How an e-mail scored me another travel gig

Excited in China

Excited in China

I've been vague for months about what I do now. This is the long-alluded-to explanation of my new employment and how I got it.

In this evolving career of mine, I've taken many different tactics to attracting and pursuing jobs. I've 'dressed for the job I wanted' by creating the content I like to make, hoping those who need that work get wind of mine. Years of shooting resumes and cover letters into the online abyss that is an HR email account has never wielded the results most Baby Boomers seem to believe in adamantly. That act feels like tweeting to zero followers, "I'm awesome! You know you want this, and you CAN get this!"

But for me, nothing proves more fruitful than re-engaging in this multi-faceted industry. I like travel, media, the digital realm, education, art, and a unique combination of all. While my involuntary immersion practices don't allow for fully connected 'field' time with my peers, it's in those months between travels that I reemerge a human with new ideas and the ability to answer e-mails. And on this particular instance, I truly realized how few degrees are in between me and something I would love - the same goes for you, too, I'm sure.

We are always a few friends and clicks away from a fantastic gig, apartment, love interest, and/or Kevin Bacon.

Flowers of Luang Prabang, Laos

Flowers of Luang Prabang, Laos

Searching for the Next Travel Media Gig

Off of Thailand and onto the next endeavor, I was looking to tune my favored creative voices, namely writing, photography, and editing. I self-taught some cool effects, showed my portfolio to an art magazine, and wrapped my mind around different trajectories for my career. I e-mailed friends who run in these same circles, informing them that I was, more than ever, flypaper for new opportunities.

Though I guess this could be true for any office worker, my title from job to job can completely change, making it hard to search for listings that would appeal to me. And this time around, the search word that applied was 'videographer', even though that description is painfully simplistic for what the job entailed. I e-mailed a co-worker who, when she received notice of this position without an owner, thought of me; something that involved the documentation of students in a transformative, mind-expanding, globe-trotting program quite commonly referred to as a 'school'.

Don't chuck this immediate connection to a perfect work fit up to just luck or timing (generally you should avoid upchucking altogether). I believe there was a lot more at play here. Again, the lesson seems to be dress for the job you want, not the job listings you would settle for.

Why I went to China

Thus far, I've explained that I visited a school in China in June. Let me tell you about this 'school'.

Our school bus is an Airbus. THINK Global School

Our school bus is an Airbus. THINK Global School

Name: THINK Global School Description: a high school that reaches 12 countries in 12 trimesters Company status: USA non-profit 'Doors' opened: September 2010 Grades: 9 & 10 for the 2011-2012 academic year, 4 levels in 2013 Class average: 15 students Student demographic: curious and open-minded 14 & 15 year-old international students from all walks of life

I'm using 'quotes' on school and doors, because this is beyond most people's concept of a school. This also isn't a brick-and-mortar school, so the only doors these students see daily are those of whatever host city accommodations they occupy. Just knowing about this program and witnessing it for a short period of time, I've come to reconsider everything I've ever learned about formal education. That's a powerful effect and something that frankly shocked me.

Every school year, these students from countries like Bhutan, Kurdistan, USA, and Aruba travel to three countries and base themselves in one city per trimester while engaging in the entire nation and its offerings. I got an invitation to China in order to document one of their cultural and historical trips, this one through the Yunnan province. They took part in traditional cooking, learned a disappearing language, danced with a Tibetan family, and conquered a 25 km hike through Tiger Leaping Gorge. I got the great privilege of filming and photographing all of these moments.

Linden Centre in Dali, China. Photography by Joann McPike. Edited by Lindsay Clark. © TGS-THINK Global School, 2011.

And from that two-week trip, I realized the school had an intense need for media beyond just documentation. The fact that not all students are native English speakers at this English instruction school makes media is an obvious solution to so many approaches in their avant-garde learning environment.

On August 1st, I became the Media Specialist for THINK Global School and will leave at the end of the month to live and travel throughout Ecuador for three months, after which we will migrate to Thailand and Germany. It will be more than documentation but engaging the students in their own creation of digital arts by teaching a class once a week. The school's online property will be ever-bubbling with content from myself, the students, the faculty and staff, all covering the way the world is teaching us.

Here's an excellent video on the school's concept (not created by me...jealous!).

E-mails aligned, not stars

It pays to be open to any path, communicative with those you admire/relate to, and always display your integrity in work and life, so your network knows to think of you in the future. Trips happen fast. 'Gigs' fly in and out of reach based on the tiniest factors. ads probably won't result in your next unconventional job, but e-mailing those who do incredible things will bring you into their orbital ring of the incredible as well.

Especially in industries so small and interconnected, acting with integrity in what you do means everything for your future. I stand by every video I produce, every photograph I publish, the written prose I deliver to the populous digiverse; my most recent work always needing to be more inspired and evolved beyond its predecessors. Anyone can see my succession of digital work from past to present and know what steps I took to improve myself.

This time around, I get the great fortune of collaborating with not just the staff but the students from THINK Global School to create content that encapsulates their learning experience in ways I've never tried before. This will be my biggest challenge yet - and one I will further delve into with later postings.

The opinions stated in this post are mine and do not reflect the positions, strategies, or opinions of THINK Global School.