I enjoy reading Liz Ryan’s bits of job wisdom on LinkedIn, and I think she has an excellent article here that can help those in the tech comm field who feel squeamish about the fact that many of us end up doing contract work feel a little bit better about jumping around so much.
It’s odd, because I’ve seen this shift that she’s mentioned that’s been happening over the last twenty years. It used to be that I was asked why I jumped around so much because it didn’t seem like I had permenancy anywhere. Now, when I am asked the same question, it’s almost as if it’s a lifestyle question, as if to ask if I choose to be a contractor because I like to jump around. (The answer in both cases is the same–I’ve taken contract work because that’s what’s been available, since there are few permanent positions in this field out there where I live. I’d gladly take a permanent position if the right offer came along, just to have a little security!)
Who knew that being a contractor would actually beneficial to me? My husband has reminded me time and time again that with each new job, I gain some sort of new knowledge by way of either new skills, or I learn something about myself. For example, in the contract I just finished, I learned a lot more about UX/UI design than I had before in a real-life scenario (versus something theoretical in a class), and how to write with UX/UI in mind. I got better at it, I think, over the duration of the contract. But, I also learned things about myself, such as I didn’t really feel it was a good use of the range of skills I do have, and it wasn’t satisfying work to me–I needed a better challenge. Reflecting on another past contract, it made me realize where my strengths lie so I have a better understanding of myself, and what sort of positions I should pursue. In that other past contract, I did well, it used many of my best skills, and I enjoyed it. So now, I do my best to try to find those kinds of opportunities instead of trying to force myself into doing something that really isn’t my thing, even if I have the skill set for it. I’m getting too old to be working jobs that I don’t like, and fortunately, I’ve been financially careful enough to be able to afford to take a break to find the next opportunity.
I’m not against permanent positions at all, but I will say that I have a much better appreciation for contract work over these past few years as a result, and I can recognize how it’s benefitted me in the long run.
How about you? Has your experience being at multiple positions benefitted you? Share your comments below.