How a Varied Career Path Can Translate to Entrepreneurship
Photo courtesy of 'Artotem'.

How a Varied Career Path Can Translate to Entrepreneurship

Written by Janet Brent

Topics: Entrepreneurship

Does your resume look as random as your interests? Having a varied career path isn’t something to be ashamed of. Sticking to one career isn’t the only option. In fact, having a random array of jobs and skills may even help translate into the many hats of entrepreneurship, particularly if you want to run an online or Renaissance Business. Here are just a few ideas.

Photography – I had a brief gig as a photography assistant at a trade show. This consisted of a crash course on photography. I learned how to set up lighting and a studio with green screen. I learned lighting techniques and how to work a 3D camera. The skills can translate well to lighting techniques for video blogging or taking photos.

Print Shop – Another job I had was managing a printshop for a company. They had one big client they were contracted to do print orders for and I was the one-woman shop handling it all. I learned how to essentially run a small business. Administrative skills. Tracking monthly reports. Bookkeeping. Printing. Customer service. I even got to train assistants and create standard operating procedures.

Fast Food – This was my first job. The typical fast food experience. You can learn multitasking, customer service and working at a fast-pace.

Singer/songwriter – If you’re cool enough to be a musical artist then chances are you have some charisma. Stage presence. This could translate well for video blogs, podcasting or even speaking engagements.

Retail – Retail jobs is like an entry into sales. The world of sales and marketing involves talking to people, giving them a pitch, being passionate about your product or brand and appealing to their emotions. You can learn marketing and sales tricks just by interacting with customers and can easily be translated into a business.

Graphic Design – I started out as a graphic designer/production artist for a souvenir company. I learned the ins and outs of in-house production and how to interact with vendors, or outside companies that would take our designs and place them on products such as water bottles, coffee mugs, tumblers, etc. If you ever go into business selling products, this is a handy skill to have. Being a graphic designer, I can also take on personal projects without having to hire a designer for my business. This means I have the ability to make my own e-books, e-zines, e-courses or other things that could push me forward as an online entrepreneur.

Receptionist – As a receptionist, you can learn administrative and computer skills as well as improving your typing speed. I’m a nerd when it comes to typing speed and love playing typing games or taking typing tests just to see how fast I can go. I average at around 85wpm and I have no doubt that this helps as a writer, blogger and all around multipassionate freelancer. You can also learn skills as an assistant that could translate into virtual assistant work.

Head Hunter – Head hunters are people who make unsolicited calls within a company and try to convince an employee to join a different company. It’s essentially another sales position but making cold calls, interacting with random strangers, and learning the psychology behind persuasion is an excellent skill that will translate well in entrepreneurship.

Web design – Having css/html knowledge and skill with WordPress makes you golden as an online entrepreneur. Coding is one of the best skills to have to keep you up to date and current with technology. My experience with web design means I can handle personal projects without having to hire out a developer. From launching an e-course, putting up a sales page, setting up an e-shop, or designing the email newsletter, the versatile skills as a web designer gives me an advantage when it comes to creating my own products and launching them.

Social Media Manager – Social media is a necessary skill for online entrepreneurship. Social media can help you engage with your target audience, or find your right clients. I had a brief gig as a social media manager for clients and learned how to manage multiple accounts, research and gather appropriate social media links for their target audience.

Putting it All Together

The current norm in career building is specialization and sticking to one career field. Career exploration isn’t a bad thing though and should be encouraged. With a multitude of skills, you can mix it into business building and be a strong jack-of-all-trades, which is required for starting a business.

Pick up skills, master them until you’re satisfied, and then drop the job or gig when it no longer suits you. Keep trying new things and being curious about whats out there. Being versatile gives you a different sort of advantage than being a specialist, and it makes you uniquely you.

Your Turn

What sorts of jobs have you had in your life? How has that helped on your path towards entrepreneurship?

janet_aboutJanet Brent is an intuitive graphic/web designer for creative, holistic and heart-based entrepreneurs. She’s interested in passionate people making positive change. Find her blogging on Purple Panda and on twitter @janetbrent.

13 Comments

  1. Lauren says:

    I’ve only had one full-time job (for 6 years) but in that time I was: graphics designer, web designer, artworker for print, web administrator, online marketer, general manager, photographer, SEOer, data analyser, project manager, technical support, customer support, copywriter, proof reader, blogger, business development strategist and sales manager.

    I left after I felt I finally wasn’t learning anything new.

  2. Great article! Over the many years of working, I’ve done so many different things (and read about so many more!)…lots of retail-including management, banking, fast food, marketing, teaching, raising kids, proofreading, special orders (books), tutoring, answering service operator (got a LOT faster typing!), running a small business…

    Now I’m at the point where I need the financial stability of a career-type job, and it always gets a bit discouraging to try and stitch up a nice-looking resume from all of that, to help others see what I have become as a result of all of that.

    Thanks for the encouragement :)

  3. Willi Morris says:

    I did a chat on this not too long ago on how to turn corporate failures into freelancing success. Having a resume that’s all over the place is really useful! I don’t even know how many jobs I’ve had LOL.

  4. Quiana says:

    I’ve been: sales person for retail, HR Rep, Budget Analyst, Camp Counselor, Preschool Teacher, Consultant, Owner of Natural Skincare and Makeup store, Trainer, Project Coordinator, and more.

    All in all I believe my theme is that I enjoy helping people. I found having jobs all over the place with different focuses has helped me better understand human behavior. I use each and every one of these job skills in some area of my business.

    Plus, it makes for an easy way to connect with people. I tend to get along great with people no matter what they do for a living.

  5. Andrea says:

    This site is a wonderful breath of fresh air!

    My path has taken me through film (from feature development intern to filmmaker, producer, editor, writer, and more), to commercial property management, high-tech, start-up, founding a video editing business, a social entrepreneurial endeavor with technology consulting, law, and legal scholarship.

    Currently, I’m a professional mediator with my own practice (chose not to practice law) and a technology consultant/social entrepreneur (love the balance).

    Without question, synthesizing all of these experiences, interests, and skills has helped me deliver so much more value to clients. For instance, helping develop creative solutions in mediations is a critical benefit that (logical) legal skill alone could never deliver.

    The prevailing culture generally does not recognize or value a range of experiences, skills, or interests. And, hyper-specialization stymies breakthrough innovation. However, being a multipotentialite is a great foundation for entrepreneurship. Integrating many of my interests has been key to experiencing a degree of career satisfaction that I had been seeking for decades. It’s just so interesting how I never realized it until I accumulated some life.

    Holistic thought truly is the next frontier (from academia to business) so take heart that your contributions to the world are indeed moving us one step further.

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks so much for the comment, Andrea! It’s great to hear about your background and the work you’ve designed that allows you to use and integrate your various skills and interests. I too studied law but choose not to practice, yet I find that I use the analytical reasoning skills I acquired in my writing a lot. I also have a good friend from law school who’s very involved in mediation work and it sounds super interesting (and yes, extremely interdisciplinary).

      I don’t know if you’d be open to it, but I would love to talk to you more in depth sometime. I’m doing research for my next book (simply entitled “Multipotentialite”) and I think you’d be a great example/case study. What do you say?

      Emilie

Leave a Comment