No More 9-5 – Alternative Careers for Millennials

Which way to go?

Which way to go?

Guest post

In our world of unpaid internships and ever increasing property prices the number of millennials wanting more diversity, flexibility and most importantly satisfaction from work is growing. A work/life balance is becoming more of a priority, with many starting to reject the post-college prescribed life of the 9-5 commute. Young people are wanting to put more emphasis on quality of life than resign to the ‘one size fits all’ approach to building a successful career, the result a surge in so-called ‘alternative careers’.  Whether it’s flexible working hours or a sense of gratification, let’s look into the best alternative careers to get you dreaming of a life free from the mundane Monday mornings.

Go Freelance

In your current career, is there any way you could go freelance? Many industries (from set design to marketing to recruitment) not just accommodate but rely on freelancers, so if you’re looking for more control over your working hours then it may well be worth considering whether there’s any scope in your current profession for you to go freelance. Benefits vary from diversity of work to exposure to different people, with the gratification of being able to take ownership of your own career rather than working under someone else’s terms. For instance, if you’re a graduate of English or Journalism then you might want to consider freelance writing as a viable alternative career. Start by identifying your niche and putting together a portfolio. Take a look online to see if any established freelancers in your field offer any advice, or even free of charge courses to help you get started.

However – it’s important to understand that basic business understanding, self discipline and good organisational skills are advisable if you want to make freelancing work for you full time. It may take you some time to start earning, so could be a good idea to get started whilst still in full time employment. However once established, you’ll be free to run your own work/life balance and take on as much or as little work as you want.

Become a barista

If you’re passionate about coffee and have previous experience in customer facing roles then becoming a barista could be a great alternative career to get involved in. If good coffee motivates you and less stress and shift work appeal to you then this could be something to consider. Long gone are the days where a mediocre latte was the high street standard, with a rise in quality independent coffee shops opening that understand the science and passion behind great coffee.

With the coffee scene booming, barista training courses are now readily available and growing in popularity; the result is a really fun job that offers not just flexible working hours but also great social interaction and a sense of satisfaction. Consider undertaking a course first to get yourself up to standard, then make enquiries at any local or well known cafes, as well as online.

Teach English abroad

No alternative careers list would be complete without a mention of teaching English abroad. Perhaps the ultimate alternative career, teaching English abroad allows you to experience life and culture in another country, whilst gaining the reward of teaching another language. With approximately one billion people learning English worldwide, the demand for English speaking teachers is huge. Popular, and for good reason, if you think teaching English abroad could be for you then it’s not as simple as booking your flights – you must first become qualified. A degree will increase your chances considerably, and a TEFL certificate, while expensive, is necessary as it will allow you to work professionally and earn a better wage. Salary and livability are both things to consider, as well as whether you want to embark on your new career independently or with an organised placement program.

Try at being an online trader

For those with a background (or even interest) in finance, online trading can be an extremely lucrative career, offering access to stocks, bonds or any other type of security with the benefit of flexible working hours. Prior experience of the stock market or investment would be ideal, but not necessary. Opting to trade online means that rather than being based from an office you’re able to work from home, and are free to trade without the assistance of a broker. All you need is access to internet and use of a computer. Having said that, before you get started it’s advisable to seek advice from an established broker or financial advisor. This will enable you to make informed bets with an in depth understanding of your particular market. You’ll need a small amount of capital to get yourself started as well as (if possible) a cushion of savings, and it’s important to remember to never bet more than you can afford to lose. Look for reputable companies that offer free trials and a ‘learn’ function (such as CMC Markets), as well as good starting rates and minimum commission.

Harness your creative skills

With thanks to sites like Etsy.com it’s now far easier to monotise your creative talents and make a living doing what you love. From wedding dresses to soft furnishings to even just the humble greeting card, sites like Etsy give you a platform from which you can sell and reach a customer base. Start by identifying what it is you’re best at then work to establish your own identity, thinking about the type of customer you want to attract and the message you are trying to communicate. Investing in quality photographs has been identified as the most important factor by successful Etsy sellers, so ensure that your work is best represented. Be sure to put emphasis on customer service, as success on sites like Etsy is run largely on reviews. Think about what you as a customer would look for. A friendly thank you email, thoughtful packaging and keeping customers up to date throughout their order are just a few ways to ensure customer satisfaction.

It might take you a little while to get your feet off the ground, but rest assured that many successful brands have started out on similar sites, the popularity of which is growing due to the rise in consumers looking to buy direct.

Get green fingered

It might surprise you, but in recent studies one of the highest ranking jobs in terms of overall happiness and job satisfaction was gardening. Flexible working hours, a sense of achievement and working with nature are some of the positives cited that make gardening such a happy profession. For those that long to be outside rather than stuck at a desk 9-5, gardening could provide a welcome change of scenery. It might not pay the best, but if a sense of satisfaction and healthy work/life balance is more important than salary then this could well worth considering as an alternative career change. If this – along with being outside in all seasons and weather conditions – appeals to you, see if there are any opportunities in your local area, or alternatively search online to see if any horticultural organisations (such as The Garden Club of America) are hiring.

As with any career change, transitioning to an alternative career requires much consideration and planning to ensure that you’re able to choose something that’s both suitable and viable. Consider your current skillset and experience. While your motivation might be to escape the rat race, it’s important that it can actually pay the bills too. If you’re concerned about the time and expense associated with re-training for a potential alternative career, be sure to do your research and seek advice from someone who is already established within the industry. It could be as simple as popping into your local coffee shop and asking how the baristas got started, but it’s important that you have full understanding of any necessary skills or qualifications before embarking on a career change. If you can, it’s wise to have a resource of savings to fall back on while you find your feet. Remember that while an alternative career can be extremely well paid, the focus is taken from salary to quality of life. But once you’ve made that shift, you may never look at work the same way again.

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