Each of you who work in a creative field should be engaged at all times on something that is a passion project for you. For the purposes of career development it should be something that you can talk about with excitement and plan eventually to show the fruits. If you play your cards right, it could even be something you are being paid to do – this is surely the goal for most of us – to be paid to do what we love.
However, many of us have had jobs that demanded very high entry qualifications, a very rigorous portfolio inspection, a super-high standard all around – but once we are inside the organization, the regime did not allow for such great work to emerge. The result can be that after a couple of years of this work we don’t have a portfolio strong enough to get our own job back! So we should be working on a passion project on the side, so that it will be available to provide a future employer with the evidence that we have continued to push the boundaries and display our creative chops. It will show that even though we were working in a conservative environment, we kept on exploring and pushing ourselves so that we are just what a potential new employer is looking for.
I have been looking at the job qualifications for a slew of posted creative positions – and they ask for team leadership or writing skills, editing or conceptual or innovation skills. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could refer immediately to your passion project and use the energy you bring to it to exemplify those qualities that the employer is looking for?
In any case when you talk about any gigs or projects you have worked on you should be aware of what your stories are saying about you. You should choose your examples to showcase just what you want to brag about. (Don’t tell the stories of fiascos! Even if they are good stories.) Show that you are innovative for example by describing, vividly and with pride and excitement, a particular project that showcases your pushing of the envelope. And how great if that project is happening right now so that you are immersed in it and working it through so that the case also demonstrates how you think about it. Talking about your passion project is one of the best ways to illustrate your strengths.
Aside from providing the inspiration for pitching your virtues, your passion project is an opportunity for you to explore new techniques, ideas, tools that you are excited by. You can experiment without a client or manager to interfere. They will work or maybe they won’t – but you will learn something and could even get a stellar portfolio piece.
Passion for what you do will take you a long way and be remarkably attractive to employers. So have your passion project always on deck so that yours is demonstrably genuine.