How To Have A Portfolio Career: Being A Slushi

Careers used to be straight ladders. Graduate from university, get an internship and spend your twenties gradually working your way up a certain area.

Though it holds still true for many careers, such as law, finance or medicine, this quite rigid structure is completely changing. Careers are now twisting, versatile things: many people spend their twenties trying out lots of different jobs, sometimes in the same area, sometimes not. Being a ‘Slushi’, aka someone with one or a number of significant side-hustles, is becoming much more normal.

And this change is, in many ways, very welcome. It can be limiting and claustrophobic to dedicate yourself so early on to one single career, and extremely liberating to try your hand at different skills before settling on which makes you most happy. Sometimes labelled a ‘portfolio career’, doing this allows you the space to choose your hours, your pay and who you work for. It allows you huge flexibility as to where you work, as well. I am one such ‘slushi’ (as it’s been called in one CNBC article): I hold a fixed role in journalism half the week, and the other half is spent freelance writing and tutoring.

Being a slushi gives you huge control over the shape and direction of your career. Sometimes having a ‘boss’ in a corporate office job can do quite the opposite.

It isn’t for everyone, though. Some people know exactly what they want to do, and spending years building expertise in that area can be hugely worthwhile. Equally some people also value and prefer the certainty (financially and otherwise) that a contracted office job gives you.

This ‘gig economy’ has been emerging for some years (‘gig’ does apply to the wider job market, not only to Uber or Deliveroo drivers) and the culture of short term or zero hours contracts is a phenomenon of our time. The pandemic has accelerated this trend and more time at home has simultaneously made side hustles a national pastime.

Going forward, post pandemic, most people will be ‘hybrid working’; spending half their week in an office and half their week at home; a change which is welcomed by many people who are tired of long, sweaty, commutes in and out cities every day. The idea of having a ‘portfolio career’ chimes well with this changing working culture and for this reason more and more people may flock towards it.

The path to finding the ‘right’ career for you can be really daunting. As a capitalist generation born into a competitive society, we have been engineered to believe that our identities are tied up in our career prospects: we are led to believe that what we ‘do’ with our lives is central to how we live them. This can place overwhelming pressure on young people to achieve great things early on in their career and to hit upon the ‘perfect’ job straight away.

Do listen to our Podcast with the author and career coach Laurence Shorter, who is discussing the benefits of a successful portfolio career and how this can make you happy and creative (

Portfolio careers open up a wealth of opportunity to those dipping their toes in the world of work for the first time, and a breath of fresh air from the prospect of getting bogged down in one job for years on end. Side hustles can be a great way to experiment doing different things and are often highly satisfactory and possibly highly profitable. It’s a path worth considering.

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