You get into university, you get your degree and specialization, you become an intern, then you move around jobs on your field, and eventually you climb to a leading position. This has been the ideal model of a career for a long time, but does that still stand today? Well, yes but actually no.
Today we will discuss Multi-Career mentality and why having a more winding career path is actually better in the long run.
Essentially when we are talking about multi-career paths, aside from the worst title for a featured image, it is the process in which someone moves around multiple fields and has had many "careers" until he settles in his main job, so to speak. A couple of generations now, at most, the trend of people seldom practicing their degree as soon as they are out of college became a standard many of us grew up with. In the ever changing market and the increase cost of living, people stopped trying to get into the field they were exclusively and instead started to get whatever job was available.
But what happens when those people eventually find their way back to their field? Well, simply put, they realized that certain skills are transferable between jobs, and having multiple skills from different fields allows for more flexibility and makes you a more desirable applicant.
There are multiple advantages into why having multiple careers is good for your future. In Ashley Fidel's article on The Muse she gives us a few good reasons why, but I want to focus on one
You will build Transferable Skills. In her article ms Fidel writes: "No matter what industry or role you’re in, there are several common skills that will help you succeed. Getting experience in communicating clearly, coordinating skillfully with multiple departments, managing up, and building client relationships, for example, will be a big advantage in any field."
But the skills you acquire might not be only universal. For example, in the way a lot of current video games, incorporate player driven economies, someone that has picked up skills in economics even if they are a developer, has a better understanding on how to incorporate those systems in the game. Furthermore, a manager of a multi international trading company that has previously worked in an I.T company early in his career, might understand the need for cyber security or be able to understand the needs of his I.T department better, thus becoming a better leader for them.
Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System at Unsplash
This ties in perfectly with another article by The Muse, by their author Natalie Jesionka, in which she says that another one of the perks of having multiple careers is that you can aim for a more global market. "Across the world, different professions are respected in different ways, and you may find a skill set you have that was completely undervalued in the United States will be celebrated elsewhere." the article reads and that is completely true. Not only a certain profession may be needed in one country when its undervalued in another, but also certain skills might give you an advantage when applying for the same profession.
The disadvantages are more subtle than the advantages, truth be told, and they are less a problem of having multiple careers and more a problem of WHY you need to have multiple careers.
Over the past 20 years or so the multi-career path has risen into popularity, and most of the people above 40-50 experienced a more linear system for their careers. They would enter their field as a junior, invest in their work there, and eventually get promoted, usually on the same company, as back then, people were not fired as easily as they are today. This safety meant that people could focus on singular career paths, and although the way the market today is intertwined makes for more well rounded individuals, the lack of security many employees have is not a good thing. In an article on Lindekin talking about the subject of how working worked for our parents it reads: "Hopefully they spent their entire career with one company (ah, security), or maybe they worked for a few different employers if the company they joined fell on hard times. They worked for their gold watch, a pension, and looked forward to the day they paid off their home, could buy an RV and begin traveling to see their kids and grandkids where ever they lived. They longed for retirement because it signaled the day they could quit doing what they had to to do and could start doing what they wanted to do."
Photo By Saulo Mohana at Unsplash
With the market's more unstable nature and people not having the same security in their job as they did previously, many go down the multiple-career path not by choice, but from necessity, and that never a good sign, and the only thing you need as proof is a simple google search. Multiple articles, such as this graph from ResearchGate show the increase in stress in the workforce as the market shifted faster than we could process the changes.
Furthermore the question of specialization needs to come in play when we discuss multi-career paths. Sure, a CEO that has gone through multiple careers is more versatile and, without a doubt, might be able to tackle certain issues with innovative ideas, but will he be as specialized and experience in his field, compared to the CEO that has focused on that career alone?
Without a doubt a tough subject but one that is interesting to see by both perspective.
On one hand, it is truly a good thing, that flexibility and a vast array of skills and knowledge is starting to become the norm. I believe it fosters for more interesting people, more well and properly educated and open minded, and could potentially promote a work environment of co-operation. With managers having gone through the careers they are supposed to manage, I believe it will lead into leaders that understand and offer intuitive and "to-the-point" solutions to problems, maybe before they even exist.
On the other hand, the lack of focus, the volatile market as well as our mentality and educational systems still catching up to the modern needs of the market, fosters for a chaotic and stressful work environment that could turn into a major issue unless addressed.
Either way, multi-career paths is a thing that is not only possible, but in fact celebrated.