My career reads like a liberal arts curriculum. Hard sciences — done it. Math — done it. Creative writing — yep. Computer programming — yep. Business management — always. Marketing — check. Art — roger. Theatre — affirmative. Social studies — everyday.
I'm a career polymath, which basically means I've worked a wide range of jobs and developed a varied skill set. This type of career comes with challenges and biases others never encounter — especially when looking for a new job. I've been dropped from consideration because I haven’t spent more than 15 years doing one thing. I've been rejected because I don't write business cases in my sleep.
Yet, the companies that I've worked for have quickly thrown me more responsibilities and promotions, often well outside what they hired me to do. My reviews contain phrases and words like "flexible," "ramps up quickly," and "succeeds with any problem given."
Being a career polymath certainly hasn't held me back. Paying it forward, I have some advice for others with the same career path.
If you are just graduating with a liberal arts degree, you've spent the last four years focusing on different topics every semester. You are wired to jump into a new area, feet first and become an expert quickly. When you master your job, you will get antsy.
Being a career polymath is a blessing and a curse. But given the choice between having a single, focused path or what I've done, I’ll always pick the polymath path.
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