Hi. My name is Bee, and I'm a slash artist.
A slash artist (as I define it) is a person who carries multiple roles and titles, in a career sense. A few years ago, if you asked me what I did, I'd say "I'm a mental health researcher" or "I'm an account manager for a medical tourism company." That's what I did, that's how I made money, and that was it.
These days, things are different. In efforts to go after goals, indulge in passions, and develop skills that I wasn't developing in my regular 9-5, I have a new answer to the "What do you do?" question. I can now say that I'm a healthcare professional/blogger/freelance writer/speaker/social media consultant. My linear way of thinking has slowly fallen to the wayside, and I'm more of a Venn diagram of a chick.
Many of the people in my close and extended circles (especially my fellow Gen-Y/Millennials) are also slash artists. Embracing entrepreneurship, seeking out multiple streams of income, and finding ways to go after their dreams have all led to this slash artist boom. It's a unique place to be in, and comes with its own set of challenges and successes - so how do we make it work?
For me, it's not as black and white as forcing myself to choose between being an entrepreneur vs. working a traditional 9-5. At this point in my life, I benefit from both, and seek to make both work for me in a symbiotic way. In attempting to do so, I often sit back and take inventory of the things I'm doing, and see how they may be helping or hurting me. If you're a slash artist who's juggling both traditional work and passion work (for lack of a better term, since your traditional work may very well be your passion), you might want to do the same.
Be careful of the hurts
It's wise to be aware of the fact that your side hustles can come back to hurt you in different ways - especially when working with people who aren't slash artists. Not everyone understands or sees the benefit in being a diverse person. Some may feel that your aspirations outside of the office will negatively impact your work within the office, even if you've never once given them any evidence to support that argument. I was once (allegedly) called a racist by a Google-sleuthing colleague with too much time on their hands. Their overzealous need to understand what I did on my free time led them to deliver "proof" of my extra-curricular activities to the higher-ups who created a mountain out of a mole hill. Guess what happened a year later? That same higher-up requested my help with a project based on the fact that I possessed a specific skill set thanks to those initially problematic extra-curriculars. One day I'll elaborate, but I've learned a few things from that incident:
- Ensure that you don't give anyone a reason to believe that your out of office work is taking away from your in office work.
- Employ whatever set of privacy tools (writing under a nom de plume, restricting access to social media profiles, etc.) you feel are necessary.
- Educate yourself by reviewing your company's policy list, and ensure that none of your extra-curriculars breach any of the terms of your employment contract.
My biggest takeaway? Assume. Even though we are told not to assume anything lest you make an ass out of you and me, this is one area where I assume all day long. I consistently assume that employers (whether current or future) have access to my blog, my Facebook, my Twitter, my LinkedIn, my Youtube, my about.me page - to anything that is in anyway public. I assume that and remain intentional in everything I do. If a blog post, Facebook post, tweet, or participation in an event comes back to bite me in the 9-5 ass, am I prepared to stand by it and accept my fate, or will I regret doing it? I weigh that out every time I engage in MY work, and it guides me well.
Look for the positives
Given some of the places I've worked and some of the experiences I've had, I've become hyper-conscious of how my social media/blogging/freelancing/speaking life impacts my 9-5 life. However, I'm happy to see that more and more employers are beginning to understand the value of the slash artist. A friend mentioned that she obtained her corporate PR job because of the fact that she had a personal blog - and this is becoming more common from what I see.
A quick glance at open job descriptions shows that more employers are looking for people with skills that may or may not have been developed in the traditional sense. Social media is becoming very prominent in business, so your side gig as a freelance social media consultant could come in handy. Positions that call for a candidate who is resourceful, creative, and organized may find their pick in someone who's organized events in the community. If you've been invited to speak at a conference in your given side hustle field, sliding that into your resume may help you snag a corporate position. As the "do what you have to have to do, not what you want to do" generation of workers clears out, we may just find that more employers will embrace diversity in skill sets and experiences outside of those displayed on the typical resume.
You may choose to live a Clark Kent/Superman existence and keep your lives as separate as possible as opposed to blending your various skills and experiences - and that's OK. It may actually be preferable based on your particular fields, but if your side-hustle skills can give you a leg up in the job hunt or help you win an internal promotion, use them! I'm a firm believer that one can wear both hats - you can be a valuable and productive employee and still have the passion and drive to go after your personal dreams. To be a successful and balanced slash artist, be wise, be intentional, and be creative. You never know how things might work out!
Are you a slash artist? How do you juggle your various hats? How has being a slash artist hurt or helped you?