I’ve been writing HTML by hand and building websites since I was twelve – fifteen years, more than half my life. I’ve been programming since I was sixteen, again, nearly half my life. I’ve been blogging for more than eleven years, studying internet culture for somewhere around eight, and administering websites for the last seven.
I’ve been an internet marketer for three months. What do these things have in common? Transferrable skill.
Marketing is more than just snappy ads and writing copy. There’s a tracking aspect that doesn’t get enough credit, a necessity to know a space thoroughly enough to navigate any trouble that comes your way – just as there are in so many other fields. And I keep running into situations, especially doing SEO, where my knowledge of code and structure has proven valuable. I’m aware that sounds incredibly self-agrandizing, but consider this.
Knowledge of code in many forms is easily transferrable to internet marketing, the same way knowledge of building materials is transferrable to architecture. Designing any structure – whether it’s a website infrastructure or the framing of a building – benefits immensely from a studious approach to knowledge of your materials. Associated knowledge empowers you in a way few other personal or professional developments do, by lending perspective to your work.
Transferrable skill is not universal. Knowing a lot about dance isn’t going to help an architect. However, you’d be surprised what can be transferred – from a history of, say, retail one might take an intense knowledge of people and human behaviour and become a stellar salesperson, or get a psychology degree and use the unique perspective from behind the counter to help others understand mass behaviour. A history in accounting may be just what someone needs to tackle building a business from scratch – patience and tenacity.
Meaningful work comes in many forms. We don’t live in a culture where we are encouraged from any direction to have College graduation-to-retirement loyalty to a position, company or even field any longer. If the market, the culture, and your family and friends expect and accept that you’re liable to jump jobs every five or ten years, one of the best things you can do to serve yourself is develop not only a wide range of skills, but a widely usable range of skills.
Just as there’s a difference between being known and being knoweable, there’s a gap between being skilled, and having applicable skill.