What is multi-professionalism and why it gives you freedom?
We’re living in an ever-changing and often unstable economy, where longterm job security is no longer guaranteed, and one income is sometimes not enough to sustain a decent lifestyle.
For many of us, this can become a cause for concern. Not knowing whether your paycheck can support you, or your family, can create a source of anxiety. Which is why, in an effort to feel protected in difficult times – more people are turning to multi-professionalism.
Multi-professionalism, at its simplest, is the idea of individuals holding more than one job or profession.
It’s a term that encompasses any number of different practices, ranging from someone working several
different jobs, to someone redefining their profession by specializing in multiple fields.
Multi-professionalism is on the rise for different reasons, although the most common one seems to be that it provides financial independence. If you have different sources of income, then you can afford to lose one job in a failing or changing economy. Likewise, if you have multiple specialties, then you become more appealing to employers and can navigate the job market more easily.
The idea of multi-professionalism isn’t a new one. In the world of healthcare, multi-professionalism is becoming common practice. In fact, many hospitals are now demanding that medical students and healthcare workers receive a multi-professional education (MPE).
According to research published by the US National Library of Health , multi-professional education is high in demand by hospitals because of its capacity to improve teamwork.
The idea is pretty simple. If you’re working in a hospital with hundreds of specialists, who are all treating the same patients, then teamwork is key. You all need to be able to work together to help the patients. But this is virtually impossible if you don’t know what the other professionals are doing, and what their job involves.
This is where multi-professionalism comes in. It breaks down the barriers between specialists, and gives everyone the opportunity to learn together during certain periods of their education. In such a way, you can communicate better with other professionals, and hold mutual respect for each other as you’re introduced to their skills and expertise.
How is this relevant to you?
Well, people seem to be really attracted to the idea of educating themselves in other professions. This is particularly relevant if you work in a field where there are different specialists.
By specializing in several different areas of their profession, to varying degrees, people can seriously increase their appeal as employees. This is because multi-professionalism not only shows initiative, but it also proves that you have the capacity to work with other people – if anything because you understand them more.
And in a competitive job market, where having one or two degrees is now considered a basic requirement; being able to show that you can understand, relate and even help other employees is a real advantage.
For those of us that don’t work in a “field”, however, it can be difficult to get a multi-professional education. If you have a really specific job, like a position in the service sector for example, then it’s basically impossible for you to specialize in different areas – because there are no specialists in your career.
For many people in this situation, the only viable alternative is working multiple jobs, or starting multiple businesses. It’s an attempt to vary sources of income, and not rely on one (potentially unstable) job to pay for housing, food and other basic necessities.
This is when multi-professionalism is used to define an individual that, literally, has multiple professions. It’s becoming so common, in fact, that the terms “multiple careers” and “slash careers” are now also being used to describe it.
Pursue different interests and passions.
For many, multi-professionalism is born out of necessity but this hasn’t stopped them from turning it into something positive. Lots of people now view multi-professionalism as an opportunity to pursue different interests or passions, while also benefitting from several streams of income.
In an article for the blog Freelancers Union, “actor/playwright/freelance writer” Kate Hamill writes about her experience as a multi-professional. The article is insightful, in that Hamill outlines just how common a “slash career” really is. She says that while she first felt embarrassed to admit that she had more than one career, she soon realized that it was quickly becoming the norm.
In fact, Hamill states that many of her colleagues and friends are now “directors/teachers,” and “nannies/photographers” and “accountants/activists”. She writes that, in her experience, people are “seriously pursuing several interests at once – often with great success”, and that this is no longer something reserved for freelancers. Full and part time employees are also juggling several careers as a means to keep up with the unpredictable economy, and doing so successfully.
Hamill also points out that having different careers is a good way to navigate our “fluid economy”, and this is really relevant. Working different jobs can be a great way of varying what you do in your day to day life, as well as learning new skills that can make your more valuable as an employee.
Because in an uncertain economy, a person who has knowledge in different fields is definitely more of an asset than someone who has more specialized knowledge in only one. It shows that they are adaptable, and work well in different environments. And this is goes for people working unrelated jobs, as well as those working multiple professions in the same field.
Multi-professionalism and collaborations.
The increasing popularity of multi-professionalism can seem like a bad thing, especially if you consider that if people are working more than one job and have more than one expertise- then there’s a lot more competition in the job market today than there was previously.
But this is a really negative way to look at it, and here’s why. If there are more people, open to more opportunities, and looking to gain more skills – then there are endless opportunities for collaboration.
Working together with other likeminded individuals can be an incredibly efficient way of earning a steady second or third income, while also creating something unique and exciting.
It’s easy to find examples of multi-professionals working together successfully, and in an article for website Daily Worth, freelance writer Nancy Mann Jackson briefly writes about her own positive experience working with her husband and friends.
Jackson is a freelance writer, who started working as a community college teacher in an effort to support herself and continue pursuing her passion as a writer. In her article, she writes that aside from her two jobs, her and her husband also collaborated with each other and with friends.
She states that “over the years we [Jackson and her husband] have earned ongoing income from rental properties, my husband’s farming hobby and partnering with a friend to sell wholesale merchandise on eBay, in addition to our primary businesses”.
Jackson is a prime example of how working with other multi-professionals can be extremely effective. And as she demonstrated, if you join forces and all contribute different skills, then you can create a really profitable business venture- whatever it may be.
Another great thing about collaborating is that there are so many different ways to do it. If you’re not interested in sharing your business, you don’t have to- because with schemes like “coworking”, you now have the opportunity to share work spaces or employees with other like minded entrepreneurs.
This can be a great way to cut down on costs for your business, and work alongside similar multi-professionals and business savvy individuals. In fact, according to DeskMag’s Global Coworking Survey, the benefits are beyond administrative. In fact statistics indicated that “Coworking”, or collaborating with other professionals, resulted in 71% of respondents saying “their creativity had increased” and 62% saying that “their standard of work had improved”.
However, as well as collaborating in their own business ventures, people are also using preexisting companies as entrepreneurial opportunities.
The rise of companies like Uber and Lyft, which offer people the opportunity to become freelance drivers, means that more and more people can easily use their spare time to find an extra source of income and therefore master a new profession.
Companies like Uber and Lyft are especially popular alternatives, because they allow flexibility. With Uber, you can manage your own schedule and, according to their website, “simply get on the road and start accepting requests” when you’re available.
This means that even if you’re already working one or two jobs, if you set aside a portion of your spare time, then you can quickly add a third source of income to your life and become even more financially independent- without being contractually obligated to do so.
This is a pretty popular line of thought, and in an article for website Building Financial Freedom, entrepreneur John Green discusses the benefits and drawbacks of driving for companies like Uber.
He concludes that these freelance opportunities “can be good way for certain types of people to make some money in their spare time without committing to another full time job” and agrees that “Uber or Lyft are an attractive option to make some money on the side”.
Multi-professionalism isn’t limited to freelancing, however, and if you prefer a more reliable source of income then you can easily find part time jobs (especially in the service sector) that you can use as an extra source of income. The opportunities are endless, and Sean Cooper, for example, recently told LearnVest that he works as both a full time pension analyst and a weekend meat-department clerk at a supermarket. And this is just one example of the many different combinations that multi-professionals can experiment with.
Is it stressful?
While the benefits of multi-professionalism are evident, experts can also agree that it isn’t always easy. Working multiple jobs, or trying to specialize in different areas can sometimes be tiring and stressful.
In fact, in an article for online magazine Inc, freelance writer Jessica Stillman highlights the sometimes harsh realities of having multiple careers. She states “the approach isn’t without its difficulties, maintaining focus and avoiding exhaustion being a couple of the obvious ones”.
This is definitely a consideration, because obviously working a full time job, plus a part time one, plus freelancing on the side can prove problematic. However, many experienced multi-professionals seem to agree that this can be resolved with some nifty time management. What’s important is that you don’t schedule your work back to back, and that you learn your limits early on.
It’s also worth considering that freelance work in particular has that element of uncertainty, which can actually prove beneficial for multi-professionals. The constantly changing work load means that you’re sometimes left with a relatively small amount of work, and this can be helpful in times of high stress.
What’s more, with freelance work, you can usually choose how to structure your workload. Once you’ve established a good clientele, you not only have the option of accepting or rejecting work, but you also have the freedom to negotiate deadlines.
This, combined with the changing distribution of freelance work, can be really refreshing.
Which, as well as listing the benefits of “slash careers”, is what Kate Hamill reassuringly reminds us in her article. According to Hamill “when the frequency of gigs temporarily lightens up in one field, it increases in another” which can “keep [us] from getting bored and restless”.
Overall, the general consensus seems to be that in an unstable and truly unpredictable economy, having one job is no longer a luxury many people can afford. Even if you are fortunate enough to earn a single salary that can sustain your lifestyle, most people have financial or personal goals that they are working towards, and that necessitate multiple incomes.
But what’s really important to remember is that multi-professionalism isn’t limited to one “type” of person. In this economy, just about anybody might necessitate a second or third job, or specialty, to reach financial freedom- and with a little creativity there’s no reason why this need can’t be turned into an opportunity for pleasure and success.