I’ll be honest. Until recently, I’d never even heard the term “portfolio career.” I’d heard of people working multiple jobs to make ends meet. This isn’t quite the same thing as a portfolio career, though.
A portfolio career carries a bit more intention and weight behind it; each venture is selected carefully and scrutinized. Does it contribute to my ultimate career goals? If not, I must decline, thank you very much.
As a portfolio careerist myself, I decided to stop working my full-time job on purpose. I wasn’t laid off or fired. I requested to transition to part-time status in order to pursue my interest in teaching college again. About this time, a long-time dream of mine (to pursue career coaching and owning my own business) came to fruition through the encouragement of my career mentor, Samantha Hartley, owner of Enlightened Marketing. There’s no such thing as perfect timing when it comes to taking a leap of faith as an entrepreneur; at some point, you simply have to do the best research you can, concoct some sort of back-up plan, and then leap forward and hope for the best.
I recently had the good fortune of being interviewed by Dr. Steven Lindner, a talent acquisition, assessment, and hiring process expert at The WorkPlace Group. We discussed the rise of portfolio careers among Millennials, reasons for this trend, and my own career journey.
The article Dr. Lindner wrote mentions multiple benefits to working as a portfolio careerist, and I can vouch for many of them. In just a few months, I already believe that the greatest benefit for me is flexibility and work-life balance. As the mother of a young child, spending time with my daughter is of utmost importance. However, it comes at a price. I have to manage my time more carefully and strategically than ever before. Starting a business and managing content for a company while taking care of a three year-old little girl (with only part-time childcare assistance) is pretty tricky at times. At the end of the day, though, it’s worth it.
I won’t list all the benefits to working as a portfolio careerist, but here’s one more. I have always had so many interests that I’ve found it difficult to remain focused at times. I’ve felt like a kid in Baskin-Robbins when taking interest and skill inventories. Should I pursue a career as a writer? Oh yes. But what about a physician? I love biology and science. Oh wait–what about philosophy? I could discuss Plato’s dialogues all day long. As a portfolio careerist, I allow myself the license to explore a few of my favorite things simultaneously: teaching, career coaching, and writing/content management. The result? I’m fulfilled and am able to use multiple abilities/talents rather than just one teeny tiny skill set. For college students and recent grads (or rambling adults, for that matter) who make all A’s and can’t ever make up their minds about which direction to turn, a portfolio career might be a great fit.
Is a portfolio career right for everyone? Absolutely not. Is it a great fit for many Millennials? Certainly. For people who match the descriptions laid out in Dr. Steven Lindner’s article, it’s worth considering whether pursuing a portfolio career is right for you.
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2 thoughts on “Is a portfolio career right for you?”
Bethany, I totally relate to your experience, which is similar to mine. I am not in the process of looking for a “regular” job, as a move from Europe to the US affected my portfolio career quite negatively. I think it is easier to have such a career when you are well networked and connected. Moving from one continent to another makes matters a bit more difficult…But I am still thinking of my “portfolio”…as I have several ideas related to writing, art curating, and health coaching in my head.
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Anna, thanks for commenting. I think a big move like yours constitutes looking at branding yourself online on a deeper level than you have before. You may already be doing this. It’s a good way to build connections which transcend location. I personally do this because I work remotely in all three of my current positions/businesses. Networking with people online not only helps me build connections (even with people who don’t live in the same region) but also helps satisfy my desire to interact with others when I’m busy working at home. If you need help building your personal and professional brand and navigating the waters of networking online, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am more than happy to work with you!