It has been quite a week for Adam Koszary. His quirky digital campaign for the previously obscure Museum of English Rural Life won a Gold Muse Award from the American Alliance of Museums.
Hours after he tweeted his delight, the 28-year-old posted that he was no longer going to join London's Royal Academy, but would move to a quite different role: social media manager at Tesla, the carmaker headed by the mercurial Elon Musk. As career pivots go, this is a handbrake turn.
Koszary's job prospects took off like a SpaceX rocket last year after he posted a black-and-white picture of a huge ram from the Merl's archive on Twitter with the message "look at this absolute unit".
The post gave new life to an old meme and last month attracted Musk's attention.
A banterous back-and-forth on the social media channel culminated in the entrepreneur using the ram as his profile picture. Koszary briefly recast the Merl account as "The Muskeum of Elonglish Rural Life".
How this virtual — and, for non-users of Twitter, baffling — flirtation blossomed into a job offer is unclear. Neither Koszary nor Tesla has commented, though the RA sustained the light-hearted tone, wishing its un-recruit well, joking about a deal to deliver an "RA-branded Model S" car, and re-advertising the £33,000-a-year job ($63,884) he had turned down.
The consensus from his admiring fans seemed to be that this was a job offer Koszary could not refuse, but there were also a few warnings that he should be careful what he wishes for.
It is one thing dealing with Musk at a distance, quite another working closely with the technology impresario and his lawyers as they navigate a restrictive agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission about the entrepreneur's freedom to tweet. Sheep memes unite; online speculation about Tesla and its future tends to divide.
Career gurus like to advise people to aim high and never look back, on the assumption "passion" and drive will eventually yield the dream job.
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This is a misleadingly linear narrative, distorted by survivor bias. It ignores those who leapt and fell, and includes too many fairy tales of talent spotted and rewarded. It omits entirely the important and slow process of trial and error as any career evolves.
My standard career advice has long been to adopt an "EasyJet approach", after the low-cost airline. If you fixate only on one possible destination and time of arrival you are likely to pay a high price to get there, and may not even get a seat. The more flexible you are about offers and opportunities, the more likely you are to arrive.
Koszary's story offers some good examples of how to navigate the early twists in any job history.
First, ensure you are in the right state of mind. Koszary was already committed to leave the Merl and jump to a bigger job. Once he had decided to move, it was easier to consider other opportunities when they came up.
The fact he left of his own accord also sets him up to enjoy the new job more. Managers and workers experience a "honeymoon-hangover effect" after changing jobs. Their satisfaction peaks in the new role and then declines. One study suggests only those who leave voluntarily end up more satisfied than they were at their old employer.
Second, ride your success. Koszary already has a website and blog dedicated to "fun, effective social media" and offers talks and workshops. He is a fledgling expert in museum communications rather than in Tesla's domain of electric vehicles and clean energy.
But he has built a strong launch pad from which to blast off — and one to which he can return if the Tesla job does not work out.
Third, know what you are getting into. The Tesla role may offer Koszary less leeway to post memes than the job he is leaving. But he is no innocent.
In a blog post about "swapping souls with Elon Musk", he described how the Merl started receiving "messages from people asking for jobs, for money to help their starving families, and for free Teslas . . . It was a terrifying glimpse of the amount of noise celebrities attract on Twitter, and I don't know how they cope". He may be about to find out.
There will be times at Tesla when Koszary wistfully dreams of digital sheep and the freedoms he enjoyed at a small museum in middle England. But he has already proved the point of a new survey by Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group.
It suggests business leaders think fear of significant change is the main factor that stops staff preparing for the uncertain future of work.
Yet when asked who was responsible for getting ready for that future, employees in most countries polled said they bore more responsibility than their government or employer.
In this world of self-reliance, it probably helps if you are yourself an absolute unit.
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Written by: Andrew Hill
© Financial Times