Should I take this job*? A common question among creatives. Whether it’s an internship, a long-term project or a one-night gig, here’s my advice if you need help to decide.
A creative job can have three key factors: fun, experience, money.
Your job should at least have two factors. Three is perfect, one is not enough.
If you take a job, that is fun and gets you money, boom, you’re a lucky one. Do it! But after a while of enjoyment and spending that cash, can you find a task you can even learn from, devote yourself, generate something productive and gain in depth experience?
Blessed are those, whose job gives them experience (or exposure) and money. Congratulations, in a world of eternal interns, you are being paid to learn! Take that money and experience, hang in there, and eventually run to a job that will also bring you joy.
I used to be a dj. From the start it was fun, instructive and lucrative. Eventually, I was booked so much, that I didn’t learn anything more, which was fine. It was a professional comfort, I worked hard for. At some point I djed so much, I lost the initial spark of joy. So I stopped djing and looked for another task. Saying no to a job you don’t like anymore is deliberating.
If you get a job, that is fun and instructional, great. Just keep an eye on that bank account while you gather your experience cuz you can’t buy a sandwich with just that. And once you got enough expertise let people pay you for your skill. Do not underprize yourself once you are at a certain level. Do not support companies that make you work like a dog and pay you like a puppy intern. If you don’t know what to charge, the internet delivers lots of comparable wage charts.
It’s a running joke in Germany that Berlin Comedians don’t make money. We do have many unpaid shows. But we also have the most innovative comedy scene in Germany. And that’s interrelated. By having so many for-free-shows a creative potential could develop – a petri dish independent from money interests. We’ll start charging soon so come watch us now while we’re still affordable ha!
I get it, sometimes you just gotta pay a bill. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a money job, set fun and experience aside and save up for the future. In general, there is nothing wrong with just choosing one of the key factors – for a while. But getting no money for your art ever is not idealism, it’s exploitation. Loosing yourself in not having fun results in misery. And not getting experience becomes chronic boredom. Those are the three negative factors on the other side of that job coin, the opportunity costs of your creative lifetime. Remember why your are creative in the first place and what you initially wanted to achieve. Then do just that.
Do you have any comments on that? Is this helpful or common sense duh?
*(This is strictly for creative freelancers and artists, who sometimes have a hard time deciding what job to take. Of course, this is no in depth economic analysis, just common sense: often it’s the clarity and simplicity of a problem that helps us decide. We struggle, but we’re also in a privileged position being able to apply our talents. I know there are many hard working people out there, who face different job difficulties. I know there are many people, who would have wanted a creative career but didn’t have parents to support that tenth unpaid internship. So this really is just for creative freelancers and if it helps you as well, that makes me happy. Let me know, if you agree or disagree or if you have another advice to share.)