It’s difficult for a young person so consider themselves a ‘professional’ or ‘expert’ in any field, though those words are what comes up when one searches for ‘consultant’ on Google (i.e. ‘giving expert advice to other professionals,’ among other definitions). Like any other job, it sounds tiresome and intimidating, and not worth anyone’s time. It makes one believe it requires both a specialised degree and plenty of very specific work experience in another tiresome and intimidating field.
Work experience is also a confusing, as well as an elusive, term. As students, we know we need it, but when we try to get it then most places we apply to expect us to already have some of it – or lots of it – as if we could gather experience in our sleep, through the she sheer force of specificity and specialisation of our subconscious.
Imagen, which counts as work experience and consulting, can be a breath of fresh air in that regard, as it requires no more than a willingness to share one’s opinion. A 16-25-year-old consultant fills out a form with their insights, knowing that they may or may not get paid for it – depending on the quality of their and others’ answers – but even if they don’t, they can always come back and try again once another opportunity arises. This is not a test one ultimately passes or fails. There is no risk of getting fired if one’s insights are not always chosen; which means it can become a place for experimentation (with the articulation of one’s thoughts, for example) and also a rather low-risk job.
Being a student should be a period of experimentation, after all, not only in terms of personal life, but the professional one as well. How can we know what we’re good at and what we enjoy if we never get the taste of it? There are so many work experiences out there in a plethora of fields, and we can never try out all of them, but Imagen’s appeal lies in its freelance nature: we can work for the company without worrying about not having time for other endeavours. We can still grow and gain experience, without a binding commitment towards that particular path.
The ongoing coronavirus lockdown has also changed the way we work, and it might affect its future indefinitely. More and more people are working from home, but various student internships and work experiences have been cancelled due to the pandemic. In this scenario, working for Imagen hasn’t changed, since all it takes to share one’s opinions is a computer and clarity of mind. It is particularly appealing to those of us who are more introverted – since we’re not expected to give an immediate, on-the-spot answer, we can think things through and write them out – but the opportunity to consult gains significance for all of us within the lockdown context, as it becomes difficult to gain other ‘real-world’ experience.
Consulting is just as clear and versatile as any other job, once one truly discovers what it can be about. The words ‘professional’ and ‘expert’ are not as binding and stifling as one might think, and they often don’t mean anything at all, not until we manage to look past them and do our best in any workplace—and become those scary professionals and experts along the way.