Creative Skills Can Be Universal Ones

Posted by The Editors on August 5, 2011
Creative Skills Can Be Universal Ones

At a college reunion this summer, I had the pleasure of reuniting (What else are reunions for?) with a long-lost friend and meeting her fiancée for the first time. I talked with him about music—it turned out we both sing, and the same voice part in choirs, no less. I learned he has a master’s degree in voice and performs with several Boston-area choirs. I was delighted and a little envious: I’ve sung for years, with a few professional gigs here and there, and often wish I had more time to pursue it.

I found out later, though, that this new friend was doing something unexpected with his advanced degree in music: He works in administration for a major scientific research institute, handling scheduling and other behind-the-scenes stuff. How non-musical can you get!?

I had to find out what got him onto that path. When I asked, he told me that, in applying for full-time, non-singing gigs, he stressed his ability to work independently, while also being able to work well in a group setting. “Traits like being organized, thoughtful, self-sufficient, and able to multi-task and prioritize are essential skills to manage a career in music and these translate well to any line of work,” he said.

When planning your career, examine your background thoroughly for these skills. Even if you’ve developed them in obscure or unusual ways—marketing and selling your own artwork, for example, or studying martial arts—these essential skills are applicable in industries of all kinds.

One last thing: my friend mentioned that there are quite a few musicians on staff at the scientific research institute —all doing things other than singing or playing, of course. “With all the left brain thinking that happens in the business world, a balance of a more right-brained approach can be a valuable addition,” he said. Through informational interviews or through other networking approaches, you might find companies with a similarly unusual wrinkle.

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