How secure are we in our careers? How can we plan for an unexpected future? I’m sure everyone has asked themselves these questions at one time or another and its true, the future is an unpredictable notion. As Sharni Chan stated “around 40% of Australia’s population are in insecure jobs”.
This event, ‘Junkee Presents: how to survive without a real job’ was hosted at the vivid ideas exchange in the museum of contemporary art. It was designed to give advice on how to make a freelance career work for you. The panel consisted of five very talented people who have achieved outstanding success in their fields. They have all been through that difficult starting out period and shared their tactics on how they survived and are still surviving in an unpredictable industry.
Benjamin Law is a freelance journalist, columnist, television screen writer, and is the author of two books. Something I found impressive was that he has never had a proper job with a dependable salary. He expressed that as a writer you must have incredible self-discipline to ensure that deadlines are met. Developing a professional network is also beneficial as most companies and employment agencies find people to fill their vacant positions through networks such as LinkedIn. For people aspiring to be a part of the creative sector in areas such as photography and writing, other social media avenues such as Instagram are important so you can gather followers. Followers are able to enhance your status in the creative industry where the more people know you the more work you will receive. Ben has a quirky personality and seemed comfortable speaking in front of an audience. I can see why he is so successful in his field.
Sharni Chan is a sociologist who is currently completing her PhD research into work among highly skilled workers. Although Sharni works for the University of New South Wales, she brings to light the struggles of keeping a position in academia and refers to the term ‘ten year teaching position’ as a myth in today’s society. Sharni stressed the importance of socialising and solidarity, stating that getting out each day and conversing with people is a healthy part of life. Sharni made a point that most jobs won’t pay well when you are starting out. On occasion she has had to clean bed and breakfast accommodation and water gardens to make some extra cash – sometimes just what you have to do to survive. Sharni had a great quote to share which I found inspiring and worth sharing. It was ‘find what you love and make it bigger but you don’t have to harness what you love for money’.
By “Find what you love and make it bigger” she meant that the small enjoyments that you may love can be made into a career that you love. Whatever it may be (whether sewing, books, design etc) you can turn it into a career and something which could give you happiness and success in life.
But, by “You don’t have to harness what you love for money” she means that occasionally when you turn what you love into your work, it can transform your relationship with that passion and you can begin to resent it, so it’s important to know that it is not a necessity to centre your work around your passions.
Kate Hennessy is a freelance writer and editor who mixes lower paid work in music reviewing, book editing and arts journalism with higher paid work in corporate communications. She expressed the importance of building a personal brand and getting good reviews. Asking for a positive reference for any work you do and creating a portfolio will assist you well in any career goal. If you are aiming for a career where you will be self-employed then finding a good accountant, establishing a healthy workspace and giving yourself a holiday during down periods is essential. Kate is a talented woman and should be commended for her work.
Andrew Levins was one of my favourites thanks to his down to earth personality. Levins, as he likes to be called, is a DJ, chef, writer and dad. I guess you could say he is the ‘Wonder Woman’ of men. His advice was to make sure you back up everything, don’t put all your creative aspirations into one basket and learn to say no when it’s appropriate.
Lastly we have Tim Fung who is the co-founder and CEO of Airtasker.com which if you haven’t heard of it, is a marketplace for people and businesses in the community to post something they need help with such as moving and locate services of staff close by. Tim’s advice was from a business point of view, explaining that just because you have money doesn’t mean you should spend it. There will always be unexpected expenses and it’s better to be prepared. He also suggested being stingy on costs where you can.
Overall, this was a great experience with some great advice. I am hoping that other GLP readers will be able to take something from one or more of these successful people and use it to help their own careers.
By Jazmin Skerton (2nd year psychology student)
*Jazmin attended the Junkee session as part of the Experiential Credit component of her GLP Undergraduate program (GL X30- Attend 2 On/Off Campus Careers Events).