Learning About Careers, One Video at a Time: An Interview with Shatterbox Founder Amanda Holt
By Lindsey Pollak
With all the disheartening news lately about a double-dip recession and consistently high unemployment, many job seekers are desperate for new career ideas. One great place to seek inspiration is shatterbox, a video-based social community for students and young professionals to find inspiration and share ideas about innovative careers. The site is completely free and is conveniently searchable by industries or keywords.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with shatterbox founder Amanda Holt about why she created the site and how it can help young job seekers.
Q: What is shatterbox and how did you get the idea to start this business?
A. I like to call shatterbox an "inspiration engine" for young people hungry for passionate careers. It's a video showcase, a social network and a resource blog full of stories, advice and dialogue centered on the idea of finding your place in the career jungle.
The idea for shatterbox was twirling in my brain in some shape or form since college when the daunting task of finding a job became imminent. My friends and peers lined up for corporate consulting and banking interviews and I wondered two things. First, how they knew what they were doing, and second, what was supposed to be my "thing."
After two unfulfilling, entry-level work experiences, I felt back at square one and came up with a new approach to finding that "thing." I took people out to lunch — people who were fascinating, young, passionate professionals who'd managed what seemed impossible: They found jobs or started companies they loved. I learned so much about different paths towards career satisfaction that I wanted to capture them and share them.
So, I began filming interviews with these people, creating short video stories and finally built a platform for inspiring students and post-grads to chase their passions and strengths.
Q. The people you profile are very passionate about their careers. What is your best advice to young people who aren't sure what they're passionate about?
A. Own something. By that I mean, even if you're a student or you're uninspired by your job, start a club, blog or a meet-up based on something that is yours and makes you feel good.
For instance, the girls behind "Big Girls, Small Kitchen" stumbled upon a food blogging and book writing career after spending their out-of-work hours blogging about what they loved: food and entertaining. The guys who built Compass Partners simply wanted a network of support for undergraduate entrepreneurs and took that need into their own hands. They created a launch pad for young social entrepreneurs.
You're bound to produce innovative, interesting things when you're simply enjoying yourself. Maybe it'll always be a modest hobby, but I constantly come across stories of exciting side projects leading to a passionate discovery and new businesses.
Q. Since you have a website full of inspiring career stories, what are some of the themes you've noticed in those stories of what it takes to be happy in one's career?
A: Theme 1: Time flies. Loving your job or being a passionate entrepreneur doesn't mean ideas, deals and money will fly in the windows. It tends to inspire you to spend your days (and often nights) engaged and motivated to produce. There may be grinding days and exhausted nights. However, generally happy professionals I've met reflect on their days with the age-old mantra, "Time flies when you're having fun." Be willing to give the hours and those hours will give back to you.
Theme 2: Making a mark. The people who inspire me most are those who are inspired to make a difference. Whether it's a musician touching people through songwriting, a tech entrepreneur building software to help us manage finances or a non-profit worker committing to end childhood hunger, the happiest professionals I know see a direct relationship between their work and changing the world in even the tiniest way.
Q. Why do you think it's so important to expose recent grads and young professionals to the career stories of others?
A. Because no one should feel blind. I felt blind when I graduated from college. Even after a summer of internships and informational interviews, I still didn't have an understanding of the opportunities out there for me.
Witnessing and relating to someone's story and understanding their struggles, fears, triumphs and choices are essential. It’s helpful to know that everyone goes through the rollercoaster in a different way. I discovered that visualizing what a successful and happy future can look like is really empowering. Putting a face and a story to what was once a three-sentence job description can make all the difference.