Very recently I’ve made a big and scary step to going back to paid employment, rather than being a full time freelancer.
There is a lot of rhetoric out there that being self employed is the only way to be happy, the only way to have control over your life. I absolutely believed this, but I haven’t been happy as an arts consultant for quite some time now, not least because there is just not as much work as there was a few years ago, and all my fellow consultants are saying the same thing.
A long time ago I worked in IT, in the marketing and PR side of things to be sure, but there was a part of my job which involved developing and maintaining a website, before CMS systems like WordPress were in place, I had to hard code it all and update using an FTP client!
While I was in my first full time role I applied for IBM’s graduate programme, I had several IBM clients on my rosta at the PR agency. I didn’t get in because I totally messed up my A-Levels. But I had started to do a Maths ALevel before I swapped if for Theatre Studies. How different my life would have been if I hadn’t made that change.
To cut a long story short I have always been interested in IT, but very much on the sidelines. A couple of years ago I got a Raspberry Pi from my husband, I love messing about with a computer without worrying that I was going to break it. I started to learn to code online and loved that too. I realised quite quickly that I was missing a lot of foundational information about computing and IT, and so I started to do a BSc IT & Computing with the Open University.
That was in April last year. I had a plan. I would work on my degree while continuing to do arts freelance stuff as it came long, with the longer term aim of joining a technology company and becoming a software engineer. I started going to my local tech networking event, and helping at a coding workshop for young people. Then I saw a job being advertised at Spektrix, a software development company who provide box office software to the arts sector. I thought this would be a perfect company for me to work for.
And indeed I was right, in the middle of January this year I joined Spektrix. I love it very much, although it is rather jarring to be in an office four days a week, when I have been at home for six years. Becoming a Spektrixer has allowed me to jump my plan forward by severaal years. I’m working as a Support and Training Consultant, our clients are all arts venues, which means that they are lovely! Over time I hope to pick up more of the technical side of things, but right now I am learning an entirely new and large piece of software, which is taking up a lot of brain power.
This is a change in direction for me, I am no longer looking for any arts consultancy or photography work (although I am still taking on freelance writing), but I am focusing in on technology, through my job, degree and personal projects, as well as continuing to love playing and listening to music!