Creative Alchemy: Convert Opportunities into Career Gold

Photo courtesy of Yael Malka

“Creative alchemy is using four key ingredients. Ingredients that you already have,” began Monica Lo, Senior Art Director at kbs+ and Megan Nuttall, Senior Writer at kbs+. It was one of the first times I had heard those words. “Creative Alchemy.” Similar to the alchemy that you may have heard of, this variation also involves combining ingredients to create gold. Not the precious metal, but a different type of gold. A type of gold that can be much more valuable and precious: career gold.


The first ingredient for creative alchemy is relationships. “How we’ve been able to get jobs, it’s all through people. Keep them in your lives and they open more doors for you,” started Megan. It’s all about utilizing the people you know. Make connections, and then maintain those connections. Ask for advice, not jobs. If you go into a conversation looking for advice, you just might stumble into a job. If you go into a conversation asking for a job, you might not get what you’re looking for. Be sure to not only ask for advice, but offer advice. Maintaining relationships is a two-way street.

Connecting with professors has also proven very useful for both Monica and Megan. Having gotten numerous internship opportunities through her professors, Monica shared that it is often helpful to “look at your classes like a job interview.” Your professors are experts in their field. It is also likely that they are still active in their fields. Their network is vast and could help you find many job opportunities. Ask them for advice and keep them in your network. Not only might they be able to help you find a job now, but one day they might also be able to help you fill a job.

Passion Projects

The main theme of the Find and Follow Your Passion conference is the idea of doing what you love (AKA finding your passion). It is therefore appropriate that the second ingredient for creating career gold is your passion projects. These projects are an essential part of creating your own personal brand. It’s a part of who you are. Megan believes that, “when you’re excited about something, it shows through and through.” It was easy to see this when she talked about arts and crafts, one of her passions. When you’re excited about something, other people can tell, and it’s hard to keep that excitement from spreading.

For Monica, passion projects should be “a reason to get out of your pjs.” These are the things that make you want to get up in the morning, the things you care about and love working on. It was just as easy to see Monica’s excitement and passion for all things involving bacon. Whether people are leaving bacon goodies on her desk at work or she herself is planning an “a-pork-alypse” party, everyone around her knows how excited she is about her passion. Your passion projects are the things that set you apart. They’re things that you could talk about for hours.


This brings us to the third ingredient for creating gold: your portfolio. Your portfolio should be more than just your resume. It should showcase the things that you’re most proud of.  Most importantly, who you are should be evident from your portfolio. Therefore, it’s essential that you put your passion projects in your portfolio. Your passions are what you’re most proud of because you’ve put time and effort into something that you enjoy doing. It’s not the projects that you have to do to meet deadlines and that require you to conform to standards, it’s the ones that you truly care about.

Monica and Megan emphasized the fact that, “your portfolio is always a work in progress, and that’s a good thing.” As your career grows, your portfolio expands and contracts. You get rid of some things to make way for the newer projects that you’re proud to showcase. Your portfolio should set you apart and your passions should show through. It should not just be a folder or website filled with your works, but an extension of who you are.


This brings up the fourth and final ingredient for creative alchemy: personality. The same advice your mother gave you when you were a little child still applies. “Try your best and be nice.” As long as you try your best and don’t give up, you will continue to learn from your mistakes. As Megan and Monica put it, “Learn how to fail better.” When you fail at something, what you learn from that failure is the most important part of the experience, not the fact that you failed. If you don’t learn anything, then that is when you fail.

The session ended on a high note with the following advice: “Optimism is your biggest asset.” From Megan and Monica’s enthusiasm and passion, it is easy to see how this last piece of advice fits into their lives. If you stay optimistic and ask lots of questions, your personality will shine through and you’ll be well on your way to career gold. If you embrace your passions and let them show through, the way others perceive your personality will only improve. Whether it’s by sharing your love for bacon or your love for arts and crafts, your personality will shine through as bright as the career gold you are creating.

Are you using the ingredients above to create career gold? Please share with us in the comments.

About the Author

Ian Perry is a senior at Cornell University. He is an aspiring entrepreneur interested in mobile app development. Follow him on Twitter @iperry and read his blog at

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