Saturday 17 August 2019

'Slashie' careers: Meet the midlifers proving career juggling isn't just for millennials


Double jobbing: John Heagney runs Cycle Holidays Ireland and is also a farmer
Double jobbing: John Heagney runs Cycle Holidays Ireland and is also a farmer
Lorraine Courtney

Lorraine Courtney

In the modern world of work, it's not just millennials who have multi-faceted careers. We may be most familiar with the celebrities who have fingers in different career pies, such as the model-slash-food writer Roz Purcell or the model-slash-actor-slash-novelist Cara Delevingne, but it's becoming a popular career move for midlifers too. Irish professionals are increasingly diversifying their occupations, improving their work/life balance and turning their hobby into a second job.

Blogger/social media editor/ podcast creator Emma Gannon's new book The Multi-Hyphen Method teaches that it doesn't matter if you're a bookkeeper with an online jewellery business or a nurse with a yoga school - we can all channel our own entrepreneurial spirit to have better lives. She argues these so-called 'hyphenated careers' provide a way of work that can suit everyone, and the options are limitless.

Model and author Roz Purcell. Photo: David Conachy
Model and author Roz Purcell. Photo: David Conachy

More than hobbyists, these career jugglers consider their cocktail of roles essential to their well-being and dismiss the notion they ought to focus on one thing for the rest of their adult lives as boring. They don't want or need to define themselves by one role.

While there aren't any official Irish figures, a survey by Coople, a British website for freelance staff hiring, found that 12pc of men and 16pc of women have more than one job.

John Heagney runs Cycle Holidays Ireland, guiding bike tours along the Wild Atlantic Way, but when people ask him what he does, he tells them he's a farmer. "It's ingrained in me," he says.

"Like an addiction, my grá for the land, the stock and the ties to my childhood have made me an incurable farmer. I set up the cycle tours to make money so that I could go on farming. I love running the tours, but farming runs deeper in me."

He admits he could probably make more money from renting out the land and just running the tours. But he can't let go of the farm in Portumna, Co Galway. "Those that went before me worked hard to hold the land in tougher times. I don't plan on letting them down."

What are the benefits of having two different jobs?

"A break is as good as a rest, or so the old proverb goes," says John. "You're in a better position financially when you have two things on the go. 9/11 really affected my cycling business but I was able to farm away then as usual. Then farming was wiped out by the foot and mouth crisis but I was able to fall back on the cycling while that was going on. It's always better to have two different incomes.

"There's very little social interaction with the cows, but the cycling means I'm always meeting new people."

Experts say the rise of the multifaceted career (or 'slashie') is down to the fact many people now must have an assortment of jobs in order to eat. But for many other people, one of their jobs pays the bills while the second provides more of a creative outlet.

Alan Foran is a business lecturer at CCT College by day and he balances it with something more entrepreneurial and risky by night. He's also the owner of a Mexican grocery and cooking school, Picado Mexican.

Alan's lecturing job is a solid earner to pay the bills and his side gig isn't so much about the cash as it is about building something into the future. "My two jobs are different, but they complement each other," he says. "With Picado Mexican, I am running a business. This means looking at everything from future business strategies and purchasing patterns, to how many people we have coming in for the next supper club and do we have enough toilet paper. Basically, dealing with lots of different things on the one day.

"As a lecturer I teach classes at set times, I mark assignments during the term and set exams as well, answer questions from students and update my lecture material. While there is structure, it's still varied and, of course, having different classes made up of different people, makes it very different and a lot of fun at times.

"Having a full-time paid job while kickstarting the business meant I was financially secure and had less stress," adds Alan.

"The last few years with Picado has been about growing the business and reinvesting, so having a second job does take some pressure off you. It has allowed the business to find its feet without financial pressures. It meant I could set up and grow the business but still pay a mortgage and have money for regular bills.

"I love my day job - I'm an academic at heart. I love sharing knowledge, exchanging ideas and having the chance to shape future entrepreneurs and managers. Running my business on the other hand, is like having my own private research playground."

Is working two or more jobs sustainable long-term? It ultimately comes down to why someone does it. Kate Ryan is a writer and a tour guide. She is also the founder of, a website dedicated to promoting West Cork food.

"The biggest chunk of my time is spent writing," she says. "That is my first love, so I usually say that I am a food writer and I also run experiential food tours and events. It's a combo that always sparks interest from other people.

"Every day is packed with action, but at the same time, it is varied so my days are always interesting," she says. "There's a good split between time I spend working solo and opportunities to be social - in real life and in my online life too."

Kate says that having different gigs keeps her busy, but it's a deliberate choice and is very fulfilling.

"I always wanted all three roles to merge into one thing: a love of food. Foodies are great company with each other - we never run out of things to talk about - so I find what I do really social. I've made so many new friends through the work I do, so although there is a serious side to what I do, it often doesn't feel like work."

Proof that a 'slashie' career can be a hugely rewarding way to make money.

Irish Independent

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