But what do you do during those ten years? Ten years is a long time. Here are some ideas for activities to do while you're practicing your profession.
- Work at a large company. If you can't rise over above your entry level at a big company - you're probably not going to rise on the outside either. Second, find a way to be responsible for a budget. Treat it as your money. People will take notice. Third, at a big company there are a lot of people who are just like you. As you rise through the ranks of your profession so will these colleagues. There's nothing like having a network of people who know you and know what you can do as you move forward.
- Work at a small company. A boutique firm will stretch you. You'll answer phones, get coffee and get caught up in the crazy lives of the owners. The flip side - you'll get to have your thumbprint on every project that comes through the door.
- Do an outside project after hours in your field. True story: While working at AT&T, I partnered with one of my vendors and we created a home video. It did so well that it partially paid for a down payment on our respective first houses. I learned a lot too.
- With every single person you have meaningful contact, get their name, email, address, birthday, kids' names and where they went to school. The more you know about your contacts - the more helpful you can be to them. And vice versa
- Learn enough about the process and craft of what you do so that in a pinch you could do it all. I am a video writer/producer/director. I've also learned how to shoot and edit.
- Create partnerships with people who complement you - not duplicate - what you do.
My first business was with an out of this world editor. After three years we grossed over $1 million in sales.
- Work with the best people you can find. My work is collaborative. My work gets better and better because of the people I choose to partner with (that includes DPs, editors, and graphic artists).
- Be nice. Say "Please" and "Thank You". When you're working for that big company and you start hiring a bevy of freelancers. You never know which of your freelancers will become your partner down the road. And when the job is done, write a note to them congratulating them on what they did.
- Keep learning new things in your field. Easier said then done. But blog reading is a great first step.
- Never miss a deadline and always come in on budget. Trust-building is what your first ten years are all about.