“Whatever hands-on experience you can get, take it, and take more than you think you can handle. Don’t limit your writing experience to the typical classroom workshop environment, where egos can be fragile and stakes are low.”
In this advice, Jane Friedman is specifically referring to undergrad students who are pursuing a creative writing degree. It’s good advice for them, and there’s more from her here.
I think this lesson applies to beginning careers of all kinds: When you’re starting out or trying to establish yourself in an unfamiliar industry, whatever experience you can get, take it.
You know that old thing about how you can’t get a good job without experience, and you can’t get experience without the job?
It’s a fallacy. It may or may not be hard to get the good job (and beware if you do), but opportunities for experience are everywhere. As Jane hints at, it may be best to look outside the classroom (or job site, or wherever the obvious source is). A few options:
- Become an Instant Consultant
- Volunteer with a Local Group
- Start a Blog
- Host Travelers in Your Home (or dorm room…)
- Attend a Language Learning Meetup
What else can you think of?
By the way, there’s a side benefit of taking experience: it may turn into something much more than free experience. Great inventions have come from side projects. New careers are created through sabbaticals. Experimentation is the fuel of curiosity.
But even if not, you’ll still have the experience.