We often associate working multiple jobs as a way to make ends meet. For many, though, working two jobs is a choice that can enrich lives — and career prospects — in many ways.
These three individuals show us how two gigs can work in tandem.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Neumann is a professional dancer, singer and actor with many Broadway, TV and film credits under her belt, and this Midtown West resident also juggles a career as an in-demand freelance writer.
“I was already dancing professionally by the time I was in college. So, I wanted to get my degree in something else. It wasn’t so much of a fallback plan as it was a concurrent plan,” she said of graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. “I had always been a prolific writer, so it was a natural fit for me to head in that direction.”
By the time she finished college, Neumann already had seen her first published magazine article and decided to move to New York City to pursue both careers simultaneously. “Somehow, knock on wood, most days it has worked out. I’ve been in four Broadway shows, done six national tours, worked on ‘Late Night With Conan O’Brien’ and have written hundreds of nationally published articles and two books,” she said of the 20-plus years she’s nurtured careers in both fields.
This Jane-of-all-trades said it’s important to have the credentials to back up whatever it is you want to do professionally. “Take classes, educate yourself, get certifications,” she explained.
Plus, being disciplined is essential. “I make it a rule to never default on deadlines, and I often work at weird times to get things done,” she added.
Neumann thrives on new challenges, so the “balance of having different careers that I can flip between” works for her.
In addition, “I’ve had many injuries as a dancer,” she continued. “It was a blessing beyond belief to be able to use my brain for work when my body wasn’t cooperating.” Not to mention that during the pandemic, Broadway was shuttered.
“I’ve always been able to stay afloat thanks to having dual career options. Plus, I’m a creative and surviving financially as a creative is tough. I think this hybrid model is necessary if you want to make it in creative fields.”
On weekdays, Shirshikov works remotely from Flushing, Queens, as a strategist at Awning.com, a Silicon Valley startup that helps investors find, buy, furnish and manage rental properties. Come weekends, it’s off to Riverhead , LI, to swap computer-based work for fieldwork.
“My second job is as a farmhand at a dairy farm,” he said. “There I do all kinds of manual labor, from caring for the cows to shoveling manure, milking, cleaning, washing and maintaining various facilities.”
Having jobs that are polar opposites affords Shirshikov the opportunity to craft a more fulfilling work life. “One is demanding on my body and my power of will to work through long days on a farm. It also lets me get out into nature and gives me the opportunity to breathe fresh air,” he said, adding that he considers being unreachable via cellphone another plus.
“The other job is very mentally stimulating, but leaves me sitting most of the day. It also supports me financially, since farmhands don’t earn enough to live in NYC,” he added. He believes the jobs complement each other in multiple ways. “One helps me recharge for the other, and I often have my best ideas and insights on the farm,” added Shirshikov.
To forge a dual-pronged career, Shirshikov is an advocate for going out and asking people if they need help. “Whether it’s a gym, a farm, or a bakery, everyone needs help. As you earn someone’s trust, they will offer to teach you more skills,” he said. “Learning those skills gives you access to more of the work. The process is a self-reinforcing cycle.”
Carpenter, a certified personal trainer and product manager at Amazon Halo (Amazon’s fitness tracker) who is based in Seattle, initially started working for the company in the summer of 2018 as an external contractor, splitting his time between Amazon and training clients at the gym. The work he did with Amazon was largely analysis and labeling related to the tech giant’s fitness content.
“When I converted to full-time about 10 months into my role, I became a fitness industry specialist. In this new role, I was able to leverage my expertise to make sure the fitness perspective was accurately represented across our service offerings,” said Carpenter of his role supporting the team in defining user experience.
As a product manager, he gets to put his expertise to use “in different and exciting ways,” he said.
“I have more involvement in helping to identify hard customer problems and define the new features we want to build.”
The road to success hasn’t always been easy. “When I finished my college degree in illustration and started trying to build a freelance career, everything felt scary and uncertain,” said Carpenter. “I noticed I was spending a lot of time at the gym to de-stress and figured it would be sensible to turn this into a side hustle. The side hustle eventually took more of a hold on me, as I found my way into specific corners of the field as a rehabilitative and performance-focused trainer.”
Once Carpenter started working at Amazon, he moved most of his client hours to evenings and weekends. “I made my hours more flexible, so I could still accommodate my clients when things got busy in the office,” he said.
His love of learning has served him well as he blazes this unique path. “I heard once that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room, and I feel I’ve been in the right room for some time now!” Carpenter added. “Whenever I can, I take more coursework in training, and love the material and finding out new methods.”
Boundless curiosity will also take you far.
“I am by no means a tech expert by origin or education, but I do truly feel like a part of the team with a lot to offer,” he said. “It just took openness to the opportunity when it came.”