Conversational AI: The Job Search
“Where do I find the job that matches my experience?”
Whether you have a background in AI, UX design, content creation, or coding, there are a number of ways to get a foot in the door. However, the question you might be asking yourself now is “Where do I find the job that matches my experience?”
That was the question I found myself asking upon graduating from Ryerson University’s Media Production MA program. With a professional background as a video producer, I decided to return to school to pivot to interactive content. This eventually led me to focus my research on interactive audio narratives for children using a smart speaker.
By the end of the program I had a solid foundation from which to build my new career in voice tech, but exactly where I was going to find those new building blocks to stack on top of (1) my previous experience as a media producer along with (2) my newfound knowledge in conversational design, was still unclear.
So I did what any Millenial/Gen Xer (I fit somewhere in between) would do. I searched online. What I share with you now are some of the discoveries I’ve made in the past year with some examples of where it has led me to presently. I’ll begin with the very thing that has led me to write this particular article: community.
Find Your People
As I was doing my Master’s program, I realized that my research focus was quite unique from my cohort, and that additional support and guidance would be needed to acquire a fuller scope of the new technology I was embracing. When I first discovered the existence of Women In Voice I was both excited to find a community that filled this gap and a slight sense of fear of missing out (FOMO) discovering them a year after its inception. I don’t have to get into how being a member of this community has been so helpful for my professional development — after all, if you’re reading this now, chances are you’ve discovered that for yourself already. However, it’s worth emphasizing that with a community like Women In Voice, there are always opportunities to get real-work experience through job boards and relevant posts from other members.
In what other communities have I found similar support and career prospects? Other voice-tech and general tech related communities such as Voice Tech Global, Voice Lunch, Voiceflow, Cocohub and Tech Teahouse have all taken up welcomed space in my inbox and phone — which means to say that I made sure to sign up for newsletters and social platforms to stay informed and engaged. The last one is key — you get out of the community what you put back in. Introduce yourself, take a leap of faith and reach out to other members, and pipe up when you’ve got something important and relevant to say. After all, it is about voice.
Meet those People
Which leads me to the often overused and sometimes dreaded advice of networking. Ugh — I know, this is coming from someone who personally hates the word, but I can’t think of a better word to use in this context (Meshing? Reciprocating? I welcome suggestions), even though I am a naturally sociable being. The salesy/pitchy vibes that are often associated with networking can be a turn off for some people, so I invite you to try it with a more casual (but still professional) approach that feels more genuine for both you and the person(s) you’re reaching out to. We’re all humans, and on another level we are amazingly special humans with a passion for conversational design, so put that to practice when reaching out to your next soon-to-be acquaintance. And who knows, maybe an actual friendship will form down the line — bonus!
Remember that networking is more than just an email introduction. I got creative with the ways to engage with the various communities of which I was a part. Many community members who are well established in voice tech are more than happy to have a quick chat when they have time available, and utilize tools like Calendly to invite you to set up a date to chat. Yes — a bonafide, face-to-face (albeit over the web) chat that allows you to get yourself out there and learn a thing or two from an expert. Another great way to make new connections is to request demos with start-ups in voice tech. It was through this approach that eventually led me to land a freelance gig that I’m currently doing with a Toronto start-up that builds AI voice.
If you’re feeling a bit hesitant about jumping into the deep end of networking, there are other options in the shallower end of the pool. Along with the job boards available through the different communities previously mentioned, there are plenty of opportunities regularly popping up on LinkedIn or ConversationDesignJobs.com, the latter which is a voice-specific job site created by fellow WiV member Hilary Black. If it feels like a daunting task to sift through all the different job postings and figure out how your interests and skill sets best match up, consider introducing yourself to a job recruiter like Allys Parson, who also focuses on voice-related opportunities, and can help you with the focus of your search and goals.
Finally, I want to have a heart-to-heart with you, dear reader. If at any point while you were reading this article you suddenly felt the effects of imposter syndrome come over you (my symptoms are typically sweaty palms and a craving for chocolate almonds, what’s yours?!), please know that you’re not alone. The world of voice is still very much the wild west, so it can certainly feel at times like the path to success in this constantly evolving industry is unclear. When that feeling creeps up on me, I step back and take stock of everything I’ve accomplished thus far and then review the many reasons I decided to pivot in the direction of voice.
I also consider myself a student for life. It’s the reason I went back to school and even after graduating, continue to build upon my knowledge with online courses offered by Conversation Design Institute, CareerFoundry, and Voice Tech Global. There is still so much to learn and uncover, and I don’t want to miss any of it. And I certainly don’t want to miss the opportunity to make a new connection. So when you’re ready, send me a note and we can eat chocolate almonds together over Zoom.