career growth

Your Job is Really a Gig, and Why That’s a Good Thing

By Kristen Harris

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about ‘gigs’ and the ‘gig economy’ lately, but may have thought it doesn’t apply to you. Here’s the deal–gigs aren’t just for Uber drivers and musicians anymore. We're all working in the gig economy. All jobs are becoming gigs. 

Work has been impacted by the Information Age, becoming more flexible and transient than ever before. For more information on gigs, jobs, and how the gig economy has evolved, check out the previous article Job vs. Gig: What’s the Difference and Why It Matters.

So, the gig economy is here, what does that mean to you?

First of all, your job is really a gig. While it may be salaried, Monday through Friday, 40ish hours a week, it’s still a gig. Why? Because all work is just-in-time, as-needed, and constantly evolving with company, industry, economic, social and political changes. We live in a highly connected international world, and that impacts all business and work.

This shift to an information-based world of work means that all jobs are based on current projects and needs. Those projects and needs constantly change, impacting the size and type of workforce needed. Which affects how companies hire, and how people manage their career.

Don’t despair, for people in the workforce this is a good thing! Skills and talents are valued, and opportunities are no longer (solely) based on seniority. Yes, someone with more experience may have different opportunities, but based on their level of knowledge and skill (read about Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule), not just because they’ve been at the company longest.

There are very few industries left where seniority is the only consideration for promotion (ahem, airline pilots). Generally, your skills, talent, and willingness to learn leads to new opportunities. This means individuals can find new ways to apply and grow skills, gain new experiences, pursue interesting opportunities, and be paid in a way that equates with the value of what they bring to the table.

If there’s a downside to this whole gig economy, here it is–it’s harder. Finding your own way, blazing your trail, building your skills and promoting them to others is all harder than finding that one job right out of school and staying there for 30 years. This new world order requires more hustle than before. You’ll probably change employers more often, may have multiple careers, and will often find self-employment or flexible work arrangements to be the norm.

But upside of opportunities and control over your own career outweighs the downsides. Plus, the gig economy is here, so we all might as well figure out how to make it work. Hustle, and build the career you want. Your future is in your hands!

Back to School: Learning Never Ends

By Kristen Harris

It’s Back to School time! The ads are running, and stacks of notebooks, folders, and pens are popping up on endcaps everywhere. This time of year gets me really excited—I loved school, and I still love buying a fresh pack of pens. But Back to School is not about the pens, notebooks or new clothes; it’s about getting back to learning.

While there is no official Back to School season for working professionals, our learning never ends; it’s a year-round, lifelong activity. And, no matter who you are or what you do, even if you hated school, now learning can be fun because it’s focused on things you like and are interested in. Basically the whole educational curriculum is built around you. Pretty cool, huh?

Here’s the catch…you have to build the curriculum. No committee or school board is going to decide what you need to learn or how it’s going to be taught. It’s your call. You can learn new skills directly related to your current role, or new technology that’s on the horizon. Choose to explore a new area that is growing in your industry, or learn more about a related field. You can even pursue a totally unrelated interest that broadens your knowledge or sparks creativity. There is no end to what you can learn, so why limit yourself?

Does this all sound too daunting? The choices can be overwhelming. Or maybe you hated school, and I’ve given you flashbacks to being stuck in the classroom with a teacher droning on and on and on. No worries. There’s a wide range of options, from formal group classes to online individual learning, or socially-driven peer-to-peer events.

With so many ways to learn, there’s bound to be something that fits your needs, style and schedule.

Here are a few options, from most formal to least:

·      College or University Classes. Take traditional or continuing education classes, or pursue a degree, depending on your interests and needs. There are a variety of institutions, from small colleges to large universities, community colleges, and online universities. As an added benefit, some employers offer tuition reimbursement as well.

·      Employer-Sponsored Learning. Many employers offer training or education programs for their employees. These classes can cover everything from software to leadership skills, communication, customer service, and more. Ask your manager or HR department what options may be available.

·      Community Events, Industry Groups and Meetups. Many organizations and industry groups host events, including speakers, workshops, panel discussions, and continuing education seminars. Grass-roots groups and events are often organized through Meetup or other social media. Follow organizations that are interesting to you or related to your industry to find out what’s being offered.

·      MOOCs. Through the power of the internet, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) allow access to courses on a variety of topics, often taught by educators at premier colleges and universities. It’s possible to gain the equivalent of a college education through these courses, and some institutions are now offering degrees as well. This route requires strong individual learning skills and commitment, no one will be checking up on you.

·      Online Training and YouTube. Sites like Lynda.com offer a variety of courses, mainly skills and technology focused, and videos about how to do nearly anything can be found on YouTube. These are helpful if you’re a visual learner, and looking for information on a very specific topic.

·      Books. Yes, I still read books. Whether you like physical books or use an e-reader, books are still a great way to learn, and both are available at your local library.

·      Ask a friend. Want to learn something a friend knows or does? Ask them to teach you. And pay them back by teaching something you know. It’s fun, and gives you and excuse to socialize too!

No matter what or how you learn, just keep doing it. Staying interested keeps us interesting, and that does matter in a constantly-changing world.

Change: It's a Good Thing

By Kristen Harris

Change is inevitable and necessary for growth. The world in general, and especially the creative industry, is constantly in flux. If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. This is true for businesses, people, communities, organizations, everything.

This year is Portfolio Creative’s tenth anniversary and you can bet we’ve seen a LOT of change over the past decade. Every day we have to grow, learn, and develop just to keep pace, and I think that’s a good thing.

I see positive opportunity in change. I actually like it…and even get a little bored when things stay same for too long. Here are my top ten lessons learned for embracing and making the most of change:

  1. Take action. Opportunities show up in all different shapes, sizes and disguises. When you’re open to new things, magic happens. Taking action requires courage, but if you don’t take any action then everyone else will just pass you by. Accept opportunities, and keep moving forward.

  2. Consider the future. Think about your goals. Will this change help you get closer to your goals? Even if it’s difficult, is this a necessary step in getting where you want to go? What seems uncomfortable today could help you get where you want to be in the future. Think long-term when making decisions.

  3. Communicate. If you’re leading others, share as much as you can as often as you can. Uncertainty can make changes a lot more stressful than they need to be. If you’re not in control of the overall situation, ask how you can help make the change successful. Be part of the solution.

  4. Reframe your thinking. Choose your attitude about change. It’s an inevitable part of life that leads to new and exciting opportunities. It’s going to happen, you might as well embrace it and not resist it.

  5. Stay Positive. Be grateful. Look for the benefits. Identify the potential upside in the current situation. Choose to stay positive and calm throughout the change process.

  6. It’s Temporary. Remind yourself that, while change can be difficult, the process won’t last forever. Hang in there. You’ll get to the end and reap the rewards soon enough.

  7. Address your feelings. Uncertainty is difficult. Don’t let your feelings become a barrier to your ability to move forward. Work through your feelings by writing or talking to a supportive person in your life.

  8. It’s a process. Whether personal or professional, change is a process. Everything can’t and won’t happen immediately. Be patient and work through each stage as it comes.

  9. Control what you can. We are simply not in control of everything that happens in our life. People make unpopular decisions, companies hit hard times, the economy tanks, relationships fall apart…even when the change is not our own creation, we still have to accept it. Take control of the things you can control, and let go of the rest.

  10. Relax. All change is stressful, even the good stuff. On a list of the most stressful events in a person’s life, right after the death of a loved one and imprisonment, are events like marriage, retirement, and gaining a new family member. Find a way to relax, and do it consistently. You’ll get through this; don’t make yourself overly stressed or physically ill because of it.

So much of successfully navigating change comes from our thoughts and beliefs about it. Developing the skills to manage change will serve you well both personally and professionally.