I really enjoy telling people that I have three jobs. The looks I get are priceless. Of course, that’s not the only reason I do it (though it’s a nice bonus). I'm lucky to not need to work three jobs, so why?
Let me first get this out of the way: I’m not crazy—I love it. And, turns out, it’s actually a great idea to have more than one thing going at a time. Sure, it eats into my free time a bit to hold down a full-time position and tack on a couple of side gigs, but for me the pros outweigh the cons.
Here are five concrete reasons why an extra job or two might be good for you, too.
1. You Build Your Skills
The most obvious reason to pick up some additional part-time work on the side is the opportunity to grow your skill set. I’m happy that career counseling is the core of the work I do, but it’s important to me that I’m always pushing myself and learning more. That’s why I’m so grateful to be writing for The Muse. The skills I’m developing here are mine to keep for the rest of my professional life.
2. You Do Better Work at Your Main Job
The cool part of having more than one job is that not only do you gain more skills, you actually get better at all of your jobs. They begin to inform one another. Writing for The Muse, for example, has forced me to think about how to answer my students’ specific career-related questions in a very structured way. (Writing, after all, isn’t the same as speaking.) That, while not really a tangible skill, has helped me explain these concepts and ideas more clearly when I’m counseling. It’s pretty neat.
3. You Keep Your Other Interests Alive
How many people are only interested in one thing? Doing just one job day after day can be weirdly confining. Maybe you enjoy baking bread or tutoring third graders—whatever it is, you can probably find a gig that lets you not only continue pursuing your interests, but also helps you get better at them. Then, one day when you’re ready to take it to the next level, you’ll be able to transition into it with some real paid experience under your belt.
4. You Expand Your Network
The best part of working three jobs hasn’t been the extra pay, it’s been the people I’ve met and had the privilege of working with. You probably know the importance of networking, but unless you’re job searching or need something from someone, you’re probably not actively going out to meet people. Working three jobs means I automatically have an expanded network of people who not only know me, but who can vouch for my qualifications. Plus, you can be extra picky about who you work with for your side gigs. The Muse helpfully has a “no assholes” rule that I’m a huge fan of.
5. You Enjoy the Extra Pay
Just because it’s not the best part, doesn’t mean it’s not nice to have the extra pay. Money in the bank is always nice, but it also feels good to have the extra safeguard against my whole income disappearing should I lose a job. Not being fully reliant on one company for my paycheck helps me sleep at night, and it makes me more confident when I’m negotiating. It’s easier to have a sense of what you’re worth when you have more than one data point.
Yes, I give up some of my weekends to do this, and not everyone has the flexibility to do that. But if you do, it’s well worth considering. The money is nice, but there are so many more reasons why you might want to pick up another job or two. For me, I just really enjoy it. Everything else is an added benefit.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author