How applying to a new job landed me the right job

A few weeks ago, I found a posting for a new job that interested me.

37signals, the software company behind Basecamp, was looking for a video-centric creative to produce educational content for their customers. But, they didn’t want just anyone familiar with video tutorials. They wanted a collaborative storyteller ready to develop video content ideas beyond what the company was currently envisioning. The ideal candidate would be ready to work independently - a one-man band, at least at first.

The job title was Visual Storyteller. And the challenge of the position drew my attention.

Now, I should say, applying wasn’t just about getting another producing gig. 37signals is a company I respect. While helping their customers learn their software, if hired, I could selfishly learn from within a company I’ve admired from afar for over a decade.

So, I decided to put myself forward for consideration.

As part of the application process, I’d need to make a video. Just a one-minute video tutorial about one of the company’s products, as evidence of video comprehension and storytelling skill.

Up until then, I had never made a video tutorial. But, I didn’t feel this was reason enough to refrain from applying. Backed up by my writing and production experiences, I thought — why not take the chance.

Application instructions mandated no more than a day’s work on the video (“scout’s honor,” read the brief). So, I spent an hour researching the company’s software to choose a tutorial topic, about two hours drafting a script, an hour adjusting my home studio setup, an hour recording myself, and then an hour producing screen recordings. The remainder of my time was spent tightening the edit down to a minute with music, sound design, and motion graphics.

In the end, I was proud of my 60-second tutorial, all wrapped up inside of a day. I uploaded the video and sent it off for the company to review.

Mission accomplished, I thought.

But, I was feeling something strange I couldn’t put a finger on.

So I stopped. I sat down. And I wrote it out.

I thought about all the equipment I had used. All of it had been purchased more than a year ago, all in the hopes of starting a YouTube Channel. Yet, I had let my day-to-day and the demands of television production distract me. Despite being set up in my apartment, all of the equipment languished. That is, up until this job posting attracted my attention and gave me a reason to power it all up.

Now, having finished the application, I was feeling both happy about the produced video, while disappointed I had not yet advanced my YouTube ambitions.

Sitting with these conflicted feelings, I realized what was bothering me: I’ve been holding myself back.

The success of producing this video application felt like a sledgehammer against a mental block. Whatever had before been preventing me from sitting down to script, produce, and edit with this equipment now felt like it was cracking and crumbling. No longer did the sight of the studio setup instill fear. It now instilled a sense of accomplishment and possibility.

Since the day I realized people were paid to make movies, I’ve been nurturing my own ideas of what to produce and direct. And for the past decade, I’ve spent time accumulating skills through the experiences I’ve had as an editor and producer. Since leaving my last job, I’ve felt something inside me telling me it’s time to let go of whatever safety former jobs have provided.

It's true I found a job post for a position I know I’m capable of fulfilling. However, what I really found was how capable I am of what I truly want to do. All that experience and education can be employed in the service of a company, or it can be employed to achieve my desires...

I want to start my own business, produce my own content, and eventually direct my own films.

I’m happy I applied to a company I deeply respect. And moving forward, I’ll keep an eye on their software and methodology from afar, as I always have.

Because what I need to do is hire myself for the open position right here that I’ve left unfilled for years.

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