Multiple Careers

Think of the common link for the following.

  • A movie actor who was a star in one of the all time great comedies.
  • An author of multiple books.
  • A cultural ambassador for the United States.
  • A human rights activist.
  • An NBA basketball star who at his retirement held the record for points scored, blocked shots, defensive rebounds, and games won.

The common link?  All of these are the same person:  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  One person, many careers may seem to be a rarity, but persons having multiple careers are becoming more common today.  Some of these multiple careers are due to economic necessity when the income from one job is insufficient.  Others result from the need to pursue a passion while earning a living.  In Kareem’s case, when his basketball career was over, he decided to explore other ways he could make a contribution.

Multiple careers can be simultaneous or sequential.  Think of an engineer who is responsible for designing production lines as one career.  He may also be involved in a jazz band on the weekends.  That’s an example of simultaneous dual careers.  In another case, a business executive takes early retirement to serve his religious faith as a missionary.  That’s an example of sequential multiple careers.

It’s healthy to think about multiple career paths.  It’s difficult to get excited about pursuing one career for 35-40 years.  For young persons, it’s important to realize that they continue to pursue a passion while also using their academic talent to get a degree that will lead to a rewarding career.

Many entrepreneurs have had multiple careers.  They start working in an existing business to prepare themselves both financially and developmentally to launch their own business.

When a person envisions themselves having a second career, this can also be of benefit to their current employer. Thinking about a second career can minimize the chances of a burnout because the individual remains excited about their future.  The individual is also open to new experiences which they might be able to use in the future.  However, concurrent careers can be a problem if the second career interferes with the first one or creates a conflict of interest.

As individuals, we need to think of our careers as an occupational journey which reflects both our skills, talent, and passions.  Business guru, Charles Handy, describes this as having a portfolio life.  Having multiple careers in effect changes how we see ourselves and how others see us.

* * *

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

– Nelson Mandela

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.