Building a Portfolio Career: Creating a Beautiful Mosaic of Diverse Experiences

Building a Portfolio Career: Creating a Beautiful Mosaic of Diverse Experiences
There is a lot out there to see and do.

 Anyone who knows me knows I have a lot of interests -- like a lot. Probably too many. There is actually a word for me: A multipotentialite: a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.

Professionally I've been a:

  • Disc Jockey
  • Philosophe
  • 6th Grade Teacher
  • Non Profit Consultant
  • Recruiter/Sourcer
  • Strategy Consultant
  • Brand Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Data Analyst
  • Demand Generation Manager
  • Product Marketer

 What I like to call, a portfolio career is a career path that involves working in multiple roles or industries over time all while having a sense of what your end goal is. What life-style you are trying to get to vs. a title in a specific industry.

 The beauty of a portfolio career is that it allows you to bring together the pieces of your life that might seem disparate and unrelated at first glance. When you look back on your career, you might see that the skills you learned in one job or industry helped you excel in another (for me that was having to teach 6th graders and keep their attention all while they had very little interest in listening to me), or that the hobbies you pursued outside of work led you to discover a new passion or interest (I started a DJ business in high school and that taught me how to get rejected... a lot).

 When I was younger, I was always told to A) follow one path, B) stick to it C) Work hard and then at the end of it all you'll have a fulfilling career.  So that's what I tried to do. I decided Philosophy was my path after undergrad. I went all in. I wrote and published a paper at Cambridge, and I was well on my way to a PhD. program. BUT. I found out I really hated working in isolation. Truthfully I'm struggling to write this one blog post -- but I will carry on! I just really enjoy spending time and collaborating with people.

 In the summer of 2011, I decided to listen to my inner self and pursue teaching, instead of Philosophy. I joined Teach for America in 2013 and loved what I did. Fast forward a decade, and I am a Product Marketing leader at Meta, and I love the work I am doing now! When I look back at my career, I am so glad I took risks, tried a bunch of stuff, and filled the skills and experiences gaps where I had them -- I still have plenty.

 Creating a portfolio career requires a willingness to embrace uncertainty and to take risks. It means being open to exploring new opportunities, even if they don't fit into a neat career path, or your "should do" path. All of the roles, companies, etc. you "should work in/at." It means building a network of contacts and colleagues who can help you navigate the twists and turns of your career. And it means being willing to look for the connections between seemingly unrelated experiences, and to use those connections to build a career that is uniquely yours.
In sum, I am thrilled I brought my head up every few years and re-evaluated what it is I was working on. I am all for deep SME, and thought leaders, and the rest. I just know that for me it was important for me to build a career that included several experiences along the way.