I was so ‘wrapped up’ in a job that I forget to ‘protect’ my future!
When I left my full-time job at Burberry, just over a year ago, I obviously reassured my parents that I’d be getting another one straight away. But deep down I knew it was just another one of those ‘say the right thing, keep my parents quiet’ type of lies. They don’t read PYT so I can say that with my chest (Ergh no, not my real ‘chest’, it’s just a phrase that means ‘…with confidence!’). Anyway, the truth is, I didn’t know what I could do next. My options seemed smaller than they were when I was only a graduate. So as an experienced industry professional, I had to ask myself if I even had the required skills to take on a brand new role and start fresh in a new company? I honestly didn’t know…
Crazy right? I literally felt like my ONLY, but oddly less frightening option was to start my own thing.
Now that I’ve reached the ripe old age of 25, (age says woman, mind says ‘Spice Girl’), I’m very proud of the choices I’ve made. Especially the ones concerning my body, mind and time. As of now, I have no regrets and I like to think that the path I forge is leading me to life’s best possible destination.
But if I’m to be completely honest, there is one small thing I haven’t granted myself total forgiveness for just yet. Which is, not having picked up on a specific ‘profitable’ skill and worked my ass off to master it. Without a shadow of a doubt, that has been my biggest career oversight!
One of my former colleagues, Sophie Richardson, paid attention to the quiet voice that said ‘Hey, you’re actually really good at photography’ and through that, she built a camera clicking side-hustle. A PAYING side hustle! At the time when we were still working together, I bought a DSLR camera, literally because I had spare money and knew someone that could get me a sweet discount. We joked around about spending the weekends shooting in London and perfecting our craft. Well, I joked and Sophie took it pretty seriously. Eventually, her side dish turned into the main entree, as they do, when she left our office to accept a photography job at Topshop.
Pick a specific profitable skill and work your ass off to master it!
After I left my job and during my period of being ‘fun-employed’, just before I started Pepper Your Talk, I spent a very brief period looking online for vacancies within the fashion sector. A small tinge of regret always ran through me when I’d see an interesting opening but would read on to find the words ‘Fluent in writing/speaking French’. I learnt French in school, as did almost every other British teenager. But, ask us to re-sit our oral exam today and it would be a much different looking GCSE results day. Another valuable skill down the drain…
In the world we live in today, very specific areas of tech or data analysis jobs are the roles deemed most valuable. Yet on specific inspection of the fashion industry, I’ve come to realise that the most in-demand and profitable skills happen to be the ones that facilitate customer interaction; such as photography, videography, copy and graphic design. These also happen to be the most creative outputs in which brands express their identity and values to their audience. Another observation worth highlighting is that the aforementioned skills are not limited to fashion at all and can be adapted and transferred across an assortment of companies and industries. Thus, making you a superhero and pretty indispensable once you’ve acquired any one of these talents.
The measure of a great skill is in the length of companies and industries
it crosses over.
Now, this forces me to think back to my last job, my most significant fashion experience, my 9-5 and 5 days a week! Although I progressed in my learnings of the specific role and various other soft skills, I remained completely stagnant with regards to my ‘careers worth’ and skill profitability. Don’t get me wrong, years in the corporate world taught me endless valuable lessons on communication, organisation and teamwork. But then again, I can’t say I’ve heard of anyone gaining an amazing job as a ‘freelancer organiser’ or ‘part-time team worker’? That just never happens…
I have no doubts what so ever that every single member of the Pepper Your Talk community is hard-working, passionate and a self-starter. But something I’ve been guilty of, which you may have done too, is the act of getting so lost in the idea of doing but to very little effect! Performance without a performance review. Is this something you can say is true of your own life and career trajectory? It’s a very humbling moment (in the best and worst way) and a confronting realisation to know that instead of progressing like you hope you’d been doing, the reality is that too much time has been spent running, with all your energy and strength …in one spot!
What I’ve learnt is that in order to avoid a life of little regret, we must fiercely structure a life of intention. Intention doesn’t mean you have all the answers and can guarantee the results. Instead, it’s the perfect cocktail of careful consideration for why you’re doing what you do and a conscious mind of how you can achieve the BEST possible results from said activity. Now, that’s a cocktail I could get drunk on everyday!
Words by Dior Bediako