In Autumn 2017, I was lucky enough to get myself on the Catalyst programme — a 10-day experience helping people get into the creative and digital industries in Liverpool.
1) People really want to help you
Each week I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people involved in the programme. All of the companies and individuals who came in to talk to us (or invited us into their studios!) gave up with their time FOR FREE because they believed in the initiative and perhaps remembered what it was like being in our position. Everyone was so open and willing to answer all our questions; no topic was out of bounds and if they knew a way or a contact that would help us achieve our goals they shared it.
I think I had just expected a much more formal transactional based experience going into this. I had built up this idea that people in these industries would be very clique and that I’d feel intimidated coming into the space but that couldn’t be further from the truth, at the end of the day, they’re just normal people!
2) Networking might be scary but the rewards are INCREDIBLE
I’ve challenged myself in the last year to attend more and more networking events, particularly in areas that I know very little about. (Definitely going for the ‘exposure therapy’ approach.) What I’ve come to realise is the scale of the potential opportunities everytime you walk into a room of strangers.
I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of an event and not been buzzing with excitement over who I’ve just met. Call it fate, destiny, serendipity… whatever, but it is weird, I always end up talking to someone who is somehow related to something I’m either working on, learning about or interested in.
My top tip is to go in and just smile and chat to anyone and everything with no expectations and don’t be quick to judge the people around you (I have met people who ask you very direct questions and you can tell they are trying to calculate in 60 seconds if they have any ‘use’ for you — not cool!). If you go in with a positive and open mindset, conversations just flow and that’s when the exciting bit happens!
I got my first job offer the other day off the back of networking and it felt amazing knowing that that would never have happened if *I* hadn’t put myself out there.
3) You can work for a company that cares
For a long time I thought I was being unrealistic about what I wanted from my next company and role. After working for a large corporation driven by profitability I knew I needed something different. During Catalyst, we met a huge variety of businesses, but the ones that really stood out for me were the ones who are driven by the desire to shape the future and working on projects that actually help people.
I think this was one of my biggest lessons; not just understanding my driving why in life and work, but that there are businesses out there who have the same core values. They don’t compromise with the type of work or businesses they deal with, and neither should I.
4) Start now
It gets said a lot but I think it’s something we all need to hear on a regular basis. So many of the more personal stories we heard from people either about businesses they started or career changes they made showed that everyone has those doubts and narratives they tell themselves which could stop them from making those leaps but they did it. They took those leaps and started!
5) Forget big, dream bloody MASSIVE
I think from just being around Robyn Dooley, Founder of OH, you realise that anything is possible. Robyn is amazing at showing you what is possible if you understand what your driving why is. She is a truly inspiring person, I think if all we did was hang out with Robyn for 10 days we’d all have been better off. Instead, we got to spend this time with all of the people in the local area that Robyn herself is inspired by and builds off. I feel truly privileged to have had this opportunity.
Towards the end of the programme, Robyn led us on an exercise to picture what we want our lives to look like in 10 years based on Debbie Millman’s work. I’d done similar exercises before, but this time I wrote things that surprised me. I don’t think I’d realised how much my vision for my future had changed during the course. I was optimistic, decisive and ambitious.
So I think the most powerful lesson I learned in these 10 weeks was to dream big and to believe in yourself… and it worked, I do!
I’ll leave you with the quote from Dr. Seuss which I think is the adopted motto for Catalyst…
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
This was originally posted on Amy’s blog which you can follow here.