When searching for an interview subject, I wanted to choose a person with experience relevant to my desired career so that I could gain meaningful insight into that field of work. With this information, I can start developing my own professional values in preparation for transitioning from my university to full-time work. Mel works in the live music industry as a freelance manager for creative projects. I am passionate about Wollongong’s local creative arts scene. My long-term partner is a musician, plus I have many friends and family members are also keenly involved in live music. Mel’s job combines this field of interest with an array of digital media and marketing skills that are relevant to my studies, meaning she was a perfect candidate for this interview. Mel and I connected through a mutual friend whose band she is currently managing as one of her clients.
I prepared a list of four questions for Mel. Firstly, I asked her about her professional journey so far including her qualifications, training and previous work experience. Next, I asked Mel to share a key learning moment in her career, followed by a time she dealt with disruption in the workplace. Finally, I asked Mel for some insight into the future of work as it relates to her industry. When approaching Mel with my questions, I explained to her where and how her responses would be used and encouraged her to give detailed, narrative-focused answers for each question.
Once I had Mel’s answers, I used narrative listening techniques based on Michael White’s practices to try and uncover any implied professional values she may have gained from each recounted experience. I utilised the double listening method to determine Mel’s preferred experience of confidence, assertiveness, and control over her professional boundaries. This indicated that Mel values her autonomy as a freelancer and strives for confidence in her own abilities.
If we listen closely as people describe their problems, using what Michael has called ‘double listening’ (listening for the ground as well as the figure) we can hear the implications of the preferred, valued experiences that are the contrasting background for the present problematic and less valued experiences.Jill Freedman, ‘Explorations of the absent but implicit’
I also approached Mel’s second story about disruption from the perspective of an outsider witness. I listened carefully to her experience and focused on what this recount told me about Mel from my third-party perspective. I determined that Mel cares about maintaining a level of professionalism with her clients and separating her role as a friend from her role in management.
Within narrative practice, an outsider witness is an invited audience to a therapy conversation – a third party who is invited to listen to and acknowledge the preferred stories and identity claims of the person consulting the therapist.Maggie Carey & Shona Russell, ‘Outsider-witness practices: some answers to
commonly asked questions’
Interviewing Mel has inspired me to consider freelance work a viable option for the future of my own career, as the autonomy of being your own boss seems very appealing. When asked about the future of her industry, Mel noted the importance of digital and social media platforms in finding creative solutions to obstacles in live music. I believe that digital media and marketing is an area of work well-suited to freelance work, as the workplace is fluid and not tied down to physical space or limitations. In the face of the recent global pandemic, businesses will now more than ever want to be moving some aspects of their operation online and into digitised forms.