A 21st century career path?
I have been thinking a lot about my career path, it has been a bumpy one with some large absences due to kids, health, husbands career and life in general but I'm finally starting to feel like I am figuring it out. It is not a traditional path and one that many find hard to understand, but my husband and I are becoming masters of the portfolio career... people have stopped asking how many pies we have fingers in and more what flavour they are.
A portfolio career is an increasingly popular way to work, especially in the current economical climate where redundancy is high and jobs seem scarce. It means rather than working one full time job, combining two or more types of work. In it's simplest form this can be working two part time jobs, taken further it is a variety of eclectic employment experiences.
Portfolio Careers are usually built around a collection of skills and interests, the main theme being self management - a portfolio career means you no longer have one boss but multiple ones or you are self employed and the only boss you have is yourself.
There are many reasons for considering a portfolio career:
A better work/life balance
Use of multiple skill sets
The ability to follow multiple passions or for personal growth
Necessity due to childcare or family commitments
The desire to be self employed and control your own fate
There are, of course challenges to wearing multiple hats and it requires a good set of organisational skills. Balancing demands for time and managing your time effectively between roles is key. Other challenges are higher levels of uncertainty, feelings of isolation when you don't have a photo copier to gossip over with colleagues and a lack of routine that some may thrive on but others may struggle with.
I run a photography business, I also work for the arts collaboration that my husband has developed. I run the blog So Bad Ass, I write for others and do public speaking at events all over the UK. My latest business is launching in December and will bring a whole new pie to the table!
It's hard work and long hours - but I don't think I could work for someone else again. Being my own boss and having portfolio careers mean I feel fulfilled, excited and in control of my work. It's not for everyone but my husband and I have done this for a long time and so we are comfortable with a lifestyle that offers no pension, no sick pay and looonnnnnng hours.
The past year has been the toughest of my life, I have faced illness, multiple surgeries and a long, hard recovery. The only way I have come through this is with the support of my husband who has taken on the bulk of work and allowed me time to heal and not worry about work. On a day to day basis I am able to plan my work around my recovery. If I have been up all night, I can take the morning off and work later on. If I can't sleep and face insomnia then I can get tasks done at 3am! The flexibility that a self employed portfolio career offers means I still feel that I can work and still take care of my health. It means I can enjoy the benefits of a work life, both financial and from a self worth point of view.
Think hard about your options, Graham Nicholson, president of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, says career planning should be based on four main factors: skills, interests, values and personality. If you have a wide range of skills and interests, then a portfolio career is likely to work better.
If you are considering a change in career or just starting out then there are more options than the traditional career path - get some good careers advice and look at all your options, you never know a portfolio career might just work for you.
Love Sam xx