7 Easy (and Affordable) Steps for Developing Your Arts Career

Posted by: Lindsey Hardegree on Aug 30 2010 / Comments (0)

Large corporations pride themselves on professional development programs that will create the “leaders of tomorrow.” But when you work at a small nonprofit or are your own boss (like many artists and performers), a robust schedule of seminars and training sessions is simply not at your disposal. Or is it? Here are some easy and affordable ways to create your own professional development program for your arts career!

  1. Write a personal mission statement. The first step to any development process is to determine the goal of the development, and your professional development should be no different.  A personal mission statement will give you a sense of direction and something to work towards.  wikiHow offers some quick tips on how to write your personal mission statement.
  2. Find a mentor. When you read over your personal mission statement, who do you know that’s already achieved that which you seek?  Is it a co-worker?  A veteran local artist?  A professor?  A friend?  Pick someone that you want to learn from, and then ask!  It can even be someone who is only a few steps further along than you are in their professional journey.  And if you know of more than one person that you’d like to learn from, there’s no rule that says you can only have one mentor.
  3. Educate yourself. One of the benefits of corporate professional development programs is the training they offer.  But we live in a world that runs on information that flows freely in this thing called the Internet.  It’s great!  So some searching around online for your interest area and see what comes up.  Blogs are a great source for information, and there are many bloggers in the nonprofit management realm who offer webinars (some free, some inexpensive) where you can learn even more.  By educating yourself you are making yourself a more valuable employee and an expert-in-training.  A few that I personally have used include:
  4. Make connections online. Use social media as a professional development tool!  Don’t just follow your friends Twitter and talk about your weekend on Facebook – make connections with your college professors, your co-workers, and people you admire in your field.  Did you really enjoy that show you saw on Friday night?  Tweet about it, and send the director a message on Facebook.  Find ways to connect your personal and your professional life through social media.
  5. Get involved. If your local foundation center is offering a networking workshop, attend and ask questions.  If there’s an opening night party, go and talk to people you don’t know.  When an organization you admire is looking for volunteers, sign up and get to know the people who work there.  By making yourself a visible part of your local community, you’ll be building a reputation for yourself as a dedicated, hard-working professional.
  6. Present yourself well. As you build relationships offline and make connections online, people will begin to pay attention to you.  They may Google your name to see what shows you’ve worked on recently or where your work has been featured.  It’s vitally important that they see good things when they pull up the search results!  Creating a professional website to act as your online resume is not expensive. (Check out my “Get Your Name Online” Branding Package!)
  7. Don’t be afraid to change your mind. As you go through this process, you may find that what you thought you wanted isn’t really right at all!  Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from doing the right thing for yourself.  If you feel like you’re headed down the wrong path, reevaluate your personal mission statement – does it still accurately reflect your goals?  Talk with your mentor – you may be hitting a minor road bump, or it may be time to change course.

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