Portfolio Career…. err, what do you do?!


I’ve been ruined by my first job. Well, technically it was the only “real” job I’ve ever had. This lasted from the ages of 22 – 25 before I went part-time at said job then freelancing. I did an undergrad of B.Com (Industrial Psychology) but never went on to become an Industrial Psychologist. It was never clear to me how many loops one needs to jump to become a professional and master in a field. I was a jack-of-all-trades in my first job, and with it being a start-up I was one of its first employees. When starting the job search in London I realized that I could not be neatly labeled in a particular category. I did not practice my field of study, and I did not hold a degree in lifelong learning about social change. The term intrapraneur has only started to surface in recent years and still comes up on my spellcheck when I type it.

On the side of being an employer, I can recognize that I will employ someone with certain qualities and a particular skills set. With the right attitude, I’ll even invest in the required knowledge. But whose responsibility is it to prepare staff for the “world out there” beyond this job? I’ve just had dinner with my friend Busi and tried to imagine looking for work. A wealth of over 10 years of diverse experience and I still can’t come up with that silver-bullet line or tick that would make a recruitment agency happy.

I see all sorts of interesting self-descriptions popping up on people’s signatures and at networking events they will introduce themselves using said description with a straight face. To avoid the risk of offending anyone, I will not give any examples. I do however wonder how these people find paying work.  In the time that innovation is trendy and it’s the age of holistic living and purpose-driven careers by all means, it’s great that we’re defining ourselves by words of our own choosing. But how do we lose the fluff and invite people into our awesomeness if they can’t understand what we’re all about? What we’re capable of?

I’m on a journey of learning how to communicate what I do in a mainstream way that allows people to access me. The term portfolio career has made its way into business schools. Perhaps those of us who do a-little-bit-of-this, a-little-bit-of-that stand a fighting chance now. But does this show that we’re multi-talented and entrepreneurial or just unfocused? Let’s think twice on how we package ourselves on this one.

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