Careers and Transitory Works: How to Step Up

I was watching Sym-Bionic Titan, Genndy Tartakovsky latest work, and it felt as if he was using it to experiment and stretch himself.  Of course this is the man whose done work for such beloved animation work as Dexter's Laboratory, the Powerpuff Girls, and Samurai Jack.  He's a man of considerable talent, but this latest series felt as if he was creating something new, something to go a bit farther – to transition himself to an even more advanced set of skills and work.

"A transitional work" is what I christened it.  It inspired me to talk about the fact that many of us need do have works that let us change who we are and what we do in our careers.  It also gives me an excuse to go from giant robots to discussing your career – something I love to do.

Many of us want to do different things in the future – the editor becomes a writer, the cameraman becomes a director, etc.  However we can rarely leap from one profession to another. We need a transition period.

We also need a transitional work.  A programmer wishing to be a manager needs to help manage a project.  An editor turns writer needs to start getting published.  An artist turned ad manager needs to show they can clinch the sale.

Transitional works are important – but often forgotten – in our career changes.  They:

  • Help show we can actually do the job we want to do.  If you don't have proof you can do the job you aspire to, how are you going to get taken seriously?
  • Help us learn what we need to do for that next stage in our career.  Let's face it, you're unlikely to know what the next stage of your career will bring – and what challenges you'll face – until you have some experience.  A transitional work helps you get that experience.
  • Helps us find out if it's what we really want.  Maybe our dreams are misguided or need alteration or a delay.  Doing transitional work helps you find out if that is, sadly, true.
  • Allows us to make new allies, mentors, and connections needed for when we make the leap to our future career.

So if you're planning to make a career change start looking for that transitional project.  Maybe you can find it at work.  Maybe you can find it in your fandom.  Maybe you have to just make one for yourself.  Either way, the benefits are impossible to ignore.

– Steven Savage