One of my fondest memories from university is the time I was an international tutor for the exchange students who came to Finland. It was a good feeling to be able to help others in my own environment and to learn about other cultures. Through tutoring I met Silvia from Peru.
What is your job title?
There is no regular title for this kind of job. But, I think it should be researcher because that’s exactly what I do: I do extensive research about different topics: performing arts, cultural industries, sociological topics, among others.
Where do you work?
I am a Peruvian independent worker (freelancer) I go around several institutions doing what I know. But, of course, all these institutions have similar profiles: academic – cultural and governmental institutions. I am currently working in a University where I am doing some research about the academic approaches to performing arts. This is a very urgent matter because, here in Peru, there is not much information about theater research, or dance research, so we need to build the foundation of the arts in the academy. (That’s a nice idea, huh?)
How did you get in to the line of work?
I am a contemporary dancer and a sociologist. I spent so many years trying to keep these two paths separated from each other, until I found out that “blending” them was a better idea. Now, I am deeply interested in trying to understand society from artistic products or spectacles. I think there are so much things to be said and to hear from art; but also that art and culture are the main roads to development.
Did you feel lucky landing your job?
Well, I get to do (one way or another) my three favorite things in the world: reading, watching and dancing. I think there is no other way to be happy: I do, think and work for the subject I’m most interested about. But also, I get to meet wonderful people who loves the same things, so I keep on learning about it all the time.
What qualifications are needed?
I suppose that depends on how do you want to work in this field. In my case, I needed to study sociology and performing arts to build a dualistic view about the topic. Also, sociology gave me some tools I did not develop as a dancer or a choreographer, some of those tools are absolutely necessary for my work today: analytical abilities, reading skills, among so many others. On the other hand, being educated as a dancer gave me the opportunity to develop other skills. So it is just a matter of profiles. For doing what I do, yes, it was a blessing to study both careers.
Are you striven by the work you do or your paycheck?
I work in different projects so I do get paycheck, yes, but only for limited time. After a job ends, I have to look for a new job, knowing that all labor conditions may change. (salary, time spent on it, place, everything). I usually find similar jobs when it comes to money (there is a kind of fix salary for freelancers doing what I do) but, unfortunately, we freelancers do not have the certainty of always having a job or a paycheck. That’s not very nice, nonetheless it is very common among the younger workers (at least here in Peru).
Does your work match your expectations?
I think I could say yes, it does. I know I am going to need a higher degree to keep escalating on the salary pyramid; but first I need more experience; so, I am always taking several jobs for gaining that experience. Despite the fact that I have had better and worse jobs, I am lucky enough to feel proud of every job I had and always feel satisfied by them.
Describe a basic day at work. Does it vary day by day?
YES! They vary a lot! First of all, until recently I did not have a place to work so I made every coffee shop and restaurant or library my office. (I even took my own house, but my family was not very happy about me taking over the dinning room with post its and papers). So that makes it a very unstable routine. Now I have an office of my own where I go to work every day and I also do my creative stuff: reading, writing, etc but I still have spontaneous reunions, and meetings in very different places. So I don’t get to do the same everyday, and that is both a blessing and a curse, because you don’t settle in the routine, but you can’t really plan your agenda.
What is the most exciting thing about your work and why?
As I said before I get to see a lot of theater and dance, and that is my passion. Sometimes people invite me to see their plays, and sometimes I am working directly with them. So I watch a lot of art and there is no thing that can beat that 🙂
What do you get asked about your job by friends and family?
HOW MUCH DO YOU EARN?
That’s a classic question, people think freelancers are miserable human beings, specially when it comes to art jobs, but I assure that is not true. Yes, we are sometimes insecure, but we are still happy.
What is the best part of your job?
The feeling I am doing something I like . Nobody is pressuring me to work in something I don’t feel motivated by.
Do you have bad days or moments? Why?
Yes, of course. I rely on my own level of concentration so I have really rough days when I can’t even read a line or produce the minimum. That happens quite frequently so I need to learn how to be more consistent and less lazy. It is hard, but I’m getting there little by little. I still suffer when I have an empty day (a day when I can’t do anything) but I always try to work harder the next day.
Do you have any advice for people considering your line of work?
Push your own limits. This kind of job comes with no pressure from nobody, so it really depends on how much effort do you put on it. The good part is that you are still the owner of your own life so you get to travel whenever you want, and to rest if you need to, because nobody is after you.
Thank you Silvia!