By Kelsey Manning
I never thought anything was unusual about my current working situation until I explained it to my dad: “Well, I’m working at Hachette Monday through Thursday 9-5, I do work for Kate White on the commute back and forth, during my lunch break, and on Fridays, and I write for Levo and The Gloss (plus my own blog, for which I don’t pay myself) at nights and on the weekends.” He goes, “Wow, welcome to the new economy.”
That got me thinking, and the man definitely has a point. Obviously, my particular situation is influenced by the realm in which I work. Freelance writing can be turned into a full-time profession, but for me currently, it’s more of a side job. That being said, there’s no doubt that I’m just one manifestation of a much bigger trend.
It seems like the fill-every-hour-of-the-day mindset underlying this change starts in high school and continues throughout college. You’re basically behind if you don’t play three sports and an instrument, have one paid job, a volunteer position, and an unpaid internship, sing in the choir, run for president of six different clubs, have a social life that makes people jealous on Facebook, and get perfect grades. (Kidding, but only a little.)
In college, I rarely had fewer than three jobs, and although that was on the high end, it certainly wasn’t uncommon. I prefer having many different projects at once, so it’s not surprising that trend has translated into my working life post-college. But, will it become the new norm?
I recently came across a post via Twitter called, “Why 9-5 Won’t Work For Millennials.” Much of it is problematic, but Mr. Carter does have a point in calling attention to the increasing fluidity in young professionals’ careers. “Temp,” “part-time,” “virtual,” and “freelance” are common responses amid “What are you up to?” conversations with recently graduated friends. That’s at least partially because full-time, full salary jobs are difficult to come by and — have you heard? — we’re in debt. But, it’s also because we’re a generation that’s used to juggling projects and interests and when you graduate, “part-time” is a great way to test the waters of different career paths. Nowadays, if you can pull it off, “freelance” can mean more money in fewer hours worked.
Millennial spokesperson Chelsea Krost recently tweeted the first piece in a series on Common Sense Millennial titled “Side Hustle Shuffle,” a topic which is second-nature to recent graduates. With a 30-hour-per-week job, I both write and do freelance social media consulting on the side. It seems as if everyone and their mother has a blog, and personal branding consumes more time than anyone would like to admit. One friend is doing some Uber driving after work and on the weekends. Another writes short stories. Another does freelance illustrations and has her own Etsy shop. Another does freelance copy editing. All of these are in addition to full-time jobs.
So yes, I have four jobs, and I feel like I’m becoming more of a rule than an exception.