To A Degree: Steven Laverty


There is nothing wrong with being proud of our achievements.  In most cases we have worked hard for them, stayed up far too late for them and sacrificed our social lives for them.  One of the rewards of having a CV, surely, is that we get to announce to the world what we got in exchange, whether that be a skill, academic qualification or indeed a Brownie badge.

It was bizarre to talk to Steven Laverty about this, because his experience of having a pretty good CV is that the opposite is true.  Not only do some of his accomplishments hinder his professional progress; the least obvious items are also the most important for him personally.

Let’s start with the hindrances: many people, including last week’s interviewee Helena Bumpus, are quite rightly proud of their degrees.  Degrees represent years of late night essay writing, living on supermarket noodles and staggering home a lot (either because you’re carrying a tower of library books or because you’re a bit sozzled).  Steven is no stranger to these experiences, but as an actor he has found his degree a bit of an issue:

I’ve found that we’ve kind of been told all these lies at uni, like “oh if you get this degree then you’ll be set up”.  That makes sense if you’re going into a regular career path, whereas I’m going into life as an actor, so actually the jobs I’m applying for are things like coffee shops, casual work, just a pay-the-bills day job…And they don’t want people with degrees…  If I could get a job where it was flexible enough for me to go to auditions, I would be there long term, but it’s difficult to get that opportunity –because of my degree people expect me to think that I’m too good for the job, and that I won’t be there for very long.

It seems weird at best and an apocalyptic waste of money at worst to find that four years of hard work would be better kept under wraps, but Steven is nothing if not a pragmatist, and he has found the value in other aspects of his CV:

One of the things I’m most proud of would be directing The Crucible, because we had to really fight for it…personally for me it was very, very fulfilling, so I look at that, and it’s not necessarily going to be the thing that maybe really sells me to someone, but it’s still on my CV and it’s something that, personally and professionally, I’m very, very proud of.

Steven’s attitude to CVs in general is admirably philosophical: that being a good person is a) more important than being a model potential employee, and b) that being a good person will lead to being a good employee anyway.

I actually think the progress I’ve made as a person and in my life outlook…is what makes me a really good employee.  I’ve met someone and they’ve liked me as a person and we’ve connected and they’ve liked my attitude or whatever…then when they got my CV, all the stuff that sold them on me in the first place wasn’t actually on it.

Steven’s perspective makes perfect sense, and obviously when someone employs us they get the person, not the piece of paper.  It’s also refreshing to hear a relatively recent graduate concentrate on himself as a human being rather than worry about work.

As soon as you graduate you’ve gone from [doing] everything to nothing, and it kind of forces you to reflect and kind of go “what have I learned?”  And you realise that the answers are all inside you but you’ve just not put them into words in your brain.  I just had time to do that, so I’ve picked a couple of like little mantras or things to live by for myself…and I feel that has made me better in my life, and I think actually that’s the stuff which sells me as an employee and makes me why someone might want to work with me, but that’s not on my CV.  That’s all like ‘here, I did a bit of theatre’.

Speaking of doing a bit of theatre, you can see Steven in RedBellyBlack’s production Tumbling After all month at the Edinburgh Fringe.  (I may or may not be directing said production, but it’s my blog site, so I can do what I like.)

Next time: Robet Boulton

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