Saturday, 4 May 2013

What’s the question you most dread being asked by your parents? Let me guess. “When are you going to get a proper job?” Some of us are fortunate to have supportive families, who “get” our creative career. Some of us aren’t. Next time you find yourself fending off enquiries about whether a better-paid and more reliable profession mightn’t have been a better choice, try the following retorts.

“There’s no such thing as a proper job” 

Time was, you’d go to school, maybe university, then bag yourself a job and stay with that company for the next 40 years, growing greyer and more portly, until you retired with a decent pension and a bottle of single Malt. How times have changed! Of course there are still jobs with a clear career path, but fewer people’s working lives conform to the job-for-life formula your folks probably have in mind. They might not realise that these days less conventional working practices – portfolio careers, self-employment and the like – are becoming increasingly commonplace.

“That’s not how the creative industries work – let me explain...” 

Here’s a thought. Maybe your parents don’t actually understand what you do. You can’t really blame them. Who really knows what other people’s jobs involve day-to-day? Not me. Most of the time when people tell me their job titles, I smile, nod and ask for clarification. There are exceptions – police officers, teachers – although most of what I know about them is gleaned from watching The Wire. If your dad’s an accountant, why should he know what a creative producer does?

Not understanding creative work makes it seem more precarious. But, according to a report by the think tank DEMOS, there’s little evidence to back up the perception that starting a creative business is higher risk then other types of business. In fact, half of new creative businesses survive past five years, compared to just a third of new restaurants. I'd like to see them tell Gordon Ramsey to go get a “proper” job.

Read the full article on IdeasTap.

Image by Richard Rhee, on a Creative Commons license.

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