Last week, I was at my son’s middle school for Career Day. I struggled a bit as I thought of how to describe what I do and whether it would be relevant to 11- and 13-year olds.
Could I show them how working out loud would give them access to opportunities that could make work – and life – better?
“How would you find a job?”
So I started with a question: “How would you find a job?” And the responses from the 50 kids in two different classes were largely the same.
“Fill out a form”
“You might see a help wanted sign”
“Apply on line.”
“Ask family and friends.”
They were the same answers I would have given 30+ years ago. Then I followed up with a question they found much more interesting.
“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
Now more hands shot up. “Baseball player.” “Something with physics.” “Decorate cakes.”
“Decorate cakes?” I asked. “Okay. How would you get a job decorating cakes?”
The aspiring cake decorator said she might go to her local bakery and apply. Good. But what if she could put her cake decorating skills online so 100 or 1000 bakeries could see what she could do?
Another girl piped up: “Like Rosanna Pansino.”
Um, who? “She bakes things and puts her videos on YouTube.”
So I pulled out my phone, searched for Rosanna Pansino and, sure enough, I found this:
Rosanna, it turns out, is 28 years old and has had some minor acting roles. But she also loves baking. And instead of applying for a baking job, she starting using social media to make her work visible and establish her reputation as the “Baker of Nerdy Things.”
Best. Job. Ever.
The other kids laughed and the teacher was skeptical. “Are there jobs like that?” But the kids knew better. “Sure! You could test games.” “You could create them.” “You could play them in contests.” “You could write books.”
Having gone through several examples of working out loud with the class, I asked them: “What advice would you give your classmate? How could he find opportunities to play video games for a living?”
“He could post cheat codes online.” “He could post videos of him playing.” “He could play online where other people could see him.”
In short, he could play games in an online, public way that would make his skills searchable and discoverable while helping him connect with people in the gaming world. He could work out loud.
How would you find your next job?
If young people can embrace the idea of working out loud for such a wide range of aspirations, what will you do when you look for a new job? Will you fill out a form? Ask your friends and family for connections?
The universe of possible positions for you is so large and yet the traditional routes to finding a job are so grossly limiting and ineffective. You, your broker, and your close connections will only be aware of a small sliver of the possibilities unless you use social platforms and work out loud.
As the class got ready for their next session, I had one final question.
“You have an incredible advantage. You have ways to make you and your work visible that people my age never had. As a result, you have access to so many more opportunities than your teacher and me.
How will you use that advantage?”