I have just finished reading the book “One Person / Multiple Careers” by Marci Alboher, a contributor to the New York Times. I bought this book because, as the author, I know a growing number of people who accumulate several different professional carrers. Besides the traditional division work/private life , there are now more complex combinations: teacher / manager / researcher / consultant / etc. This book calls this the “slash” effect where each different career is a “slash”.
This multitude of roles is not new: the Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, already had his heteronyms. What is new is its generalization to a growing number of professionals. According to the author, this generalization is due not only with the increasing entrepreneurship spirit, but also to a need for personal fulfilment that goes beyond the limits imposed of the traditional job. The “slash” effect can originate in an attempt for financial autonomy, in a volunteer activity, or in a hobby that turns into something more than that.
This effect differs from a traditional career change since slashes do not abandon their initial vocation, but they extend it. The various “slashes” are developed in parallel and often complement each other as in the case of writer / teacher / speaker / consultant that can go with any other kind of work. The book deals with the various conflicts and difficulties in the management of the multiples slashes (employers, business cards, curricula, time management, etc.). The author interviewed several people who she presents as examples and describes the solutions that they have adopted. This kind of professional life has the advantage of being more adaptable to an ever-changing world in which the labour market can change radically in a few months. If a given “slash” has less demand, the person can develop one of the other slashes.
Not being an extraordinary book, it shows us a possibility for what could a professional life be in the future.