Mash Up ’em Skills

Compliments of the season everyone. I hope you’ve had a fantastic Christmas?

I know Diary of aMedia Junkie has been on and off, and for that I apologise. I haven’t been totally silent though, my Twitter account has been on fire and my research blog can boast of a few posts in the little time i’ve been away.

How i’ve spent my holiday:

I officially commenced my break on Christmas eve. It’s been refreshing to laze about the house in Pyjamas, cradle cups upon cups of coffee (and heated Ribena), and watch Kerry Washington work her magic in Washington DC while struggling with her amoral emotions for the big guy at the fictitious White House (Shonda Rhimes, Scandal). Did I mention watching every single episode of Merlin and almost falling in love with Arthur Pendragon? Almost. It’s been absolute bliss.

I informed close friends of my decision to keep off school work for the next 3 days so they could police me – a role they took on with joy and ecstasy. I managed to default only once with a warning. I was caught reading an article on techniques to deliver mind-blowing presentations (that wasn’t even work).

After the 3 day full break elapsed, it was time to warm-up into work-mode once more. To do this, I decided to purchase a book recommended to me by another good friend, Mash Up – How to Use Your Multiple Skills to Give You an Edge, Make Money and Be Happier.

I know for sure I would love to have an edge career-wise, making money won’t hurt, but I wasn’t certain about the happy connection. Does money make you happy? Anyway, I shrugged and decided to devour the book with as much of an open mind as I could muster – to be honest, I did have a good feeling about the book and I’m pleased not to be disappointed.

I am just about barking up the 4th chapter of the book, so this is certainly not a book review. I simply couldn’t resist the urge of sharing the gold hidden in plain sight which is found in this book.

Before I go ahead to voice my thoughts on how this may apply to us as PhD students, i’ll like to summarise what i’ve read so far. The book is about how our work-life is no longer single-tracked. The question teachers, parents and older ones used to ask us years ago, “what would you like to be when you grow up?”, is becoming obsolete. Work used to be about picking a trade, climbing up the ladder and not looking back, but things are changing.

You ask, changing to what?

Work-life is increasingly becoming more multi-dimensional. People who leverage on more than one talent they possess are even more attractive to employers. Entrepreneurs in my opinion don’t have a choice when it comes to being multidimensional. Being jack-of-all-trades is no longer such a bad idea. Here is an excerpt:

The misconception about plurality is that, if you are adept at doing more than one thing, it must dilute your abilities to be good at any one of them. But generalists and specialists are not mutually exclusive.

By being multidimensional in your career map, you are able to create multiple revenue streams for yourself, maintain a competitive edge, create job roles for yourself where there was none (because no one else has the combo you do) and so many more benefits. I’m still reading this book – like I said, I am just on the fourth chapter out of 19 (phews!).

Well, this just got me thinking about myself and colleagues currently in academia. In the few pages i’ve read, there have been numerous examples of academics mashing up their career with other roles outside the four-walls of a university.

Do you think it’s worth it to start thinking of ways to mash-up the skills we’ve acquired thus far, or stick to climbing the academic ladder if that is our sole career choice?

If you think mashing-up one’s skills is the answer whilst being in academia, how do you think suppose this may distract (or not) from being focused on the ladder? After all, this distraction has always been the criticism against being a jack-of-all-trades.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Happy new year.


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