Passion -> Volunteer -> Job -> ...passion again?


Getting to some kind of financial independence has been really effortless to me. It all started with a passion for programming and design. 
Some years ago I applied and challenged this passion with a self-started volunteer project for my university: a repository for video courses and an online shared calendar. 


Nothing revolutionary but enough to gain confidence and a real-world-work to show: with these credentials I started to look out for people in need of a website, an e-newsletter or almost anything web related.
Now I make a (cheap) living with that while studying architecture.
I'm lucky enough to work for cooperatives and small associations so that I can establish meaningful relationships…even though I don't wanna settle down on this kind of work, it's just not challenging enough.


This kind of job is granting me lots of free time to pursue my interests. 
I'm now working on my first not-(only)-for-school and not-for-a-client project that I hope I'll be able to sell (a career guidance service). 
I don't need any real financial capital to realize it but just some validation from the market.
I'm thinking of using Kickstarter not for the money but for checking if there's a demand for this kind of product. 
But that's another story so thanks for reading and see you around!
P.S. I don't know whether this magic chain from passion to job make sense regardless of the sector or field we're talking about. Probably not.
Maybe this new internet-digital sector is a very exception but still... this is my little experience and all what I can share in all innocence! : )

passion > volunteer > Job > passion again > Jobs ???

Bonjour, excuse-moi pour le français !!!

c’est très intéressant qu’est-ce que vous dites, que ton travail vient de ta patience et que ce travail devient une patience après, la chose qui manque a beaucoup de gens et qui laisse le travail passive.

Etre créative : être compètent dans tel domaine et aussi patient de ce que vous faites.

Mais la chose qui m’a retenue dans ta mission report est que vous ne cherchez pas à grandir ton projet, tu ne veux pas de l’aide, ce n’est pas mieux de développer ton projet ? Comme ça tu vas créer la richesse et tu vas aider les jeunes créatives de découvrir leur compétence.

did I get you right?

Salut Jamel.

My french is a bit elementary so I’m not sure I got what you asked. Did you ask, in the last paragraph: “Why you’re not trying to grow your project, why you’re not looking for aid?”

If so. Before looking for growth I must look for a product-market fit. (I’m a big fan and follower of the lean marketing trend).

And for aid it depends on the kind of aids:

  • financial aid: Well, at this moment I think any financial help would be deleterious. To get financial aid I would need to consume my time and energy writing business plans. And after all it's just a little service... it's not a capital-consuming thing. I just need a warmed space with a WI-FI : )
  • expertise aid: that's what I'm looking for and the reason why I just relocated to a bigger city (Milan) where I've some contacts that are kind of mentoring/tutoring me

A short treatise on innovation by higiacomo

  1. focusing on finance too soon is counterproductive: a lot of time gets wasted in chasing money rather than developing the idea
  2. to get help to develop your ideas, move close to the people you admire.
Very elegantly put. I think most people who have ever tried bootstrapping anything would agree.

Quels sont vos avis !!!

Je suis tout à fait d’accord pour qu’il ne faille pas courir derrière l’argent, tant que le projet est nouveau, mais moi quand j’ai dit il faut chercher des aides c’est juste pour aider le projet (pas forcement beaucoup d’aides qui vont prendre votre temps) vous pouvez trouver des subventions, de petites aides (parce que pour déménager à Milan et pour apporter de l’expérience il vous faut de l’argent).

Finding the magic chain

Hey, Giacomo, thanks for sharing this.

I am from a different generation, and the Internet was not really around in my teens ans early twenties (well, ARPANET technically went live when I was 3, but the social impact was not there). However I can see myself in youir story. In my case it started with local journalism when I was 18, rhen shifted to economic research when I was 22, then again to music at 27… all of my work cycles seems to have been driven by some passion. The passion makes it easier to invest in something, and once you have become good at something it becomes possible to get paid for it.

That’s the theory at least. In practice there is a competition element. Being good at something is not enough to get paid for it: you also have to be better than other practitioners. I would be curious to see what others think too!

the competition element

I don’t know that much about competition, probably because I’m lucky. In my short experience quality is not the determining factor: networking first of all and then integrity and clear ideas are enough to stand out and sell a fair product.

What about architecture?

Hey Giacomo,

So it’s nice that you go through school AND at the same time work AND build meaningful relationships, in your words. Also in my case passion for research did the trick as a student because I took up various projects, in university and with NGOs, committing although there was nothing in it for me; except the passion of working and building relationships. But mostly I was not slacking or sitting and doing nothing until graduation.

Even when you don;t have a career plan, things may turn out well just because at any given time you’re where you want to be and doing what you love.

I have to ask tough, where, in your future plan, does architecture meet your passion for web design? What is it that you’re left with after graduation?

Keep up the good work,


architecture: 5 year ago

Hey Noemy thanks for the question.

You know when I started 5 years ago, fresh from high school, the university was the must-do thing (for my parents etc).

And the most open-ended / creative / you don’t-know-where-you-finish “thing” to study was… architecture. So now I’m a quite a fan of architecture but honestly I don’t think there’s a lack of architects: especially in italy where we have 1 tenth (120’000) of the world architects! 

So to answer your question I guess that after graduation I’m left with some design skills I’ll try to bring to other fields that traditionally are not comfortable assuming: “we don’t know what we’ll get” at the beginning of a project. (e.g. healthcare, education, transportation etc). 

So now I’m trying to bootstrap this career guidance service… also to get some credentials to enter the service design industry. But if this ambitious aspiration fails because, for example,

  • these fields are traditionally (for some good reasons) conservative and cautious...and there's no demand for innovative services
  • or I can't make my way into a service design studio
I will probably try to refugee in some more safe and established industries like architecture, branding, industrial design, (a restaurant? :-).. and think a plan B

Thanks for taking the time to answer! I suspected this regrouping, capitalizing on skills not necessarily nurtured in school, I’ve seen it elsewhere on Edgeryders, but not packed in such a good mood. That’s the attitude my friend!

Keep up the good work and keep us posted, I’m curious what will happen with your career guidance service, and how it looks like - paste a link here when it’s ready please : ).

Maybe thinking along similar lines?

Hi Giacomo, I recently came across  a project by Edgeryders community member Ben Vickers.  He calls it a Professional Reality Development and it’s a kind of peer-powered version of what you’re tryihng to do with a focus on people who are in the arts if I’m not mistaken:

Maybe drop him a hello on his wall?

thanks Nadia!

thank you Nadia. I’ve checked out the wiki and will try to get in touch with Ben.

the magic chain that creates identity

Ciao Giacomo!

Today I’ve read all your missions and I’ve found interesting thoughts and some common views.

I trust in the magic chain that you’ve drawn and I’m going along the same street.

i’m sharing my working life between paid jobs and unpaid projects, often projects that are designed and managed by myself and a little team because I believe that  these type of projects show clearly who I am, what  I’m able to do and what is my passion.

I think that this is useful to create a precise identity of my work and then facilitate the enter in the right network  to transform my own projects and interests in the way of my income.

I’m working in the art and creativity sector and I’m really interested at your project of a career guidance service in the cultural - creative industries.

I’ve read that you’ ve tested it on kickstarter and I think that you can also to suggest the test in some university like mine ( Ca’ Foscari, Venice) where there is a laboratory called  MACLAB (laboratory of art and culture management) that has the aim to do research and experimentation and meet researchers and innovators in the field of art and culture. If you want I give the mail of the MACLAB coordinator. Also in Milan, in Bocconi University there is a similar laboratory.

Last thing: I’d like to know what kind of contributes have you received for your projects from people that are working in your same space.



identity of your work, yep

ciao Alessia,

thank you for taking the time to read my contributions!

Yes defining the identity of your work is such a good exercise!

You wrote:

Last thing: I'd like to know what kind of contributes have you received for your projects from people that are working in your same space
Good question. This "space" in the Italian context is populated mainly by psychologysts and social scientists.

From them I learnt what’s important and relevant to do job-guidance work, and on the other hand I learnt how bad they are at communicating and implementing their findings.

That’s why, as a designer, I’m taking the “content” (the actions) mostly as they defined them and I’m trying to deliver and implement them in a more functional and beautiful way.


ps. Regarding the MACLAB: I’ll follow up with you in Strasbourg, thanks : )

there is some learning for all

so also people who give an expert aid, at the end they have an important and useful feedback, isn’t it?