A Brief Explanation of Portfolio Careers

I remember October 1984, and my first week in University. We had a pep talk from the University president who gave us some food for thought. Now I don’t remember everything he said, but I do remember clearly two specific ideas he ‘threw out’ to us uninitiated University newbies.

  • Students should spend ten hours a day studying. Obviously there was a unified gasp of disbelief and deflation from two hundred people had plans for four years of fun with some lectures and study ‘on the side’ The president’s rebuff was “Ten hours of study and 8 hours of sleep allowed six hours for recreation every day” What had we left ourselves in for?
  • In one’s working lifetime, a typical graduate would have seven different jobs, and three different careers.

After four years, many of us graduated having done significantly less than ten hours of study every day. One can only wonder would we be better off or worse off had we done all that study.

Regarding the second piece of information/advice, much has changed, and now people speak of Portfolio Careers, where a person can have several jobs and and maybe more than one career all going on at the same time.

With a mix of part-time positions, contract work and self employment, through hot desking and working from home- offices, technology has facilitated people in leading a new work lifestyle and the phrase Portfolio Career has been born.

Now to clarify, this is not the same as having a broad ranging position that involves many and varied duties. It means having a number of different employers, possibly including yourself, and carrying out a number of different duties for each of these employers. In essence it’s giving portions of your time/experience/expertise to different employers across a range of services, products etc.

The primary benefit of having a portfolio career should be fairly obvious, particularly in the current uncertain environment; Risk can be spread across a number of employers, so if one employer no longer requires your services, you still have a number of others that allow you to continue to have an income stream. Additionally with a broad service offering, it may be easier to find a replacement for the employer who no longer requires you.

On the downside, there can be uncertainty, because of the way your responsibilities are spread, as work can be piecemeal and irregular at times. Also, because you may only be a very small part of an employer’s workforce, you can be easily forgotten, and more likely to be first to go when things get tough.

So what type of person might be suited to a portfolio career?

  • In the first instance one will need to be highly organised, and have the ability to apportion ‘slices’ of time to each employer/portfolio element.
  • Having the ability to prioritise, and to juggle different skills and disciplines is a must. One minute might involve dealing with an irate employer, and the next might be in a completely different business area with a different employer and completely different circumstances such as geographical area or culture.
  • It will also be helpful to have flexibility on time availability, especially in circumstances when dealing with employers in different time zones.

You might ask yourself ‘Why on earth would I even consider having a portfolio career? One answer is that in the current economic environment, and with the outlook not being particularly bright, you might have no choice. However, the variety and flexibility offered by this lifestyle choice may well appeal to many.

Important Steps to Take When Choosing a Career

Choosing a career is often times a difficult step for many individuals. Some people know the gist of what they would like to do but do not have a concrete plan in mind when it comes to selecting the desired career. For those who are searching for a new career, there are a few steps to take in order to ensure that they choose the perfect one.

Think About What You Enjoy Doing

The first step is to think about what you enjoy doing. For example, if numbers are your thing perhaps the role of an accountant or other type of finance-related position might be the perfect career for you. Determine what it is that you enjoy doing and see if there are any careers out there which allow you to take your favored activities and make a job position out of them.

Consider the Feasibility of Obtaining a Job in Your Desired Occupation

The next step is to consider whether or not you will be able to make an occupation out of your desired job role. Determine how feasible it is for you to obtain a certain type of job and then decide if you are better off looking at other job positions in which you will be more successful in obtaining. The feasibility factor is important as it will dictate whether you are able to get a certain job or not.

Determine If You Have the Required Education Level

It is important to keep in mind that certain jobs will require specific education levels. For example, in order to become a lawyer you must have a four-year college degree in addition to a three-year law degree. Therefore, if you are fresh out of high school and wish to become a lawyer you will have to obtain a good deal of schooling prior to doing so. When choosing a career, make sure that it is one which is readily accessible at the moment if you intend on starting work right away. If not, you may need to obtain some more education first prior to applying for a certain position.

Consider the Amount of Job Opportunities in Your Area

If you wish to stay in your local area when you obtain a specific job it is important to consider how prevalent jobs are in your chosen career field where you live. Some jobs will be few and far between whereas others will be voluminous in number. Look into this factor prior to settling on a specific career choice, especially if you are set on staying in the same area once you obtain the job.

Think About Long Term Goals

When selecting a career it is important to not only look at aspects regarding the near future but your long-term goals as well. When finding a new career path you should consider what you want your goals to be in the future with regard to this career and determine whether your long-term goals can be carried out in your desired career choice. This will help you in your endeavors with choosing a career.