By Mia Casey
Let’s face it guys, the world isn’t what it used to be. We’re hopping jobs and changing careers left, right and centre (on average, up to 4 times within your first decade out of uni), and for each role we’re in it’s likely we’ll be expected to have skills that span at least two other industries. What’s a millennial to do?
And with this shift to changing jobs, it’s unsurprising that more and more people are finding themselves struggling with answering the question: “what do you want to be when you grow up?” How can you choose just one thing when there are so many options? And with education starting to move to a more transdisciplinary focus, the number of industries you touch on and learn about is on the rise, increasing the likelihood that you’ll develop broader interests. So, is it okay to move away from specialising in one field and one industry?
Is it okay to work across industries?
The short answer is yes. The longer, and slightly more complicated answer, is that not only is it okay but it may actually be preferable in a huge number of fields (and for an even huger number of people). Developing skills across a number of fields can give you a unique insight into innovating old processes, solving new problems, and creating new ideas – all brilliant skills that a ton of companies are on the lookout for.
Emilie Wapnick, a writer, artitst, and career coach who talks about this very issue on her website, recently did a TED Talk on what she calls, ‘the multipotentialite’. She uses this term to describe a person who has multiple interests and creative pursuits, and goes on to discuss the ‘superpowers’ these individuals have. Check out her Talk below:
What it means to be a multipotentialite
Basically, being a multipotentialite may feel a little isolating – that 9-to-5, same day everyday slog may not be a relatable reality for you – but it gives you some advantages that others may not recognise.
Unique skill set
First, following your passions across a number of fields means that you develop a unique set of skills (like Liam Neeson in Taken, but less kill-y), that can give you a deeper insight into new issues that arise. You used to work with data, but now you want to try your hand at marketing? Great, you’ll be able to understand how to track campaigns, monitor results, and look for new solutions to optimise your results to suit the KPIs you’re trying to meet. BAM! Your background in an entirely different field has helped you!
Create new things
It also gives you the opportunity to create new and exciting products or ways of doing things that span across multiple industries, that people without your skills may not have thought of before. This can be particularly helpful if you’re thinking of starting your own business or doing freelance work, as it sets you apart from your competitors, means you have a broader range of expertise, and can help you understand different issues your clients may face.
More adaptable and a faster learner
Emilie also points out that being a multipotentialite often means that you’re both more adaptable and likely to be a faster learner. If you’re in the practice of trying your hand at new skills on a semi-regular basis, then you’ve been training your brain to be open and adaptive to learning new abilities. Plus, you’re used to starting back at square one, as Emilie puts in, so finding yourself a bit lost or out of your comfort zone is something you’re used to.
Live your best life
And finally, pursuing a career as a multipotentialite means that you’re following your passions without having to curtail your attention to focus on one particular topic every day. You can #liveyourbestlife day in day out!
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash