9 perfect jobs for creative generalists

How generalists can find fulfilling creative jobs

@mathildeferroli founder at Woody โ€ข 22 Feb, 2023 โ€ข 13 minutes read โœจ โ€ข
9 perfect jobs for creative generalists

For a few years, I thought I missed something in my professional path because I didn't choose to enter a design school. I then felt bad again, when I pivoted my career and looked for more creative jobs options than recruitment. I scrolled through thousands of product design bootcamps, and still didnโ€™t go ahead with it.

That's when my irrational obsession with creative work started! I'm not a product designer, but I'm much more aligned now than I've ever been.

Today, I run my own product, talk to users, do content marketing, design the illustrations, think about the growth strategy, created the MVP using no-code tools, learned about SEO, grew my site's traffic. Iโ€™m doing things my way, launching ideas from scratch and ultimately running a project of my own.

Paul Graham wrote an article about this that deeply resonated with me :

Working on a project of your own is as different from ordinary work as skating is from walking. It's more fun, but also much more productive. (โ€ฆ) For the skaters, the relationship between work and life would be better represented by a dash than a slash. I wouldn't want to work on anything that I didn't want to take over my life.

My work-life balance is clearly more a dash than a slash indeed, and I love it. I enjoy learning new skills, the autonomy, the freedom, as well as the challenges. At its core, it feels creative.

Jay Clouse, founder of the famous creator podcast Creative Elements, went through a similar journey.

I had this story I would tell myself that I wasn't creative. I couldn't draw, I couldn't paint, and I couldn't design...so surely I wasn't creative.

He challenged himself and wrote a newsletter everyday for a few years before launching Creative Elements podcast and Creator Science community.

So we are not product designers, we didn't go to a design or art school - but we're more creative than ever. I don't think you need to build your own business to become creative. However, if you're like us - generalists - but leaning into the creative world, I believe some jobs, or work paths, actually meet the needs of generalists and provide the freedom they yearn for.

What's a creative generalist ๐Ÿš€

They are rockets let loose on a project.

Creative generalists are so passionate/curious about an industry/area that they're willing to take on the project as if it was their own.

The team that made the original Macintosh were a great example of this phenomenon. People like Burrell Smith and Andy Hertzfeld and Bill Atkinson and Susan Kare were not just following orders. They were not tennis balls hit by Steve Jobs, but rockets let loose by Steve Jobs. There was a lot of collaboration between them, but they all seem to have individually felt the excitement of working on a project of one's own.- Paul Graham

Their purpose is to create their own map, and not follow one. The most exciting creations came out from this type of profile collaborating with specialists. We're talking Pixar, Apple, Disney and of course many others.

However, I don't think we fit into two boxes only, "generalist" or "not generalist" but rather layers in between generalist to specialist. The ideal creative team would be composed of:

  • Creative Generalists: The horizontal skill set, covering the ground, exploring areas/ paths, and initiating ideas from inception to completion.
  • Profession Generalist: In between the horizontal & vertical skill set. You have one main skill/expertise but want to cover much more ground than mastering your craft. For instance, a Product Designer who also wants to do marketing, and build a team.
  • Creative Experts/Specialists: The vertical skill set, you're deep down into one subject, and mastering your craft. One area/ skills/ passion is where they love being and excell at. Example: a 2D illustrator, a back-end developer, a jewelry artist, an animation designer.

What creative generalists need to excel at their jobs ย ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ

  • Space to discover and create, freedom to explore
  • Open-ended role to learn everything there is to know about one area/industry/location
  • Exciting challenge such as building new projects from scratch
  • Opportunity to lead cross-functional projects
  • Freedom to learn new skills and dive deep if needed
  • Ability to spend time doing research
  • โ€œfull-stackโ€ and juggling multiple projects
  • a figure-shit-out attitude and require minimal guidance

Contrary to experts, their value leans more toward industry knowledge (ex. embedded in the gaming industry), or process knowledge (ex. build a team from 0, launching a product and growing it from X to Z) rather than expertise in their craft (ex. design systems, web design, sourcing candidates, etc).

What they're not (ICs vs Managers) ๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™€๏ธ

Letโ€™s not forget that generalists are not automatically managers or team leaders. They can be Independent Contributors (ICs), creating something from zero and then moving on to another project. Maintaining something is not their major strength.

Theyโ€™re good at collaborating, or at least they need to in order to get their project running, they know how to get the right support. However, their energy can actually get depleted when having to maintain something.

I think thatโ€™s one of the reasons why you get so many creative generalists going solo, freelancing, or founding their own projects while outsourcing to freelancers.

9 Perfect Jobs for Generalists ๐ŸŒˆ

So I dissected creative jobs listed on Woody to show you that these "creative & profession generalist" roles do exist. Here are some really good examples, when you read through the description, you see how they match our above criteria.

For Creative Generalists:

  1. Community Growth at Maven: Youโ€™ve been a founder or an early hire on an early-stage team or worked in a role that was ever-changing. You have bold ideas, and the skills to gather what you need to execute a realistic minimum viable project. Ambiguity doesnโ€™t scare you, it excites you as it offers space to discover and create.
  2. Country Lead at Gather: This is a first-of-its-kind role. As the Japan Country Lead, you will be the sole operator in Japan and have full responsibility for this territory. This is an expansive and open-ended role: you will learn everything there is to know about the Japanese market and our customers, serving in aย Full Stack Customer role (user research, sales, onboarding, and account management).
  3. Category Expansion Lead at Polywork: When you get one "feature" to play and expand with in a new market. Polyworkโ€™s opportunity feature connects users with opportunities to work on passion projects outside of their 9-5 jobs. It is currently one of our biggest drivers of retention and we are looking for a senior professional to own and scale the program. 8+ years of experience in strategy, marketing or operations in a consumer tech company or start up. Creative thinking skills and are excited by the challenge of building new programs and campaigns from scratch.
  4. Growth Operations Manager at Convertkit: You'll lead cross-functional projects and drive efficiency across our Growth team by utilizing project management tools and streamlining internal processes. Minimum of 3-5 years of Project Management experience or transferable experience in another field.
  5. Creative Manager at Piggy: We are looking for a Creative Manager who will oversee all phases of the creative development in the company โ€“ from concept ideation to completion. Someone who isnโ€™t afraid of research and who can juggle multiple projects, and manage a team of outsourced freelancers.

For Profession Generalists:

  1. First Product Designer at T2: Weโ€™re hiring our first product designer: someone who is versatile and passionate about building a responsible social media platform. As part of a small team, you will collaborate with the co-founders and help drive what T2 looks and feels like. You should be proficient at converting requirements into practical product features.
  2. HR Generalist at Thirdweb: Weโ€™re a Series A startup in the web3 space thatโ€™s growing fast and weโ€™re looking for an HR generalist to come on board to help us build out our people operations practice.
  3. Developer Advocate at Replit: "As a DA, you're not Sales (we don't sell stuff, heck I don't even know our pricing) and you're not Marketing (leads are not our KPIs). You represent the technology you're advocating to developers and ops folks and your credibility comes from the fact that you're hands-on with it on a daily basis, with the goal to make people successful with the respective technology."
  4. Product Marketing at Figma: Figma is looking for a โ€œfull-stackโ€ Product Marketing Manager to support Figmaโ€™s platform and partner ecosystem. You will work closely with the partners building on Figmaโ€™s platform as well as our product, sales, design, and broader marketing teams to build, launch, and drive adoption of Figmaโ€™s platform and growing ecosystem of integrations.

To sum this up, "Youโ€™ve got a figure-shit-out attitude and require minimal guidance."

How to find a job as a creative generalist?

Besides scrolling on Woody Jobs, you absolutely need to attract this job to you, as itโ€™s so personally intertwined with your personal interests, strenghts, obsessions and skills.

One framework is my go-to recipe to find this kind of job as a creative generalist.

  • Defineย my favorite problemsย (give myself a direction)
  • Buildย my source of truthย (understand who are the players)
  • Start doing and make connectionsย in the right space (become a player)
  • Leverage these connections to land a job, client or project (get noticed)

So, are you a generalist too?

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