independent work life.

I will need to practice the perfect key-handing-over pose.

How will I explore?

  • Talk to/shadow real estate agents
  • Read articles about becoming a real estate agent

Resources

Interior Designer

Why it interests me?

Creativity abounds! I like the idea of getting to work on distinct projects, so the work is always fresh and new. I also love the idea of getting to be creative and innovative. And to be honest, years of watching HGTV shows has finally gotten to me.

Mood boards and swatches and tiles, oh my!

How will I explore?

  • Interview people who’ve gotten into interior design
  • Free work/projects
  • Classes

Resources

Major Gifts Officer

Why it interests me?

The success of a major gifts officer lies in building relationships with big donors. I used to work in sales, and my favorite part was getting to know my clients on a personal level, socializing with them at conferences, and strengthening that relationship. In this line of work, you get to drive to the core of a donor’s passions.

“But, you see, it’s not every donor that would have the vision to name a bathroom …”

How will I explore?

  • Talk to/shadow major gifts officers
  • Volunteer

Resources

Theater Executive Director

Why it interests me?

Anyone who knows me, knows I love the theater. And I’ve been an actor for years. But beyond being onstage, there’s the thrill of telling a story, creating something new, and delighting audiences. I also really like managing things and being the leader. I think as an Executive Director, rather than the Artistic Director, I would get a healthy mix of the creative side and the organization side.

I hope to be a little more effective in filling up the house than this guy.

How will I explore?

  • Interview theater Executive Directors
  • Volunteer for duties that an Executive Director often does

Resources

Actor

Why it interests me?

Funny enough, this one was actually not on my original sabbatical list, even though this is the one career that I’ve said I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a kid. Yes, even as a painfully shy child, I said I wanted to be an actor because I loved the idea of getting to be different people and playing make-believe. I think I left it off the list because I was scared what would happen to this activity that I love so much, if I added the stress of actually needing to make an income from it. And I may very well not be able to make a living doing this (especially in the Bay Area), but it doesn’t hurt to try!

My career as an actor can be defined by my ridiculous facial expressions in production photos.

How will I explore?

  • Talking to people who are doing acting on a professional basis
  • Researching non-theater paying acting gigs

Resources

 

So, that’s where I’m going to start! It’s a rough blueprint. I’ve sketched out my initial ideas, but I welcome any suggestions of other resources I should add to my exploration toolkit. Leave a comment if you have any recommendations!


In case you missed it, check out why I’ve decided to embark on this new career exploration and the overview of my sabbatical plan.

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