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Blog: Career Development

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Since I stopped having an actual JOB I appear to have WORKED more than I have ever done before in my entire life. Last week though I went one step further and did something I almost NEVER did in my 20+ years of Actually Having A Job: CAREER DEVELOPMENT!

The first part of the TRAINING SCHEME that my employer (me) had sent me on happened on Thursday afternoon, after (another) very good meeting with Mr J Dredge about STUFF. I wandered over to The Phoenix Theatre Artists' Club for a Writers' Guild Of Great Britain night for new members, where got given name badges and did NETWORKING. When I signed myself up for it I was TERRIFIED, but since doing a whole weekend of talking to strangers at the Screenwriters' Festival I found it all to be FINE, and spoke to some very nice people indeed. I even got some INFO - apparently there's another topical sketch show, in Brighton, that you can send sketches to, so we'll have to get ON that.

Next morning I got up at RIDICULOUS o'clock to go and Sign On again, although it turned out that it was just a "catch-up". I told my nice signing on lady all about the Edinburgh Fringe and she very politely listened, then suggested I might be eligible for the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme. As far as I can gather this is the same as the old Enterprise Allowance Scheme except a) it's new b) but it'll soon be abolished, so I need to get in quick. The other thing I know about it is that BANDS used to all be on it in the 1980s, so I am confident that this time next year I shall be forming OASIS.

That done I headed back into London Town to attend a day long course called "Finance For Freelancers". Having been on PAYE for my whole working life the very idea of TAX fills me with UTTER DREAD so I thought I'd have another go at doing a course about it, having been on a RUBBISH one a couple of years ago. As I approached Equity HQ, where the course was taking place, I considered just GOING HOME, and convinced myself that I could probably do the first session then leave before lunch. It's weird - i KNOW that this is something I want to do and have booked myself, but two decades of a JOB have drummed it into me that any kind of training day is a CHORE to be got out of as quickly as possible!

I'm glad I DIDN'T flee though, as it was GRATE. It was run by David Thomas who I would highly recommend to ANYONE as he was BRILLIANT. Between 10:30am and 4:30pm he told us, as far as I can tell, THE LOT. Tax! VAT! Invoicing! Chasing invoices! Business plans! Sole Traders and Limited Companies! At the grand old age of 44 I feel like i FINALLY understand what on earth all that stuff is about, and indeed feel quite INSPIRED to actually BE freelance - or, to be more exact, a self-employed sole trader. My BRANE was throbbing with all the new FACTS which, several days later, it is STILL working through.

As well as being inspiring and informative he was also a GRATE example of How To Deal With Troublemakers. As ever on this sort of course there was one person who didn't quite understand how it all worked - in this case one of those people who are SO POSH that they can't sit properly or change the volume of their speech. Every time he made a Good Point, when the rest of us would smile, nod, or murmur "Hmm!" she would go "WOW! Really? That's DISGRACEFUL/AMAZING/APPALLING" and then two minutes later ask a question that he'd JUST answered, or give an example from her own WEIRD life, or just SAY something. I personally wanted to leap across the table and lead a ruthless mob of killers, but he remained calm throughout, answering questions politely where he was able and otherwise firmly, but always politely, just saying "No." It was an example of How To Do It that i hope to recall next time I am faced with a Difficult Audience Member.

Best of all, however, was shortly after the course had finished when I met up with The Carriages In My Train to head out of town to see some PALS. On the way I told her all about what I had learnt, and every time she said (for instance) "Did he mention invoicing?" or "when DOES a company have to register for VAT?" i totally knew the answer. Obviously NOW most of the information is evaporating out of my MIND, but he also gave us HANDOUTS!

It was a great couple of days full of ADVANCEMENT. It's beginning to feel like I could DO this!

posted 17/11/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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Mark, you're hysterical! Gave me a good laugh...I'm currently on the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme. Hope all goes well.
posted 17/11/2014 by Moina McInnis

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