Modern Day Jack-Of-All-Trades

work and coffeeLast week, I attended a four-day, annual, national student journalism conference called NASH 77 hosted by the Canadian University Press and the University of Ottawa’s The Fulcrum, in the glowing heart of the country.

Throughout the plethora of skill-building workshops, inspiring keynotes (CBC’s Peter Mansbridge and CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme), fascinating roundtables, inevitable networking, fancy dinners and social events, there was one recurring theme that stood out to me most: in this day and age, you need to have the whole package.

Assuming most of the delegates at the conference want to pursue a career in journalism, whether it’s television broadcasting, radio, reporting, photojournalism, news writing or editing. Journalism is not in my interests. Although I’m completing my undergraduate degree in Business Communication and my career goals vary from social media marketing to corporate communications to writing for a fashion magazine — all of these fields are often quite parallel and go hand-in-hand.

After endless hours on Monster, Workopolis and LinkedIn, it’s no question that most employers are looking for candidates who possess excellent communication, organizational and time management skills, team player qualities, an unstoppable work ethic, and most importantly, the infinite desire and hunger to learn.

These are all interpersonal skills that they don’t necessarily teach you in school, making it even more imperative to let the workplace become your classroom. A student with high grades but doesn’t have a day of work experience or a job-to-job surfer who doesn’t know how to think critically will not succeed or flourish in today’s competitive, intimidating, and dog-eat-dog work environment.

entrepreneur-593361_1280Because technology has become so advanced and is growing exponentially, job duties and requirements have become interwoven. It’s quite common that an entry-level position or a new intern in the media, communications or marketing industry may be expected to know how to meticulously write and edit, take photographs, use Photoshop, create multimedia presentations, handle clients and projects, manage social media accounts, use code and programming languages to design and maintain a website on a content management system… all while taking coffee orders.

“As technology becomes a commodity with the democratization of information, it’s the big-picture generalists who will predict, innovate, and rise to power fastest.” Tim Ferriss (author of The Four ­Hour Work Week and one of my favourite self-help books!)

Meet the modern day Jack-of-all-trades. To be the best in the business, you have to know (and do) it all. This may sound exhausting and overwhelming, but it’s actually a very liberating concept — the more you know, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more opportunities will come your way.

As most students are looking to enter the workforce soon, whether it’s post graduation, an internship, summer employment, or a placement to gain more experience, this concept is relevant and applies to all — whether your area of expertise is accounting, advertising, health sciences or PR.

After attending some very valuable workshops, most notably Social Media Strategies with Huffington Post’s Ron Nurwisah, Advanced Social Media and Intro to Code with CBC’s developer William Wolfe-Wylie, and The Art of Telling a Story Visually and Photography Editing with The Globe and Mail’s John Lehmann, all of which I can directly apply to my current jobs, I realized that even though I may never have to use Python programming language in the future, or advanced API to pinpoint an Instagram picture to its exact GPS coordinates (however, very cool!), it doesn’t hurt to learn.

I was fortunate enough to be part of an event where I grasped an immense amount of applicable new skills, networked with people outside of my field and simply became inspired — something that anyone can be mindful of in any situation they find themselves in.

So absorb all that you can, while you can. Meet as many people as possible and learn from them. Everyone you meet in life is there to teach you a lesson. Travel. Learn a new language. Take a class you’d never thought of taking. Above all, broaden your professional horizons.

Sozanny Chea– Sozanny Chea
Executive Office Administration ‘12
Follow @SozannyChea

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