Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King

It is often hard to stay inspired during this difficult time. Things can look bleak – whether you’re reading the news or braving the world outside of your home. San Francisco has lost its charm during the pandemic. Streets are deserted. Businesses are boarded up and graffitied. All the cultural…

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How To Get Into A Tech Career Successfully

It is no secret that the technology sector offers high-paying, lucrative, and flexible career opportunities. After all, these positions offer an enticing work-life balance, career growth, and professional development. For tech enthusiasts such as yourself, this allows you to discover new aptitude, challenge yourself with a continuous learning curve, and be your unique, creative self. However, effectively finding and securing a job in tech can be awfully intimidating. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to make the transition less overwhelming and nerve-wracking. 

Build up your soft skills

First off, it is important to hone the soft skills that are essential for a career in tech. Prospective employers can teach you hard skills, such as coding languages, programming algorithms or data structures. However, you are expected to already be proficient in soft skills, which emphasize your personal qualities and character. For a high-paying tech role, you need to be expert in information synthesizing and troubleshooting. Similarly, it is fundamental to be well-versed in project management, analytics, and perseverance. In fact, you should be extremely seasoned in key principles of effective communication. Other important skills to focus on include resourcefulness and organization. 

Master advanced tech & programming tools

Next, you should master advanced tech and software development tools. Modern information technology (IT) teams rely on several powerful solutions to revamp efficiency, productivity, and project management. For example, you can optimize your pipeline with a Docker registry by JFrog, which will help to automate development, manage distribution, and perform secure vulnerability analyses. Adopting these solutions, you can maximize resource utilization, reliably deploy containers, and better team collaboration. Naturally, these tools help your secure images and gain deeper insights into issues, which will promote operating system stability. 

Attend tech conferences, workshops, & seminars

Now, you are ready to attend some technology conferences, workshops, and seminars. In fact, you may even want to check out some local IT expositions, trade shows, or career fairs. Most jobs are obtained through professional networking, and technology is no exception. Attending local meetups is a great way to integrate yourself into your municipality’s IT community. At each gathering, professionals in tech will collaborate to share relevant work subjects, advertise open roles, and mingle with prospective candidates. This will provide you with first hand, expert knowledge, as well as entrance into new professional circles. 

Get active on social media

At this point, you should try to get and remain active on social media. Social media has become a major hub for making connections, sharing information, and recruiting top talent in the tech world. You can take advantage of this rapidly-growing network by starting tech conversations and interactions all over social media. Follow along with basic conversations, or dive into deeper, niche areas of interest. This way, you can become an active member of the community, which will help you gain new contacts and boost career opportunities. In fact, bolstering your social engagement will even help you to garner attention from industry-leaders in tech. Since you may be speaking with prospective employers, it is important to additionally work on your social media etiquette as well. 

Brush up on your interviewing skills

Of course, it helps to brush up on your interviewing skills to get a job in tech. Tech interviews are often much different than your typical job screening. Be prepared to answer questions that are directly related to your hard skills, experience, or proficiency in technology. Simultaneously, you should be ready to discuss any recent tech projects, such as software, mobile apps, or website. At the same time, you may want to brush up on some notoriously tricky interview questions to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Moreover, there are several simple job interview tips that you should certainly follow in preparation for your job examination. 

There are plenty of important steps to help you secure a tech career. First off, build up your soft skills portfolio. Next, master some popular IT and programming tools, such as Docker registries. You should attend some local tech expos, workshops, and other informative gatherings, and get active on social media. It is additionally important to brush up on your interview skills. Follow the steps highlighted above to learn about how to get into a tech career.

Can Your Craft Become Your Livelihood? A Conversation with Grant Ginder

That creative thing you love—writing, painting, designing, composing—that’s what you do for pleasure. To relax, unwind, escape. Many of us hold a belief that the thing we love to do and the thing we get paid to do can’t be one and the same. Unless, of course, you’re Lizzo or Stephen King. 

But what if that assumption is wrong? What if there's a way to add a small revenue stream, or even make a full-time career, out of the creative thing you love?

Becoming a creative begins with creating.

I sat down with novelist Grant Ginder (author of The People We Hate at the Wedding and Honestly, We Meant Well) who boldly shares his advice on how he turned his writing hobby into a profession and how he believes you can follow his lead down any artistic path you choose.

What makes someone an artist?

When I asked Grant what makes someone an artist, he chuckled before confessing that even as a published author, he struggles to claim the title out loud.

"I think … so much of it is just a matter of taking ownership. [We tend to believe] you're not allowed to call yourself a painter unless you've sold paintings. But a painter is someone who paints. …I spend a lot of my day writing, and so I'm a writer. Getting anyone else to take you seriously is to take yourself seriously. And part of taking yourself seriously is calling yourself what you are."

Addressing the mindset of art as a hobby or creative pursuit only

Many of us carry a creative wish or talent inside of us. And yet so many believe that our art—the creating—is the thing we must do after the “real job” is done. Being creative happens separately from being a professional.

"My parents… encouraged me to follow those [writing] ambitions. And if I would've told them after I graduated college ‘I'm going to go be a writer’… they would have [said] ‘Maybe you won't be doing that.’

"When my first book came out, my parents had a celebration for me and my dad was giving a speech. He said ‘Grant said he was going to write a book and we didn't believe it!'"

Then, after Grant’s second book was published, his parents (supportively) expressed the same surprise.

"It was a mixed message. It’s not just your parents [sending you this message]—I think you have pressures from all sides; from school, from media, from just looking at the world around you. It’s like the only [artists] that matter are the ones who make a lot of money. I think it’s a very skewed way of looking at art."

Making the move from amateur to creative professional

It's all well and good to say that we should all support creative pursuits as a means to an income. But how do you actually get started on making it official? The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that becoming a creative begins with creating.

"For me, the creating part was learning to set aside time, and to protect that time, to engage in this particular craft… I would write on the weekends a lot. [I had to learn] to say no to things… [because] this is the time that I've set aside to engage in this process, and I'm going to engage in this process now. Holding yourself to that and getting other people to recognize and take that seriously [is essential]."

He also speaks to the importance of consuming the art form you want to produce. For Grant, that’s the novel. But he acknowledges that it's probably the same for other creative arts like painting or music. The process involves analysis and self-reflection.

"You read a novel and you want to write one of these things. [What do you like about it? Why do you like that? And how is that writer doing that thing? And so, [you're] coming at it as… someone who's trying to train themselves in a particular craft. I think that's kind of step one in producing something [creative]."

Finding inspiration and motivation

Sometimes you don't have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike you. You have a job to do.

What about inspiration? Do you wait for it to strike or do you just have to start?

Grant believes the artist simply has to start.

"I don't believe that I have to wait for inspiration to strike. I actually think that this comes from my training as a speechwriter, and from writing under deadlines. Sometimes you don't have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike you. You have a job to do."

He pointed to an idea he paraphrased from novelist Taffy Brodesser-Akner:

"You write a sentence. Just write that sentence. And it might be a really bad sentence, but the next one will probably be a little bit better."

"I'm also a fan of super messy first drafts. I think my writing is at its worst and my process is at its worst when I get way too precious. Am I in the mood? Is the light in the apartment just right? It's like, no, just roll up your sleeves and start."

Getting your creation out into the world

Once you’ve written or painted or composed the thing, is there a clear, step-by-step roadmap to getting it out into the world? Grants recommendations were refreshing. And relatable.

1. Do your research

"I used Google. When I wrote my first novel, I Googled ‘how many words are in a novel?

"I've always loved writing. I've always loved reading. And so, on breaks [from my speechwriting job], I would write. And, I kept that up. And then… when I reached that magic number [of novel words], I Googled ‘how to publish a novel.

"My path was like a Google Commercial."

Grant's googling led him to conclude that he needed to find a literary agent. And, of course, he then used Google to find out what a literary agent was. 

"Your research is really important [in figuring out] what the next steps are and how to prepare yourself for those steps."

2. Be scrappy

"I started realizing I'd never really read the acknowledgments in the backs of books before. So I started reading the acknowledgments… and authors thank their agents. So if I really liked the book, I would read the acknowledgments and keep a list of who the agents were.

"When it was time for me to query agents… I reached out to those agents. Some of them didn’t respond, but some did. It takes a while. You get a lot of rejections. But I told myself that for every rejection, I was going to send it out to two more people. You just chip away."

I told myself that for every rejection, I was going to send it out to two more people. You just chip away.

3. Make connections

"I assume this would translate to other fields—developing a network of other writers, painters, musicians helping each other … to navigate the landscape."

Grant had no prior knowledge of the steps to take in getting a book published. He had no connections. He had only a book, a wish, and a decent internet connection. And this is how he would advise any creator to figure things out as they go.

How do you handle rejection?

Grant mentioned rejection. And I wasn’t letting him off the hook. How, I asked, do you deal with rejection?

"There is this incredible vulnerability in putting something out in the world. It's something that you've sat with for years. And it's just [been] you, engaging with [it]. Then all of a sudden it's in the hands of everyone and they're allowed to think whatever they want about it.

"I think you have to get to this state—and I'm not there yet—[but] I imagine [it’s] like the author's Nirvana… where I’ve made this thing that belonged to me while I was making it. And I am now putting it forth for interpretation… [but] texts are meant to be read and processed in a variety of different ways. And I think that… the more you can lean into that belief, the happier, and probably the better writer you can be."

Grant's advice to budding creatives

I wrapped our interview with this question: What’s the one piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self?

Here’s a (slightly paraphrased) summary of the pep talk Grant wished he'd received.

"Just sit down and do it. Trust the process. One sentence will lead to the next sentence, which will lead to the next. Don't worry so much. Just write the book you want to write."

What I Would Change About My College Experience

  Recently, I published the post How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees and Saved $37,500. While I did graduate quickly and there are benefits related to that, there are things I missed out on by rushing my college experience. Now I wouldn’t say I had the worst college experience, but I also wouldn’t […]

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My home buying story: How VA loans helped this service member buy a home

    Name: Chris V. Year: 2004 City: Kapolei Occupation: Army Age: 21 Salary: $20,000 + $1,300 a month housing allowance Home Price: $160,000 Chris and his wife, Nichole, had only been married for a couple of years when they bought their first home in 2004. Like most young couples, they didn’t have enough income for a giant mortgage or […]

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