One of the really cool things about how flexible an LIS career can be is that it allows you to create your own path, and pretty much endlessly take that career onto new paths as your life circumstances dictate. And if you enjoy multi-tasking, one of those new paths might actually be to take it several directions at the same time.
For example, as you think about the future of your career, you might consider combining multiple types of income streams. For example:
Being a part-time employee. This revenue stream would enable you to work as part of a team or organization, which can be incredibly rewarding, but on a part-time basis. For those of us who are born loners, working with a team lets us avoid our worst “hermit” tendencies, but doing it part-time provides not only social interaction for you, it also leaves you time to pursue other professional interests. A part-time job also provides a steady income (and possibly health insurance), if at a lower hourly rate than you could probably charge doing contract or consulting work.
Doing client projects. This second revenue stream provides the fun, challenge, and high hourly pay rate of working on client projects, but then also offers the joy of being a finite commitment of your time and energy – there’s the high of that initial project ramp-up period, the craziness of doing whatever it takes to get to success, and then the relief of being able to move onto something else engaging (read: crazy-making).
Doing creative work related to a passion. This third revenue stream may often start out as more of a pursuit of passion than income (for me, this is the topic of career design and building resilient careers ) but then can end up developing into a reliable source of solid financial support during “retirement years,” when most of us would rather have less work and more freedom. For me, that’s career column writing, teaching, doing the occasional book, and perhaps exploring online teaching; for you, it could be something completely different, but equally engaging. The goal is to have this be work you can do from anywhere at any time, affording you income but also the maximum amount of personal and logistical freedom.
Benefits of a Blended Career
The value of this blended-career approach for those who enjoy the challenge (and don’t mind the occasional craziness) of juggling multiple engagements is that you have the benefits of some security, some “new and different” challenges via project work (as well as opportunity for higher pay), and some professional independence, where you get to completely run your own show and invest only as much time and effort as you want.
As your career progresses, you may find you want to do less of one type of work and more of the others, which is easier to do if you’ve been building these bases along the way.
Trying This Out in Real Life
Currently, I’m following a blended career path and paying careful attention to how well I’m able to balance the different commitments. On a part-time basis, I’m the Chief Content Strategist for a Colorado-based PR firm. As Dority & Associates, I’m helping a local start-up create an information strategy and develop website content for its healthcare company.
And in my spare time, I’m drafting a book outline for a new book on building a resilient career, teaching a class in alternative LIS careers this fall at the University of Denver, developing a course curriculum for the LE@D program, managing the LinkedIn LIS Career Options group (subgroup of the ALA group, you don’t have to be an ALA member to join; LinkedIn > ALA Group > subgroup LIS Career Options), and (hopefully!) making a serious commitment to writing an LIS careers blog, Infonista.
Is it possible (okay, and mentally healthy!) to juggle three career paths at the same time? No clue – but then that’s what makes it fun to try! Is anybody else pursuing this path? Words of wisdom for the rest of us? Please share!
Although I’m hoping to find a full time position with benefits once I’ve completed my MLIS, because of the health challenges I face, I may have to create a blended career so that I can manage my time and work demands to avoid overtaxing myself. However, making wise decisions entrepreneurial decisions is a gift I’m not sure I have. If you’ve found any information about helping people make these kinds of decisions, let me know. Or write a book about it. 🙂 I’m sure I’m not the only one who could use a guide.
I think this work/career model is really important because it does open up possibilities for people such as myself who have a disability or condition that prevents them from participating in a regular full time schedule. It allows them more control and flexibility–or to design what I think of as an organic work schedule/environment, that is, one responsive to the fact that the people involved are living things. There are people who are unemployed because they can’t see, and really our culture has great difficulty seeing, beyond the 8-5, 5 days in a row, continually supervised work paradigm.
Which is to say, though you haven’t gotten any response here, this way of creating a career is vital to advocate. Some people can’t work without it.
Forgot I wanted to mention that Carol Lloyd in her book Creating a Life Worth Living refers to two types of non-linear career forms similar to this. One is the Wood Nymph: “Like the branches of a tree, the Wood Nymph’s career flows from a single trunk but splits into divergent but related goals.”
And the Whirling Dervish: “This model was created by one of my students who sought to show how her three different careers–visuala re, teaching, and documentary film–together led her toward her ultimate . . . goals.” It goes on to show how the demands of the different careers dovetail so that she exercises various aspects of her personality/abilities throughout a yearlong career/project cycle.
Jen, I think you’ve identified a really important sector of the population who have huge contributions to make, but for whom it’s not feasible to do so within the traditionally structured work environment.
When I was working with Disaboom.com (an online portal for people with disabilities), it quickly became clear that for the 55 million people who are differently abled, alternative career paths are a must. And yep, this would be a good topic to explore in more depth….I’m starting to make some notes….
I love your references from Carol Lloyd’s book – definitely going to have to track this down and read the book!
Yes, I was thinking of disaboom and I’m glad you’ve “been there and done that” with them.
I’d love to stay in the loop on the blended, balanced career development. Will look into the Lloyd book but please keep me in your distribution on exchanging info and thoughts about this topic in with these skills.