How I turned my hobby into a career
When you're first starting out, it can be easy to lose sight of what you actually want to do. But, with hard work and perseverance, the ideal balance of personal interests and 9-5 may not be as hard to achieve as you think.
Megan is a freelance drama facilitator who has done just that. She splits her time between three jobs, all based around leading theatre workshop to different age groups, including young people and adults in the Deaf community.
Megan beams about her job: "I always get so excited when I talk about work, I’ll bend your ear off talking about my day." She’s living the dream, right? So how did she get here?
Megan remembers the exact moment she knew the theatre was for her. She was attending a sing-a-long Sound of Music dressed in lederhosen, aged seven. When she took to the stage to collect her award for best costume, she looked out to the audience and immediately felt it: she belonged.
Finding your tribe
The path to employment from here was a winding one, but the so-called universe kept sending her signs. When she was 10, she auditioned for a TV show and was cast in a recurring role on a TV series. "It was then, sat on the catering bus with the cast and crew, I looked around at the grown-ups and realised people actually did this as a job," she says.
At school, Drama and the arts were Megan’s favourite subjects, as she found her dyslexia made exam-based subjects extremely difficult. She thrived in the subjects that she loved. Given her great results, her teachers thought further academic study would be the next logical step for her, but she didn't feel quite the same.
Knowing she preferred practical work, Megan enrolled on a two-year Performing Arts Diploma, and from day one she knew she’d found her tribe: "It was literally like Fame, with kids singing and acting in the corridors!". She received a triple distinction and went on to apply to university, again faced with the choice between offers for a theory-based academic course and a more practical performing arts course at university. She followed her instinct and it paid off.
The right person in the right place at the right time
When Megan returned home from uni, she had a logbook of ideas from creative drama sessions, but no real clue about how to work these into a day job. Then, a chance meeting with a former tutor led to her being introduced to a drama company for young people.
She worked part-time as an usher at the Lyric theatre in Belfast just to be close to the action and people whose professions she aspired to. Over time, she made an impression on the workshop leader at the theatre, who gave her the chance to cut her teeth as an assistant.
Megan recalls helping people devise theatre "felt so natural. I developed a playful, mindful style over time". She discovered that, as she helped others increase their confidence through communication, her own confidence also grew and grew.
Megan is now the lead workshop facilitator. She stepped up into the role because she was the right person in the right place at the right time.
So was it all worth it? Megan says she "definitely worked hard for it, but I never take for granted that now I do something that I really love."
Megan’s top tips to make your hobby pay the bills:
- Work smart. Find what you are good at, and work out how you learn best
- Never give up. Be tenacious and seek out opportunities through the people you meet and job roles you come into contact with
- Be in the space. Immerse yourself in the world you want to be a part of. Stick around and eventually someone will remember you, so be ready to answer when the opportunity knocks.