We're all quick to undervalue ourselves and what we're good at, taking for granted the unique set of skills and characteristics we bring to the world. I thought about this while my son, Johnny, was home for the day Sunday. We were not at all sure where he would find his path after college -- a criminal justice major with no interest in pursuing police work or law, he was looking for almost anything. He's smart and outgoing, and he has a great handshake and a smile that lights up the room. When I mentioned these assets to him he basically said, yeah, like that's going to get me a job somewhere. And yet, in December he was hired as a sales engineer by a firm that represents high tech environmental systems. The owner of the company said, "Johnny, we hired you for your ability to make a great first impression." It's a complex system of personal characteristics, training, and confidence that allows Johnny to reach out confidently to total strangers twice his age. It's a set of skills and qualities he takes for granted ,and yet it is precisely the set of skills and qualities the company wanted in a sales engineer. Don't get me wrong, he still has much to learn about VRFs and DFS and air handling capacity and all the other technical stuff, but the skills he sees as being "nothing really and not that hard, were exactly right.
As knitters and crocheters - in fact all fiber artists, we very much undervalue the importance and value of what we know and do and their application to a broader scope. Knitting and crochet are activities most likely to elicit some comment about one's grandmother, and how it's a lost art etc, but knitting and crochet actually have more in common with computing than canning. Our skills are among the most sought after skills in the technical world. In her Times Union article "Hire a Knitter", Phyllis Alberici reframes knitting and crochet in technical application terms, and it's really quite amazing. Consider these efforts and skills you use all the time:
- Analysis and interpretation of complex information patterns
- Analysis and interpretation of mathematical data and creation of visual schematics of that data
- Recognition of subtlety in visual patterns and coded information
- Ability to identify areas of ambiguity and ask probing questions for subject matter clarity
- Ability to identify and correct errors or inefficiencies in a data model
- Ability to create a project model and data structure for developing transferable knowledge
- Managing and documenting project process and progress
These are all things we do as a matter of course when we read a knitting or crochet pattern, create or interpret a schematic, or post project and process details to Ravelry. Think about how we work our way through the dreaded set of instructions that begin, "at the same time." Like that isn't technically challenging guidance in need of a creative solution! Don't undervalue your skills - they're important.
If you're still in the throes of your work life, try tossing some of these skills on your resume and see what happens. Stay-at-home mom? This is how you maintain your edge when diapers, naptime, and finger-painting fill your days. Retired? It's a way to keep your brain as sharp as when you were working. And if someone argues with you on this, remember that you have a pointy stick in your hand.
I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table. You are always welcome here.