If you are concerned your career may be a patchwork of disparate jobs, and how you are supposed to build a brand with your history, then get the following overview of my history and judge for yourself if it sounds “patchwork” to you.
Right after getting my degree in psychology, I freelanced as an information specialist for a psych-lit database, writing abstracts and keying search terms and categories for new publications so database subscribers might find the literature they needed.
Then along came a position as a research associate in academia. The idea was that I should get a Ph.D. and make academia a career, but I found that didn’t speak to my kind of creativity after all. I did find the publishing aspect intriguing, though.
Following a major relocation for personal reasons, I took a series of stop-gap jobs, including work as a driver-training instructor and as a part-time, on-call instructor at a private language school. (Should I mention I also tried car sales at one point? I lasted all of three months….)
Sound “patchwork” enough, yet?
It did seem to me like publishing might be my eventual permanent stomping grounds. I took a two-semester program to become a Certified Publishing Professional, and I did land freelance gigs copyediting, fact-checking, and proofreading textbooks, ancillaries, and companion websites. And yet, a “career” to speak of never got off the ground.
When I first applied to a Career Center position as an instructor for workshops in job-search–related topics, it seemed to me like just another among many applications I was sending out at the time. But then I got an interview, and eventually the job offer.
And that’s when everything started merging and blending into the career I am still in today.
In “my” angle of career services, I draw on nuggets of prior experience. There is the part where I research, read and understand, and manage and integrate information from relevant books and articles. There is the part where I am in a classroom providing something like continuing education, and encouraging a group dynamic where people are comfortable sharing. And there is the part where I provide customer service, such as listening actively and offering options.
Moreover, there is the part where I edit and write cover letters and résumés with exacting style conventions and guidelines in mind. That way, I help the “real” authors (i.e., the job seekers) come up with compelling pieces of writing for their target audiences.
And there is my diversified experience working in a broad range of jobs, and some of them in the gig economy at that, with its challenges to my adaptability and my capability of communicating effectively with all types of internal and external clients.
I like to think all of the above enhance my knowledge and understanding of the territory. I like to think that this is how the seemingly jagged, disjointed tidbits of work history come together and add to my resourcefulness in the career in which I am today. It certainly is the career in which I have lasted the longest.
Well, I hope I have been able to illustrate how a supposed “patchwork” career may in fact have common threads that can end up working in your favor. Your work history may turn out to be rich in that regard. In some way or another, the least of common threads that ties it all together is you.