For five years after college, Amanda Leslie—now Assistant to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Drexel University—always juggled at least two jobs at once, if not more. She’d majored in history in school, and it was a smooth ride until the end of her senior year, when she started thinking about what she’d do after graduation.
“My only real goal was to not move back in with my parents,” Leslie explains. “Ideally, I wanted an educator role at a history museum, but salaried positions are hard to find in that industry. So, I searched non-stop online for a job and found an instructor position at The Handwork Studio,” a camp that teaches kids how to knit, weave, sew, embroider, and more.
“It’s my favorite job I’ve ever had,” she says. “There was this amazing community of women (including my bosses, Laura and Julia) who supported each other both professionally and personally. We all worked together really well, and it provided me with tons of skills and knowledge that allowed me to grow as a young adult and professional.”
But, it was only for the summer. So, after that, she picked up a gig as an educator at an aviation museum and one as a personal assistant to a woman who needed help with random tasks, such as organizing her garage or sorting through her junk mail.
Some other titles Leslie has under her belt? Tuition coordinator, finance assistant, after-school program director, library associate, curriculum director, and, oh—she’s a professional genealogist, too.
“As long as I enjoyed what I was doing and could pay my rent, I didn’t care what I did,” Leslie explains. Today, she’s employed full-time at Drexel, dabbles in genealogy on the side, and is pursuing her MBA. She’s hoping that her new expertise will allow her to land a job in human resources or operations at a company that has a mission she wants to support.
Read on to see what she’s learned from handling so many jobs at once and how she found the path she’s on today.
What Was the Hardest Thing About Having Multiple Jobs at Once?
The hardest part was the money. Even when you piece things together, you still don’t make as much as you would with something full-time. It was hard to see my friends make more money even though we put in the same number of hours. Plus, you don’t get benefits. As I got closer to turning 26 (and thus getting kicked off my parents’ insurance), that mattered more.
Tell Me a Bit About Your Work in Genealogy
I’ve been researching my own family’s genealogy with my dad since high school, and so shortly after I moved to Philly, I became a professional genealogist and joined the local chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). The people in my chapter are amazing “colleagues” and mentors to me. They’re so encouraging of the work I’m doing and are always happy to lend a hand when I need help.
I have about one client each month, and this allows me to pursue my interest in history without the stress of needing genealogy to pay the bills. I meet really interesting people from all over the world who’re interested in this topic, and I like that I can help them connect themselves to my city in some way, like if their ancestors ever moved here or passed through on their way somewhere else.
How Did Your Multiple Gigs Help You Find the Path You’re on Today?
Three years ago, I relocated to Philadelphia. I needed a change, and Philly is closer to home and has a lot of great history. It’s also the home of The Handwork Studio, so I started working there a lot more. I became a larger part of the executive team, which allowed me to see how the business operated and aid in decision-making. I liked that a lot.
When I wanted to find something a little more stable, I searched at universities. A lot of my part-time positions involved education in some way, so I knew I really liked that field. I’d taught young kids and teens, and I’d even taught sailing and fiber arts classes to adults. But I hadn’t tried higher ed yet.
My role at Drexel further confirms that I really do like being part of an organization that’s doing good things. I like helping the university and its students achieve their goals. And I feel an MBA can help me become an expert in doing that.
TopicsCareer Stories , Syndication , Career Paths , Exploring Career Paths , Finding Your Passion , Academia , Side Projects
Abby is a writer, career coach, and health educator living in Portland, Maine. When she’s not trying to make the world a happier and healthier place, you can find her cuddling with her cats, hunting down the city's best coffee and grilled cheese, or dipping her toes in the Atlantic. Say hi on Twitter .More from this Author