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Jack-of-all-JACK

Submitted by LeahG on June 6, 2010 – 4:51 pmComments

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jack of all traitsBy: Leah Goldstein

“So, what do you do? Like really, what do you do?”

I am helping out a consulting firm by doing some part-time coding work on one of their projects. It has become abundantly clear that my competencies vastly exceed the task at hand(I’m not banging my own gong, a monkey could do this work).

The guy who hired me (he is two years younger than I am, but looks about seven years older) ogles my c.v. and then with one eyebrow raised, demands an explanation for my current desperate need of ANY kind of work/money.
“Uh…I’m really a research analyst…I have a masters degree in Social Work…but I’m also in like two bands??”

I say this wincing, as though I am about to be hit on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.

“But, why are you here?” He smirks.

“I’m…between…grants?

Yes, the fun of “fun-employment” had finally run out, and I needed a J-O-B.

Let me explain. If you hadn’t noticed, there are very few professional, career-making jobs open for social scientists right now. I’m shocked that I have interviews lined up. So in the mean time, I’ve been making music, promoting shows, writing, and generally being the biggest and most annoying hipster (ugh, might as well own that word) ever.

So yes, I needed a job, and I needed it fast (fortunately craigslist.org exists, so there are plenty of “DATA ANALYST NEEDED” posts to respond to while trolling my tumblr/twitter/facebook).

The men and women who populated the consulting firm I had been temporarily hired by seemed fueled by dreams of immediate financial success post undergrad.

In other words: they had difficulty wrapping their heads around a “choister.” In addition, I am cursed in that I look profoundly young (I get carded at the movies. Trust me, it’s NOT a good thing). These suit-and-tie types could not understand why someone who looked high-school aged could have tried and conquered so many seemingly dissonant paths.

I’m sure many reading will commiserate with this: being a “choister,” a “jack/jill of all trades,” a “renaissance woman/man” can be difficult to explain to those who are anxiously determined to “HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT!” When explaining my full history to my employers at the consulting firm (they made me, and seemed fascinated, intrigued and very, very confused), I felt a certain level of excitement spring up from their end. Many listed their college extra-curricular activities, and lamented that they didn’t try to balance both career and their other interests.

However, what was the most difficult for this group to grasp was that as well-rounded, career/path ADHD people, we (choisters) seem to be able to consolidate all of our skills and devote them to any given situation. When I asked if I could be placed in a more involved project following my temporary work, my employer looked at me, puzzled. “So…wait…you are a social scientist, research analyst, and you can also coordinate events and present and stuff? I don’t even know where to begin to place you…are you finance? Are you market research? WHAT ARE YOU?” He joked.

The work on the project I had been hired for has since concluded, and they said they would contact me if they needed any more help. However, I couldn’t help but feel as though they almost didn’t believe me. They seemed incredulous at the idea that I could be a focused member of their team.

Ultimately, choisters are a new breed, and we need to start presenting ourselves as such. Many of us come from liberal arts backgrounds, and have seriously put the liberal arts ethic and mission to work. Others, for whom college was not the best fit, are simply highly experienced and skilled (and some are both). Personally, I’m tired of feeling as though I have to explain my background to those who do not have skill sets as varied as ours. We are not Jacks-of-all-trades, masters of none. We CAN be competent experts in more than one or two (or seven) things.

Leah Goldstein is a writer/musician/social scientist who lives in Brooklyn, and kind of loves having ADHD. You can find her on twitter @thetarhythm, tumblr: http://brotherladies.tumblr.com/ or blogspot: http://thetarhythm.blogspot.com/

Image via: http://ladycaramell.blogspot.com

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