LearnSkills

“A single fixed identity is a liability today. It only makes people more vulnerable to sudden changes in economic conditions. The most successful and healthy among us now develop multiple identities, managed simultaneously, to be called upon as conditions change.” – Gail Sheehy, New Passages: Mapping Your Life Across Time

After reading One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Work Model for Work/Life Success, the once overwhelming and seemingly unfeasible concept of multiple professions turned into an attainable, practical, and unifying option in life. Author Marci Alboher is proof of living out a “Slash Career.” Upon leaving a career in law, she is a regular contributor to the New York Times, as well as a renowned speaker and writing coach. The book is chock-full of real life examples of the journey to slash careers and guidelines to follow when considering a slash for yourself. To start off, here’s a list of some featured slash-ers and their chosen professions.

Dan Milstein, computer programmer/theater director
Karl Hampe, management consultant/aspiring cartoonist
Grace Lisle-Hopkins, Assistant Dean of Admissions/photographer
Robert Sudaley, teacher/real estate developer
Sally Hogshead, branding expert/author/consultant

GROWING A SLASH

The people in Alboher’s book did not find the way to their slash(es) all in the same way. It’s different for everybody. Sometimes people have a solid foundation or experience in one thing, such as having a degree in a certain major and getting a job in that field. Having that background, they are able to sustain themselves financially while garnering more skills for a second career. Think of this as already having a tree to live in, but then planting a new seed right next to it, watering it as it grows. You’re preparing and consistently attending to this second interest. “Watering the seed” can look like taking photography or writing classes on the side, training for yoga instructor certification, or spending weekends traveling and blogging on a personal site.

These side projects are essential to growth because you can choose the amount of hours you spend cultivating your slashes and can tweak your journey if you realize certain aspects aren’t working. Alboher sums this up well when she explains that “the place that something occupies in your life – the paycheck, the gratifier, the giveback, the passion – is all up to you. In a slash career, you can control what goes where.” Forming multiple identities through slashes is in your hands. The choice to add or subtract slashes can allow you to feel more in control of your biggest interests. You’re testing out a menu of careers before you order.

USING A SLASH TO CHANGE

Sometimes slashes help people transition from one job to the other, even if they are completely different. Two things every transitioning slash-er needs: 1) Self-awareness and 2) Preparedness. This is especially true for individuals who have started careers that are time-sensitive. For example, athletes and dancers cannot and should not rely on their physical abilities to sustain them forever. Pursuing slashes during their starting careers will safeguard the switch. And before you think otherwise, it can be done. Tim Green, former NFL player for the Atlanta Falcons, worked on earning a law degree during his off-seasons. It took him eight years, but he did it and secured post-football work. He has also written best-selling suspense novels so if you need a slashing muse, he’s a good fit.

LITTLE SLASH NOW, BIG SLASH LATER

“The fact that an opportunity presents itself isn’t enough of a reason to take it on. It has to fit in with the rest of what you want to be doing. At that moment.” Alboher talks about the importance of being aware of a slash’s place in the now. Let’s say someone is an accountant or lawyer, but they volunteer as a firefighter or police officer on evenings and weekends. Volunteering may be the only channel at this time to successfully balance the slashes. However, upon retirement, placing more precedence on community safety will be the best time for that commitment. The different stages in life are wonderful places to revisit slashes. It’s an on-going path so there is no need to feel confined in how or when you add or change careers.

GET STARTED

Alboher urges her readers to think about their lives and distinguish their anchors and orbiters. An anchor is what she defines as a job that you’re getting your health insurance from, or a steady income, or a place that requires you to show up in person or travel on behalf of a company. Orbiters are the slashes that you find are able to orbit the anchor activities. She shares that typical orbiters could be writing, building websites, or anything that can be done at any time of day.

Now it’s your turn. Create a simple chart with a Column A (anchors) and Column B (orbiters). Writing out this list is the first step into the world of slashing.

The slash is a reminder that there are no excuses to limit yourself. It is also a call to action, to reflect on what you want the big picture of your life to look like and to work through the details now. If you’re seeking wholeness or dynamism in your work/life, living out a slash may be just what you need.

Image: Unsplash

Education

fall supplies 2014

‘Tis the season for going back to school, and we all know what that means: new school supplies. Start your semester off on the right foot with these handy notebooks, planners, and tools. Don’t start your new classes without these seven necessities:

1. Big Monthly Planner – A big calendar made for big plans and big dreams. Mark all of your important dates, and never miss a meeting, class, or event again.

2. Thought Cloud Sticky Notes – Have a brilliant idea? Write it down! Don’t want to forget something brilliant your teacher said? Note it.

3. Moleskine Classic Notebook – Take notes, write down your to-do’s, and jot down your ideas and accomplishments.

4. Sharpie Chisel Assorted 8 Pack – When you want to make a statement, do so in a big and colorful way. Sharpies are perfect for labeling, notes, and crossing things off of your to-do list!

5. Pencil Case – A durable pencil case will hold your statement Sharpies, writing tools, school ID, and anything else you need for class. We like the handle at the end for easy access from your backpack.

6. Camelbak Water Bottle – You all know very well that water is incredibly important. Stay hydrated throughout your classes, sports practices, and after-school clubs with a reusable water bottle.

7. Lime Green Streamer Binder – Your backpack can get pretty packed. Avoid wasting time searching for specific class binders and just assign patterns and colors to each class. This binder definitely stands out.

Image: Laiwan Ng, Flickr (edited)

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As Online Content Lead at General Assembly, Candace Williams has a lot of responsibility. She keeps the content moving along, interacts with all of her teams, and has long days that vary in tasks. After spending time earning her Masters in teaching from Stanford and then becoming a teacher, Candace knows quite a bit about education. Paired with her love for technology, Candace is a perfect fit as an Online Content Lead. Candace advises to not stay on one path, to take advantage of opportunities, and to hustle hard. We are inspired by Candace’s work ethic and her passion for both teaching and learning. 

Name: Candace Williams
Age: 27
Education: Bachelor of Arts from Claremont McKenna College, Master of Arts/Teaching Credential from Stanford University
Follow: Twitter / General Assembly

How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?

Seizing your youth means trying new things and hustling hard on something. Even if it doesn’t work out, try new things and learn about yourself. Be willing to push the envelope.

What did you major in at Claremont McKenna College (CMC) and how did you determine what to study?

I applied to Claremont McKenna College for the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) program. I loved the tutorials, and the amount of writing that we did upped my writing skills. PPE was one of the main reasons why I applied to CMC.

Did you study abroad? What was your big takeaway from studying abroad and do you think it was worth it?

I didn’t study abroad, but I worked abroad a lot.

Where did you intern and how did you go about securing those internships?

I have interned at a lot of places. My first internship was during the school year at Claremont McKenna College. I did tutoring and was a lab tech and resident tech assistant. During the summer, I worked for my Congressman at his campaign office in my state. I got that internship through CMC’s career services. I looked through the postings, applied, and they gave me a stipend and class credit.

The second summer, I was a teacher at a juvenile detention facility, and CMC gave me another stipend and a fellowship. I wrote papers and got some class credit. After that, CMC gave me a grant to work in India for human rights work.

I graduated the following summer and went straight into my teaching program.

candace1

What were you doing before General Assembly?

I was in social media, so basically I was paid to be on Facebook and Twitter all day. Before that I was an elementary school teacher and I taught K-5 science in the south Bronx. Before that I went to grad school while teaching at the same time. I have a Masters in teaching.

You are an Online Content Lead for General Assembly. What does being an Online Content Lead mean?

It means that I am an instructional designer. I make sure that what we put out online really helps people learn. I also help source instructors and I am like the glue that holds our teams together. There are a lot of teams that put our content together. There are video teams, the design team, marketing efforts, and I am the person who keeps the content moving along.

What does a day in your life look like?

It really depends. What I really love about this job is that it is so flexible. Yesterday I was in Washington D.C. I got up at 5:30am, went to Penn Station, and took the three hour train to D.C. I met with people there, filmed at the New America Foundation, hopped back on the train, and got home around 8pm.

The day before that I was at work filming something until 9pm. During the day I have a lot of meetings and we talk about the redesign of the website. Sometimes I come in early, sometimes I come in late. It really just depends.

What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be an online content lead/producer do to set themselves up for success?

The number one thing is to hustle hard and work hard and to seek out different opportunities. I wouldn’t get trapped in one path. It may seem like everyone is doing the same thing, such as finance or going to the same college, but I would actually look for things to do that are different and that are off the beaten path so you can learn about yourself. People will take notice.

I never imagined that I would be an online content lead, but it really fits my experience because I’m passionate about tech and teaching. When you’re passionate about something, those jobs and opportunities will open up, but you have to show that you are passionate. You have to find the right opportunities.

If you were hiring an intern, what are the top 3 traits that you would look for?

1. Working hard. That doesn’t even mean staying at work until it is late, it just means doing a task and doing it well.

2. Collaboration. I want people who work well with others.

3. Being a fun, nice person to work with. At work you should be able to enjoy spending time with people.

You’ve been out of school for five years. How did you transition from college life to “the real world?”

I think school life is real. If you’re creating the right life for yourself at college, it should be hard and it should mean staying up late and working. I feel like the things that I did at school were not that different than what I do now. At school, I was waking up early and going to work and working on a lot of different projects. I had a lot of deadlines and worked with many people. Be flexible and realize that you’re going to be terrible at a lot of things.

You went to the Stanford University School of Education. Where does your interest in education come from?

I’ve always been into education, even in elementary school and middle school. I always tutored kids and had an interest in education. I’m very passionate about it.

How did you decide where to go to grad school?

I care about education so I took some classes at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and it was going really well. When Stanford came to campus, I was on my way to England for a debate tournament. I had my big suitcase but I was the only one who showed up to meet them. I met the head of admissions and she was excited to meet me. They had to sell me on the program, like why would I go to a program that was more expensive?

It came down between Stanford and CGU, which are both great programs. For me, I realized that their ideology was the same about teaching so I decided that it was time to try something new and get out of Claremont.

What activities were you involved in throughout high school and college? Were there any experiences that were most memorable or life changing?

A lot. I was president of the tech association, editor of the paper, I played the bassoon, and I volunteered a lot. In college, I was involved in debate and tech. With debate, I started teaching kids who were new to debate. I started debate my first day of college.

What motivates you in your everyday life – at the office and/or during your personal time?

I like feeling like I’m making stuff that matters. I like to have fun and I like to be with friends and family. I like feeling like I’m connected to people.

Who is your role model?

My mom, of course. She’s awesome. She works very hard, she’s smart, and she works very well with kids.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Nothing. I made mistakes, but you just have to do it.