Double Duty: How to Start a Second Career While You’re Still on Your First
Talk of a second career for students may seem premature. But honestly, we don’t think so. There are tons of benefits to having a second career and to planning for it now rather than later.
In the following article, we’ll be discussing why that is, as well as the easiest ways to get started. We’ll also demonstrate how having two pursuits might keep you sane and lead to greater earning potential than if you simply excelled at one thing. Let’s begin!
What Are the Benefits of Dual Careers?
We should probably back up for a bit and talk about what we mean when we say “second career.” What we’re actually talking about is a dual career. One that runs simultaneously to your main career. Not what you’re going to do after your main career wraps up.
Dual careers have a lot of benefits. Let’s take a look at each one.
Working two careers at once will obviously result in more money. How much more money depends on a couple of factors, mainly time and results.
How much do you want to put into your second career? What will the return on investment be? You will never know the answers to these questions until you roll up your sleeves and start collecting data on it.
But it stands to reason that if you’re finding ways of making money at two things, you’re going to be better off than if you only made money from one of those things. Duh.
Freedom may not exactly seem like a benefit of having two careers. After all, aren’t you just having to do more to make ends meet than if you had a job you left behind every night?
Well, yes and no. Yes, in the sense that it’s going to take some time to establish yourself in both fields. No, in the sense that once you get a system down, you’ll make more money with less time commitments in both areas.
Furthermore, the earning potential of both fields means you’re not always reliant on one over the other. But we may be getting ahead of ourselves on that point, as it speaks more to benefit number three, which is:
Having all your eggs in one job basket makes you vulnerable. While it can seem secure to have a job that “takes care of you,” the reality is that if one thing turns, your entire source of support is in jeopardy.
But if you have a second career that is helping to either fully take care of you or supplement your income, then it’s easier to endure unexpected setbacks with the other endeavor.
This allows you to live more fearlessly in both jobs, and thus do better work. That doesn’t mean you disregard rules and culture and morés. But it does mean you get to be yourself. And that’s your only true ticket to long-term success.
They Complement One Another
The word is “complement,” not “compliment.” The latter is when you say something nice about someone. The former is more transitive. Skills in one field help you perform better in the other and vice versa.
Finding careers that use the same skills and approaches and mindsets can greatly enhance your success across the board. You just have to notice how the two feed into one another.
They Prevent Burnout
When you get heavily involved in one career, it can be easy to lose yourself in it. That may take you further in that particular career, but it also can lead to you getting burned out and eventually you’re searching for something else to complete you.
A well-defined second career can prevent you from taking opportunities that maybe you shouldn’t be taking (at least not right away). It helps you control how meteoric your rise in one field becomes, in other words. Why’s that a good thing?
Because sometimes you seize opportunities before you’re ready for them mentally or emotionally. As a result, it demands too much, too early and leads you out of the career as quickly as it led you up the ladder.
Where to Find a Second Career
So it may feel a little overwhelming when it comes to finding a second career if you haven’t yet discovered your first. But it’s not as hard as you think, and in this section, we’re going to give you some quick and actionable steps you can take to get the ball rolling.
So long as you’re focused on your first priority — discovering what it is you want to do “with the rest of your life” (yeah, right) — you shouldn’t have any issues. Here are our suggestions.
1. Start with Your First Career
Think about what it is that you really want to do with your life. What are you going to school for? What are your strong subjects? What about the subjects you’re going to need to be good at in order to excel?
In many ways, your first career will inform your second. It will highlight opportunities that exist. The main functions of your first career may not leave a lot of time to address those issues on-the-job. But they do offer the opportunity for further exploration away from the daily operations of Career 1.
2. Examine Your Hobbies
Some people prefer to move further away from their mainline career when it comes to finding a second. The reason for this is understandable. If the second career is too much like the first, it can lead to burnout in both areas (see above).
Getting more heavily involved in a hobby seems like a good workaround. Plus, since it’s a hobby, it’s something you’d rather be doing anyway. It only stands to reason that finding ways to make money at it will pay off. Just be careful that you don’t get so into the money-making aspects that it kills your love of what brought you to the hobby in the first place.
Some pastimes seem like a lot of fun until you’re tasked with turning them profitable. At that point, a new set of stressors can be introduced, and those can make you see your “hobby” in a more negative light.
3. Look at Combining a Strength with a Want
Do something you’re good at! Do something you feel passionate about! Do something you’ve always wanted to do!
These all seem like great ideas, and they are. But sometimes you may lack the knowledge or skill-set to be impactful in a particular area. That’s where combining your interest with something you’re good at makes the second career feasible.
For example, let’s say you’ve always wanted to be an artist. But your skills as an artist aren’t very good and your skills as an accountant are top-notch. In such a scenario, you might take your day-to-day job of being an accountant and give it a direct application to working with professional artists to help manage their business affairs.
It may not be the glamorous way that you wanted to work in and around the art world. But it gives you an “in” that’s worth exploring while allowing you to create value using your existing strengths in a more focused way.
4. Become a Continuous Learner
If you’re having trouble finding a second career, then it’s probably due to a shortage in some area involving knowledge and skill. Luckily, that’s easily rectifiable. We live in an age where we have access to more knowledge at our fingertips than any previous generation.
You can shave off years of learning curve thanks to the Internet, particularly through forms of technology like YouTube and eBooks. Up-to-date knowledge you can take with you anywhere and everywhere you go! Use your downtime to brush up and clarify things you need to know to become viable in a potentially money-making field.
And if it seems like too steep of a curve, start a little smaller. Don’t aim for something like astrophysics. Go with some piece of low-hanging fruit that you can grasp and make money at immediately (virtual assistant for example).
Another way of finding a viable second career is to look at what you DO in the commission of your first career and find a way of TEACHING OTHERS how to do it. Creating an online course or tutoring someone a few levels below your skill level and expertise is a great way of generating income beyond what your day-to-day paycheck provides. Take advantage of that!
6. Partner with Someone
So maybe the gap between where you are and where you need to be is too steep to overcome in the amount of time you’re hoping to overcome it. No biggie. Find someone to partner with who supplements your shortcomings.
Two heads are certainly better than one in this regard. You just have to find someone that’s easy to work with, and someone for whom you can be easy to work with. The personal dynamic is so important to business relationships, so keep that in mind before jumping too quickly into something.
7. Become a Farmer
No, not an actual farmer. (Well, unless that’s your thing.) What we mean by “farmer,” is this. Learn to farm out your second career to someone who can handle the day-to-day grind.
That means you may have to pay someone or barter the skills needed to handle certain aspects of your second career. But if you’re successful in Career One, then it’s easier to justify doing this. It essentially can be seen as an investment in yourself. And that’s never a bad idea!
A Simultaneous Second Career Can Be a Great Path
If you follow the second career path, then you can earn more money, enjoy greater flexibility and freedom, and find two jobs that ignite your passions each and every day of your life. It’s worth exploring, and with the role technology will continue to play in outsourcing and automation, it could even be considered a necessity.
What are some second career ideas that you have your eyes on? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Hallie Crawford]