“Urgent! You Need to Show Your Work!”

Ben HeinsBen Heins – Coordinator, Internships and Service Learning – USF Sarasota-Manatee

Early in my time at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Career Services, it was revealed that I studied, read, and wrote poetry fairly extensively ever since I was in my early twenties. My then-supervisor bought me a very thoughtful gift soon thereafter: a book that grounded many work-related philosophies I held and taught me several new ones that I practice every day. Unbeknownst to her, that book – Show Your Work by Austin Kleon – was written by a poet who taught me the craft of erasure, one of my favorite poetic styles. It was one of life’s full-circle moments that made a deep impact on me as a professional and as a person.

In Kleon’s book – a follow-up to his bestselling Steal Like an Artist – the goal is to work in 10 new “ways of operating” to more effectively tell your story. When applied to the work we do as practitioners of career services, Kleon’s suggestions help prioritize and publicize data collecting, which in turn amplifies our narrative without losing the human, collaborative element. In each of the 10 sections, he keeps the language approachable and easy to internalize. Let’s check out the chapters:

  1. You Don’t Have to Be a Genius
  2. Think Process, Not Product
  3. Share Something Small Every Day
  4. Open up Your Cabinet of Curiosities
  5. Tell Good Stories
  6. Teach What You Know
  7. Don’t Turn into Human Spam
  8. Learn to Take a Punch
  9. Sell Out
  10. Stick Around

Each of these 10 parts have excellent, pertinent strategies we all can use. Little nuggets abound – some more relevant than others, depending on what speaks to you. For example, every day, I still seek touch points with my “scenius” – a scene of like-minded individuals whose collective of ideas is greater than any single member’s; an “ecology of talent,” as Kleon puts it, that is critical to forward movement. I take time every day to give credit where credit is due because it leads to stronger relationships and new, fruitful connections. At a low cost, these lessons and many more are available now and can help elevate the quality of our work to a new level.

Alternatively, email me, and I’ll gladly mail you my copy to borrow. (heins@sar.usf.edu)