One lifetime, multiple careers

Last year when I was unemployed I went to a lot of networking events.  Although it was the dead of winter, I liked going to these events because I met such a variety of people. Most notably, I met a ton of “slashes”– people who employed in one sector, but have a side hustle doing something they are way more passionate about than their day job.

New York City is full of “slashes” as in people who are  “waiters/actresses”, or  “finance analysts/ writers”.   No one here really only has one gig.  We live in the city of the side hustle.

I was thinking about all of this (side hustles, career transitions, and second career options) because of an article I read in the New York Times last week about Afghan girls who dress as boys until puberty if their parents don’t have a son.  Wondering why this made me think of career stuff?

Well, the piece focused on many aspects of these girls’ lives, but the bit that caught my attention was a quote from a 15-year old girl discussing her future career plans. She said she wants to be a journalist, then possibly a politician.

It was the “then” that totally caught my eye. I thought back to when I was a child who wanted to be an artist, then an actress. Or a writer, then a psychologist. I’m sure if you think back on your childhood, you might have a similar story.  After finishing the article, my question to myself, and to anyone reading this is: When did we stop thinking that way? When did we start believing that we could only have one career? That we have to give one notion all we’ve got, and if it doesn’t work, we fail?

I think it is totally possible to have one career, then transition to the next. These days, it might be necessary to think in those terms.  Why not think about your second career while you are still planning and plotting for the first?

I work in the media industry. I love the media, and journalism, and the multiple facets it represents, but I would be foolish not to acknowledge that the industry is a little shaky these days. We are in the midst of a transition, and it is impossible to see the end result. But when the dust settles, we’ve still got skills that can be used somewhere else in a different way.  This applies to every profession.

When you think about what you want your second career to be, ask yourself  about the things that attracted you to your first one, or if you want to do a total 360, ponder the things that interest you now.

I’ve read a lot of career books, many of which are aimed at Gen Y’ers. Most of these books include exercises that are supposed to help you get in tune with what you really want to do, but  I think the most important thing any twentysomething can do is open themselves up to the idea of having multiple careers that span multiple industries. You too can be a nurse, then a writer! Why the heck not?

Have you made a career transition, or have one in mind? I’d love to hear you ideas 🙂 And if you are curious about reading the article that spawned this post, check it out here:  Afghan Boys are Prized, So Girls Play the Part


  1. utsavazur26 says:

    I trained as computer engineer, got my first job as a business analyst, continued as a commercial manager in the luxury hotel development industry. The shift from computing to finance was not planned, but welcome. I enjoyed learning about finance, meeting new people and going to places. I made the most of visiting new places, enjoying the local culture and food. I enjoyed leaving the old paradigm of thought to embrace a new one.However, lately, there is a feeling of being chained to the corporate desk, with ideas are not getting valued and work under appreciated. There seems to be a format for a ‘model’ employee, and if you don’t fit, you are out!This sucks, and in my view, points to an archaic system  which is out of sync with the possibilities of today.

    • amberjadams says:

      @utsavazur26 Dude, I totally get you, and I totally agree! The “cube life’ can be creatively frustrated. I’ve seen people who seem to really enjoy their jobs, but for the most part, I think everyone wonders at least once if this is all there is.

  2. Aimee Theriault says:

    Amber Girl! Great post! Even though I haven’t seen you since our last Hanson Brothers run-in in NYC, I read your posts on the regular, and love hearing your voice in every message!

    This post especially inspried me because I am currently pursuing my very own “slash” life! In September I started beauty school to pursue my “slash” life of “writer”/”hair salon owner.” It’s not an easy schedule – working all day, and going to school at night – but I’m keeping my eye on the prize that AMAZING “SLASH” life I’m dreaming of….Salon Owner/Beauty Writer/Beauty Book Author/Beauty Blogger/Be my own boss!

    Looking forward to reading all of your future posts!!! ~A

    • amberinnyc says:

      Thank you Aimee!
      Your positive energy is perfect for a life of slashing! I remember how much you said you wanted to go to beauty school back when we were in Emmaus. I’m glad to see you are following your dreams!

  3. Yogi says:

    Well I’m still working on the “what do I want to be when I grow up?” bit…ha!! I’m working a JOB but soon enough I will actually be in my first career, video editor, which will lead to my 2nd career, actress! I plan to have a few side hustles, well let’s rephrase that, I intend to have a few successful side businesses in between my other careers! Bring on the slashes!! ha!

  4. Chan Tran says:

    Amber J,

    I love this post and it’s so true on many levels. I’m still wondering what I will be when I grow-up and if I have to do it all over again, the schooling and everything, I shall.

    Love you, kisses, see you next week!

  5. I would love to make a career switch or if not a switch – a way to cohesively bring all my varied interests together. If that makes any sense. I’m currently in Finance but in a dead end job, I love event planning, hair care, beauty, etc. For the longest time, I thought I had to pick one but more and more I’m finding out & learning that I can do more than one thing. My challenge though is that I’m married with a child, it’s a balancing act.

  6. Dave says:

    Spot on. I’m a lawyer right now, but I’m thinking about maybe going into operations next, then venture capital 😉

    • amberinnyc says:

      Go Dave!

      I think it is really interesting that you want to make a switch because law is definitely one of those old school professionals that you usually think of people having for life.
      Kudos to you for thinking outside the box!

  7. jessalyn says:

    Hmm, you’ve really given me something to think about. Teaching art and museum work come to mind right away but I’ll be chewing on this one for a while.

  8. I love this. New York in particular really is the side hustle capital. Even your side hustle has to have a side hustle in order to “make it.”

    I’m still on my first career but thinking of ways to use my current skills to transition to my second and maybe even third endeavor. For the older folks in my family, they have the mentality that you go to school for something and that’s your career for the rest of your life. I think our generation is more open to branching out.

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