This is a guest blog by one of our clients, Jenny Brewer. Jenny enjoyed a successful career setting up and running her own law firm and was a pioneer for women in the law. She didn’t want to retire but to enjoy a more varied and stimulating second career, but what? Like many people, Jenny was not sure about her transferable skills, where they were useful or how to market herself as an individual brand. We helped her to think through how to make it happen and she has! The rest of this blog is in her own words:
Careers, in short, have a shelf life; portfolio careers can be timeless
When I chose to step down from my Law Practice 2 years ago I had no idea what opportunities were out there for someone like me. In 1980 I had set up and developed my own Law Firm and after a good 30 years at the helm and an exciting legal career behind me, I was ready to move on. But what was I going to do? After a lot of thought and, I have to admit, quite a lot of anxiety and doubt, I could see that it would be difficult to focus on one thing. I wanted to be free of management, free of staff, free of overwhelming regulation: a Portfolio Career i.e. a variety of jobs or business opportunities rather than one long term job, seemed a very good starting point.
So what exactly is a Portfolio Career?
For many people, instead of working in a traditional full-time job, they have several part-time jobs (including part-time employment, temporary jobs, freelancing and self-employment). When these are combined, they may add up to the equivalent of a full-time job or a working life, which is as full as they want it to be.
Getting Started creating a Portfolio Career
It is not unusual to find it difficult to get started, it feels like taking a leap into the unknown, when in fact you will soon realise that the first step is often the hardest – after that it somehow “grows”. It’s often a good idea to ask a friend to help you or to consult a Career Coach who will make that first step feel quite natural.
I was fortunate enough to be guided by Rachel Brushfield whose help was invaluable. With her advice I was able to work out what I had to offer and the areas I wanted to get into.
So we looked at:
• My skills
• My interests
• Things that I have always wanted to do
• Things I have always wanted to learn/develop – no matter how varied.
The Future of my Portfolio Career
Two years on and I now have my own Business Consultancy, which is well remunerated. In addition, I mentor professionals – including women solicitors, and I teach speaking skills. During the last two years, I have studied for and taken a teaching diploma in speaking skills. I have met so many interesting people from different areas of life who I wouldn’t have come across when I was working as a lawyer. I have also been involved in voluntary work including teaching youngsters in school to express themselves through speaking.
It has been a wonderfully rewarding experience. I have learnt to say “no” to work I don’t want and to develop the additional skills I need to do things that I am now interested in. It has surprised me how many opportunities are out there to acquire work, to learn new skills and to develop new interests.
It is said that we all work and possibly live in silos, where we are seriously focused on our individual narrow paths. We need to be focused because our work demands it. Now, I feel as though I have stepped outside into the fresh air. I’ve become more worldly and more interested in everything around me and I feel I have far more to contribute, far more to look forward to and, perhaps, most importantly, much more to enjoy!