Way back in 2019, the accounting software company FreshBooks conducted an annual report that revealed 24 million Americans wanted to become self-employed.
It’s maybe not the biggest surprise that the year that changed everything (hello, 2020) helped speed up that transition or, in some cases, turned a pipe dream into a reality.
Some people lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Some simply reevaluated their priorities. And as the pandemic’s effects continue to reverberate, others are finding it preferable to strike out on their own rather than return to office work.
Woods explains: “People are starting to get their creative juices going, researching what they can do to still be able to make a living without being forced to do something they don’t agree with.”
Portfolio careers, however, are rarely manufactured overnight. Woods, for example, recognizes how hers is really the result of cultivating opportunities over the course of her entire career.
“I’ve always been really intentional about creating options for myself,” Woods says. “I never want to be without an option.”
To create those options, Woods has both diligently pursued education (she earned her master’s degree) and maintained a steadfast openness to opportunities.
“The work informs what you do next,” Woods explains. “When I first started my private practice as a career coach, I didn’t know I’d work at University of Phoenix. But had I not taken that step to cultivate that experience, then I probably wouldn’t have been qualified for this position. I didn’t know this was coming.
“So, I think one other difference between a traditional career and a portfolio career is, while your career path may be prescribed in a traditional setting, the portfolio career actually opens you up to more opportunities for what’s next.”
In other words, if you get experience in roles or industries you are passionate about, that opens the door to related opportunities.
Of course, sometimes the reverse is also true. Taking a role you don’t love but that is in the right industry or at the right company might give you the experience and network you need to position yourself to better negotiate your next move.
“It’s really about looking at your career from the perspective of a journey and not a destination,” Woods notes.