What is a Portfolio Career and Should You Want One?

Slashers aren’t just the baddies in gory horror movies. The term has come to apply to a new (ish) type of person who doesn’t have just one career, but manages to balance several. You know the type – the programmer/writer/photographer/teachers of the world.

For the right person, this type of career can be extremely rewarding, both personally and financially. If you find yourself bored to tears by a regular nine-to-five – what a way to make a livin’! – and prefer to spread yourself across a variety of different types of projects, then maybe a portfolio career is for you.

For many people, the problem with having just one job is that it’s very limiting in terms of identity and talent exploration. Most of us have a wide variety of passions and interests, which can be difficult to indulge when you have to fit them around a full-time job, and that little thing called life.

By having a portfolio of different projects and a variety of diverse income streams, you can stretch yourself in many different ways without having to slave away during your evenings. What you lack in the security of a fixed contract, you gain from having several backup jobs and sources of income should one of them go pear-shaped.

Indeed, many people who originally started to build portfolio careers did so due to economic necessity. The loss of a job, or the need to make extra income pushed people to think more creatively about how to manage their working lives.

But portfolio careers don’t always come from financial necessity. Many people are choosing this way of life as a means of keeping themselves engaged, motivated and excited about what they do. For those who want to do work they love, in a way that they can arrange around their desired lifestyle, it’s a perfect solution.

People with itchy feet that need to travel frequently are also ideal contenders for portfolio careers. By not having to squeeze your time off into fixed contractually agreed leave days, you can mix travel and work easily.

That’s not to say however, that a portfolio career is a panacea to all your working woes, or your boredom. Piecing together a career from lots of different sources isn’t an easy path, and you need to be immensely proactive to keep projects coming, and to get noticed by the right people.

But if you tend to get cabin fever from spending every day at the same desk, and if you are self-motivated and highly-organised, then maybe it’s something you should consider!

Carrie M. King

Carrie M. King

Carrie M. King is the Editor of the Journal by Jobspotting. Hailing originally from smack-bang in the middle of Ireland, she moved to Berlin in 2014 to join the gang at Jobspotting. Carrie previously worked in journalism and literature. If you want to share thoughts or ideas, get in touch: carrie@jobspotting.com