SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
1.Tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.
I've worked for myself as a full-time freelance writer for a little over two years now. I get a lot of people that I assume I'm home all day writing the next great American novel. But, in reality, I'm not working on writing a book. Instead, I collaborate with a lot of awesome companies and publications to create content (mainly blog posts) that engages, inspires, and educates their audiences—and ultimately helps them to create a stronger brand! Currently, the bulk of my workload is focused on career advice and self-development topics.
2. Why did this type of work interest you? Is this something you always saw yourself doing?
You know, I wasn't one of those people who grew up knowing she was destined for a certain career path. Throughout my young adult life, my greatest passion was musical theatre—and, that was even my major when I started college. But, I quickly realized that I wasn't quite cut out for a life filled with that much competition and uncertainty and decided to change gears to major in Communication and Journalism.After graduation, I worked a traditional 9 to 5 in marketing for a few years, but felt a constant itch to try something different. I had always loved to write, and felt like I didn't have the opportunity to do as much of that at my full-time job. Both of my parents are small business owners, and they were the ones (along with my husband!) that really encouraged me to take the leap and explore making a living as a full-time freelancer. So, I did—and I haven't looked back!
3. What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job?
Well, since people pay me to write, I think that first and foremost you need to be a strong and talented writer. But, that one's probably a little too obvious. Beyond that, I think being a skilled networker is particularly important. I'd say that for any career, but especially when you're a freelancer. Your success really depends on the relationships you build, and you want to be building a lot of them!I also think persistence is a quality that doesn't always get enough credit. As I mentioned, my background is in musical theatre—but, I was instantly struck with one big similarity between that and a career in writing: They both come with a hefty dose of rejection. But, if you're able to take those not-so-fun experiences, learn from them, and ultimately make yourself better, that's where the real magic is. You need to be able to pick yourself up and try again—rejection is, unfortunately, inevitable.
4. Any final words of wisdom for those who are just beginning their careers?
I think my best piece of advice would be that you shouldn't be afraid to try new things. There's this idea that you need to have everything figured out right away—you need to walk off your graduation stage, diploma in hand, with this crystal clear picture of exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life. But, that's pretty much an impossible ideal. How can you know what you want to spend the next 50 years doing, when you haven't had a chance to try much of anything yet?
So, go out there and try your hand at a bunch of different things. Some might be total flops, and others might be the light bulb moment you've been waiting for. The important things is to not let yourself be pigeonholed into a certain path or position, simply because that's where all of your past experiences (or even your degree) are pointing you. There's a surprising amount of flexibility in your career, so take advantage of it!