Open thread: How many careers do you have?

Welcome to our fourth open thread, where we turn the conversation over to our community.

Photo credit: Photo credit: Tischenko Irina, Shutterstock
Photo credit: Photo credit: Tischenko Irina, Shutterstock

For a variety of reasons—a challenging economy that makes it hard to find full-time work; a need for more flexibility in one’s career; a desire to explore all of one’s passions instead of just focusing on one—more people have multiple careers. A good friend of mine, for example, isn’t just a program manager; she’s a freelance writer and coach.

Marci Alboher, Vice President of Encore.org, explored this in her book One person/multiple careers : a new model for work/life success. In the book, she interviews people who have turned their multiple interests into multiple careers or slash careers: “pilates instructor and an art dealer; an attorney and a minister; a psychotherapist and a violin maker; and a teacher, dancer and puppeteer.”

We’ve talked about this a bit before in our piece about cultivating side hustles (money earned from jobs outside of your full-time work), but it’d be great to continue the conversation.

What do you think of this concept? Do you have a slash career? Share your insights and experiences below.

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Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.
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Comments

  1. I earned a Master of Public Health degree in 2010 and soon was employed by the University from which I graduated. While I LOVE public health, which exercises much of my quantitative side, I also love writing. I freelanced for just over a year and then formalized into Elevate Resume Services LLC this January. It provides me with a chance to help people with resumes, cover letters, professional biographies, LinkedIn profiles, and performance appraisals and to truly make a difference in a meaningful way almost everyday. If you need a resume or related document, I invite you to check out my website at elevateresume.com. Always happy to help.

    • Mike
    • March 19, 2014

    I love the idea of having mulitple careers and sources of income. I’ve applied to a number of quality, thorough jobs–tailored resumes, cover letters, reaching out via linkedin, phone and email, showing up unannounced, the whole nine!– and I’ve discovered that finding a one and only fulltime “career” is difficult–no shit. And that’s just as well because who would want to box themeselved into one thing? I have a lot of skills and a lot of interests; I want to do a lot of things– I don’t care how good your benefits are! So, the approach I’ve resorted to, which I’m learning to love, involves cultivating a number of job prospects and working them, part time, on and off, adjusting my schedule to the opportunities at hand. Currently I work parttime at a university as a news writer and PR guy, pick up carpetry sidework though a staffing agencis I’m registered with, freelance for a couple small web development/ start-up companies, and have time to develop my own parttime business as an English tutor. My schedule constantly fluctuates–so flexiblity and organization are key–but living like this constantly exposes me to new people and work. How enriching! I might not rock this worklife forever, but it’s surely working for now.

    • Miranda
    • March 19, 2014

    I lost my job due to the recession back in ’08. I was introduced to youth advocacy and transitioned into policy work and campaigns from there. It was great until I realized although it was a way to pump up my resume, looking back I wouldn’t ever do it again, working for free on a side career through leadership positions has only created a fake sense of successes when at the end of the day all I really needed was a job. This has become the Keeping up with the Joneses of the workforce.

      • Katherine
      • March 26, 2014

      Miranda, your comment is spot on. I think a lot of us went through or are still going through what you are talking about. In the end, what turned out to be your new normal? Did you get back to your field full time at the same level? In my case, it was my husband who lost his corporate counsel job and decided to move back to his home country. We are living in Mexico now and I have a great job in my field but the pay is not at the pre-recession level. With my over-achiever personality I haven´t considered multiple jobs, but it is one strategy that many are managing to overcome the trend in stagnant wage growth.

    • Cat Yunque
    • March 19, 2014

    Confessions from an employment Gypsy: I have done allot of things …starting at 13 as a summer Nanny…then various sales, one fatal dip into the drudgery of factory line work that made it clear to me after a week what I would never want to do again. On to Geriatric care and then as part of a team doing diagnostic work at a psychiatric children’s hospital. Artist, in oils …self pleasing poet, freelance design of anything from kitchens to jewelry and then owning my own company doing one of a kind cabinets…I have filled the cracks between with intermittent college, two children, several homes across the country from house cleaning to modeling, stable management and groom. Antique restoration and sales, general grunt work. Now I look forward to some organic greenhouse development for a boot strap program to encourage local food supplies and education and sustainable work for under or unemployed families. Sounds scattered….well it is …but I have enjoyed all of it for the work the energy, knowledge and for the freedom it has given my spirit. I never feel as if that’s all there is. I never feel that I can’t take a stab at something or that I’m helpless, there is always something to get interested in, and to enjoy. It’s a different lifestyle than most would think to choose. It is however the one that fits me best and is serving me well.

    • Cbs
    • March 27, 2014

    Talk about multiple careers! I’ve had more jobs and careers than Sybil did multiple personalities! First, I’ll say I’m 46 and have been in the work force for 25 years. Currently unemployed. Career history: the biggies were as a lawyer for the legal aid society for 4 years and a high school teacher for 4 years. After these careers failed to provide a level of happiness I had hoped for, I found myself as a walking tour guide here in NYC! I’m licensed and do freelance work but it’s seasonal and can’t do this for the rest of my life. I dream of being my own boss of a tour company but in NYC forget about it. Tour companies abound and I have no startup money.

    Before and in between the big careers (law, teaching), I’ve had assorted administrative jobs (in film, real estate, education, and miscellaneous work environments that have exposed me to so many skills and environments I don’t know how to highlight it all on a resume). I’ve interned and volunteered in human rights work and also community development. I’ve also had soooo many stupid little jobs (McJobs, as I call them) I walk around with guest son my tours and say, oh I once worked there, oh, I also worked in that shop. Etc etc.

    Here’s where I could use some words of support from you all out there: I know SO much about SO many things and yet because I am all over the place, I think I frighten employers. And I hate to say it but I think my age makes employers nervous. That I will demand a high salary (as Katherine above called it pre-recession salary) though I am flexible about pay, I need to be. And honestly, my age makes ME nervous. I’m afraid I’ll end up in some lame office job not in non-profit, not helping anyone and just bringing home a paycheck. I’m afraid I’ll be floating forever.

    I followed my interests and when what I was doing made me more unhappy than happy I moved on and tried new things. People always say ‘wow, that’s so admirable, I wish I had the courage to do that’ but I feel like I screwed up. I followed my heart and now like I said, I’m floating.

    I’ve considered spending money (that I don’t really have) to see a career counselor/resume expert cause I just don’t know how to market myself. The only people who take an interest in me are quirky companies that want a Jill of all trades, and I like those types of jobs, but there aren’t that many of them out there in interesting fields.

    Thanks for listening to me blab, I’m just at a scary point in life and don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. Any thoughts? Any jobs? 🙂

    • Fressia Cerna
    • March 27, 2014

    Good for those who can jump from one thing to another during the same day or same week. I agree with Miranda, at the end, what one needs is a job that helps to pay the bills, and doing lots of things, is exhausting and probably at the end, is not enough. And probably it works for those living in USA, but not in other countries where flexibility means not having social security, pension, etc. I have a full time job and teach a class twice a week at a local university at Masters level, in my free time I design and craft jewelry. Form my full time job I get a monthly pay check to pay my bills, from my teaching job I get another check that helps for the candies, and from my art side I get pleasure. Do I sell my jewelry pieces? Yes, but all goes to provide the needed materials which are very expensive and I have to import from USA. So I do several things, I get pay checks, but not enough close to what I would like them to be. Is this good for me? Yes, but it doesn’t mean is good for everyone, specially to those who are starting their careers and need to establish a path.

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