Hi. My name is Pokuaa and I am a workaholic.
Thank you, thank you.
When I say I am a workaholic, it means that I am always working and love every minute of it. I don’t mean I’m at my office seated behind STATA (I’m a research geek, bear with me) from 12 to 12. At night, I swap hats to a writing, editing and digital content creation one (it’s a snapback). On the weekends, I torture people in a studio for a few hours on a podcast.
Someone told me that I was growing up with millennial resources and sensitivities, including a desire to experience a multi-faceted life. Which, for me, means that I should always be busy. My day does not begin at 9 and end at 5. My job does. But my life continues the rest of the day and night. I know a lot of us think this way, especially at twenty-something. We are exposed to the moguls of the world who have 5 different titles listed on their CV and a million others that aren’t. We want to be them. We want extra money. We want a lifestyle, not just a career. We want to be creative. We want it all now.
If you’re also thinking like this, you are on the right track. Not because I think everyone should be tired all the time, but because there are benefits to having multiple activities taking up your time:
- Two jobs equal two revenue streams. I don’t have to explain further.
- Life is interconnected and so are industries. Having knowledge of one improves your functioning in another.
- Having different career options adds some stability to your future. Where one fails, the other can be a new direction for you to pursue.
- Widening your scope widens your network and the impact of a thriving social life is positive
I know what you’re thinking. How, Pokuaa, hoooooooowwwwwww? I have a full time job, when can I do anything else? It took me so long to find this one, how will I get another job? I’m an engineer, I don’t know anything else. I’m here to help you get started.
S.I.T. (I will refer to this often. Yes, I made it up)
Skills. Interest. Training. Start by asking yourself what you are good at, what you are interested in and enjoy, and what you can learn to do. Don’t limit this list to your academic qualifications. If your studies or career are very focused or specialized, that can be even more restrictive for you. You may already have 1 of the 5 entry/associate level jobs in your industry, meaning that you have to explore elsewhere. Additionally, if you don’t love love love your job, I don’t think you’d want to stretch it into the night or weekends. Instead, take a close look at your hobbies. Those are the things you do anyway, without much prompting and with a certain level of expertise. If you sing, build drones, write poetry or sculpt animals out of pencil lead, you should start to consider how you can add value to your craft.
Do Your Research
If you don’t know where to begin, I would suggest YouTube. It is the greatest website on this planet for trying to figure out what non-traditional career paths exist in the world. Everything from DIY videos to tech videos to film production videos exist on this site. Better yet, you can see what other people are doing with similar S.I.T. to earn income.
Talk to people
Often, the barrier to starting a side hustle is opportunity. It’s not always evident that there is a market for your type of S.I.T. If there is, it can be difficult entering without guidance, especially if it is starkly different your current field. The answer to this is simple enough. [See section title]. Start building a network of people early in your career through discussions on social media (no fighting please), events, volunteer work and even parties. No one should be off limits, so keep your network diverse. Join groups/ forums like Ahaspora where you can easily do this.
Tell everybody about your plan. Ok, not everybody, because everybody does not have your interests at heart. (That’s another hack for another day.) Identify people who are connected, experienced, have multiple job descriptions or are just very smart. Ask them to help you find people or opportunities in the field. Ask them to spread the word to their network. Also, saying your dream out loud for others to hear makes you more accountable to making it come true.
This may seem contradictory, but there is also the option of looking within your current employment for additional opportunities. Most organisations frown on using billed hours for other jobs, but you can still use the people that you work with as a point of contact. You can even offer services to another department. This is easier in research, because you can request to join projects and are surrounded by doctors and professors who have their own personal projects which they would need assistance on. Share your desire to do more work with colleagues or higher-level staff that you trust.
One thing: Make sure you’re up to speed on you own work before you try this route.
Share your work
It’s not always easy to describe your S.I.T. to people. If you are an artist, for instance, it is often better to let others see your work firsthand. The internet allows us to do that, almost always free of charge. Experts believe that, because of reciprocity, when you give people a gift (in this case, the value of your work), you are more likely to cause them to subconsciously return the favor, either through sharing, critiquing or recommendation. You become a fixture in their mind which will come up every time they see an opportunity come up. This may not seem like a money-generating move yet, but it will be if your work is quality. Learn how to protect your work with branding so that you’re not a victim of the copyright bandits online.
We are conditioned to wait for a ready-made job or company to come and employ us. It’s a more stable plan, of course, because it may come with health insurance and all that. This is not always reliable, or even convenient if you already have a full-time job. If you don’t see the position in your company, create it. Sell yourself as a product (no, not like that). Set yourself up to be a pioneer and make space for yourself.
At the end of the day, you can’t start till you start. (makes sense right?) If you feel in your gut that you want to do more, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t try. All the best!
By Pokuaa Adu
Pokuaa is a future world ruler and voice of reason at AccraWeDey. She works in economic research and and loves to write about life in its entirety, in the hopes that 300 years from now, you will find her work in a museum of insanity. Her other interests include pork-eaters’ rights advocacy and reporting meninist twitter accounts.