Sal's Diary: How To Create Your Own Job, at Bath City College

I basically get paid to cook, eat and write (and take gorgeous
 pictures like this one). If I could get sleeping & reading in
there too, there would be nothing left to achieve in my life. 
A couple of weeks ago, Bath City College got in touch to ask if I might be up for giving a lecture as part of their Digital Futures event for the Bath Digital Festival. The Digital Futures day is a chance for students aged between 15 and 19 to find out more about careers in the world of technology – everything from creating the actual tech to using it for stuff like blogging and social media – and frankly, my answer was an immediate yes. I spend my days writing blog content for the websites of independent food companies, with a special focus on developing delicious recipes to show off their products (although I do also write about all sorts of stuff from their ingredients to their backstory). I love my job – properly love it. When everyone got back to work after Christmas and Twitter was full of hashtags about the crippling awfulness of January, I felt like the only person who knew the secret of turning grey, leaden workdays into pure gold. I reckon that more people should feel like this about their jobs, so I was only too happy to pop into Bath City College and try and convince some kids to run away and join the self-employed circus.

For the morning session, I gave two rounds of my talk Blogging: How To Create Your Own Job to GCSE-aged students from various secondary schools around the city, talking about how the job market is undergoing a period of huge expansion and upheaval, making lots of different careers available and making traditional careers available in a whole new way. Then for the afternoon session, I chatted to older students who are currently studying at the College, with the same rough outline but a focus on how they can use blogging and social media to take their hard-earned skills in a new direction, and work for themselves rather than somebody else. For this talk in particular there was a great response, and I ended up talking to some really enthusiastic teenagers afterwards about the possibilities that are out there. When you’re in education, the constant assumption is that you’re working towards being employed by somebody else afterwards – but these days, with freelance working and self-employment on the rise, that doesn’t have to be the case, and sometimes all you need is for somebody to tell you that another way is possible.

Speaking of which, I often get lovely comments on the fact that I’ve been self-employed and running my own business since the age of 24, but in my second afternoon session I met someone who made me feel like a total slacker – a guy who runs his own successful business at the age of just 18. We were both part of a panel for a talk called Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of (yup, definitely applies to mine), and I was pretty fascinated by Solomon’s work for his company Ferox as a hacker – i.e., one of the good guys that hacks into businesses to find out how the bad guys might do it, so that the aforementioned businesses can then close those loopholes. I was pretty inspired by his vision and enthusiasm, and I reckon I wasn’t the only one.

In short, it was an awesome day, and I’m really glad I took part. If you’re reading this because you’re intrigued by my job or simply by the idea of working for yourself, whether you’re a student or not, then please do feel free to get in touch – I’d love to chat and provide any advice I can.