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!