From Hybrid Careers to Other Real-Life Career Options for Renaissance Personalities

January 27, 2011 | blog,Career,renaissance personality,resume writing,Uncategorized | Written by: admin

In this week’s column “J.T. and Dale Talk Jobs,” J.T. referenced yours truly when answering a reader’s question about the right career path for him. J.T. suggested the reader might be, what I call, a Renaissance Personality, and mentioned a hybrid career to him; basically two separate careers, simultaneously.

Here’s a link to one of the outlets that published the column.

A hybrid career is indeed a great way to satisfy a multi-passionate personality’s craving for variety and new experiences. But there are other ways of shaping your life and your career if you’re wired like a Renaissance man or woman.

If you’re someone who gets bored fast, then project-based work could be a god sent.

However, if you’re able to stay interested in a topic or field for quite some time – say several years – you could pursue work in this field, stay in it for as long as you like, and whenever you hit your X-year itch, switch!

How to just switch without going back to school for another 4 years, you wonder?

By volunteering in the field while still employed in your other job, or by taking on part-time jobs or projects in this field to start out with. You can get a feel for a new field by shadowing someone.

And, you want to be strategic about your choices. See if you can use and hone skills in your current job that you know will be of value in your next endeavor – provided you already know what that will be. You probably know more than you give yourself credit for.

Another option for Renaissance Personalities is to pursue your many interests and passions in your free time and pick a day job that provides stable income and suits your needs. For example; one with no to very little stress and overtime so you’ll have enough time and energy to enjoy your off-time activities.

Also, be strategic about the industry you pick for your day job. If traveling is one of your passions, might as well try to get a job with an airline or travel company. The husband of a friend of mine works in IT for a travel agency and the family enjoys 20% off their family vacations! Not bad.

Another option could be a teaching job where you enjoy crazy time off! This will give you time to travel, create your art, set up your personal projects, build a house, or do whatever it is you need time for.

So try to match the perks your day job offers you with your other interests, whenever possible.

Yet another way to create a Renaissance life is to hunt for an umbrella career; satisfying multiple passions in one job. These are harder to get by, but worthwhile. An example would be a foreign correspondent if you love to write, travel, and are into politics. Or a food critic if you love to write, love food, and can’t stand the idea of sitting in a cubicle all day.

The one thing all of these jobs – other than the day jobs – have in common is that it requires creativity on your part. You have to carve out your own path and dare to ask for unconventional arrangements.

Start by making a list of all the things – activities, hobbies, work, fields – you’re interested in and want to experience.

Next, narrow your list down to the things you want to do professionally. If you’re not sure…just add them. You’re not committing for life here!

Then make a list of your values and narrow it down to the top three. What’s most important to you in life? Stability? Money? Freedom? Adventure? Family? Team work? Harmony? Exploration? Pioneering? The list goes on. Find out what really matters to you.

Now take your top three values and see how they match up with your list of interests. Find the ones that overlap. After all, if your values are at odds with your daily activities, you won’t be happy for long.

Make a new list with only the activities/interests that overlap with your values and prioritize them – if this is easy for you. Is there something you are just dying to do first? Put it at the top. If you don’t have clear preferences, this is ok, as long as you don’t get stuck in overanalyzing things. Instead of just picking one, pick two or three. One or two you can start doing for money, and another you’ll do in your free time.

You’re almost there!

Take a close look at everything you’ve done in your life; professionally and for fun. Write down all the skills and knowledge you may have taken for granted. Warning: for most Renaissance Personalities, this may take some time!

Try to see where you have skills and abilities that you could transfer into a new field or job.

And, most importantly; get out there! Talk to people about what you want, what you’re looking for, and ask them what they do and how they got there. Never try doing it on your own.

There you have it – a crash course in career planning, Renaissance style. Of course there’s a lot more to it, depending on your particular type of Renaissance Personality. But hopefully this got you started – and that’s half the battle…truly!

If you want to read real-life stories of Renaissance Personalities who have done this – and other posts on this topic, please browse my blog.

(You can sign up for J.T. and Dale’s question column here:


  1. Hi Ilona
    Great article!
    This is kind of where I am right now. Prior careers and business were computer tech, computer sales, and wedding photographer. Now I am running a little computer repair shop and doing websites. It doesn’t quite feel perfect yet, but I do get a good mix of technical and artistic. I’ll keep tweaking things till I get a good mix!
    Thanks for helping people like me know why we have such a tough time sticking to one career!

    Comment by Carlin — January 28, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  2. Beware of taking the teaching road except as a substitute. Teaching tends to devour untold emotional space and time. A good teacher prepares 3 or 4 hours for each 1 hour class. About that crazy time off…that time is non-paid, so figure plan a management scheme to stretch the 9 or 10 months of salary to cover that non-paid time off. Teaching can be better classified as seasonal. Again, from academic year to academic year one can never tell if a contract will be renewed. Another thing…that time off will often be spent recovering from the last season and preparing for the next season. Think hard about the heavy people contact and lack of real privacy if you happen to be introverted. I know this because I got the education and prep to be an educator and waltzed into the profession with fantisies about teaching dancing in my head. I was not prepared for the raw reality I met in classrooms.

    Comment by victoree — January 28, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  3. Another way to go the teaching route is to become an adjunct faculty member at a local college. That is what I do. I teach one to two nights a week at a career college with an accelerated program. (4 week courses)So I am teaching something different every five weeks. This does a couple of things. 1) it keeps me sharp/up to date on things related to my primary occupation. Almost like taking CPE year round. Some months (mods or modules) I will have off. Sometimes I have requested to have a mod off, others I have just been given it off depending on the needs of the school. Doesn’t pay a lot – I think I made about $8000 last year.

    I am a bit introverted and there are some things that I find I have to really work on in order to make it work.

    Comment by Brad Merrill — January 31, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  4. Thanks Carlin! Funny – I actually wanted to mention you as an example of how a Renaissance person can combine different careers and activities into one, but I ran out of time.

    So glad you’re sharing your story of what’s possible! You make it sound like a piece of cake, which I know it’s not (making decisions, leaving paid jobs behind, starting out on your own, etc.) but the point is that the options are endless.

    And as far as not sticking to one career – I hope it will not even be an issue to you anymore. : )

    Rock on…

    Comment by Ilona — February 3, 2011 @ 7:34 am

  5. Hi Victoree,

    Indeed, teaching is not for everyone. I know former teachers who hate it, and others who love it. Some do it as their only career and simply enjoy their summers off. Others combine it with another career or passion.

    “Teaching” is such a broad topic though. You can teach students of all ages, demographics, and on different subjects.

    Some teachers teach full-time, others part-time.

    Other examples of seasonal, flexible, or part-time work are being a skiing or surfing instructor, working as a hairdresser, or doing landscaping. The list goes on.

    The point is – there are many seasonal/part-time, or other positions that do not require 50 weeks out of the year of working 40+ hours a week. Teaching is just one example.

    It’s up to each of us to figure out what works for us.

    You bring up a good point though; if at all possible, try out before you jump in. If you can volunteer or in any way get hands-on experience at what you think you want to do, that’s priceless.

    Talking to different people in the same job is highly recommend as well.

    You don’t want to invest years of edcuation and money only to find out it wasn’t what you expected it to be.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Comment by Ilona — February 3, 2011 @ 7:42 am

  6. Hi Brad,

    Great point! And congrats to you for landing this “gig.”

    Just curious: do you supplement your income with another job the rest of the year?

    I once helped an NYPD sergeant transition into an adjunct faculty position after retirement.

    He got the job he wanted – easily.

    What he did, during his time on the NYPD, was getting his master’s and teaching internal units. So he had hands-on experience in the subjects he wanted to teach and in actually teaching.

    This person loved being an adjunct and it left him time to pursue other interests simultaneously. Of course, he had his NYPD pension as well.

    Comment by Ilona — February 3, 2011 @ 7:46 am

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