The traditional approach to working has been upended not only by the COVID-19 pandemic, although that has certainly accelerated trends toward remote work and flexible arrangements, but by a focus on skills over positions. Increasingly, employers are looking to find candidates who are adept at specific skills needed to succeed in their organizations, and workers are more and more looking to expand their skill sets and showcase their abilities in numerous roles. It’s about staying relevant, pursuing multiple passions, and maintaining career options and flexibility. This trend is called a portfolio career.
What Is a Portfolio Career?
A portfolio career is one that allows workers to develop and utilize multiple skill sets and turn each into an independent revenue stream. The work might be quite varied and can involve any combination of full-time, part-time, and freelance work. Ultimately, a portfolio career speaks to a worker’s desire to grow multiple parts of their expertise and experience at once and to not be limited by the opportunities in just one track.
Ricklyn Woods, a career advisor at the University of Phoenix, left her corporate role in April 2020 in order to build an intentional portfolio career that would allow her to simultaneously focus on coaching, consulting, and a podcast. All are related to human resources, her area of expertise, but allow her to use and develop different skill sets.
Woods said a mindset focused on creating new opportunities helped to inform the direction she would move in and make space for those opportunities to arise. “When I first started my private practice as a career coach, I didn’t know I’d work at the University of Phoenix,” shared Woods. “But had I not taken that step to cultivating that experience, then I probably wouldn’t have been qualified for this position. I didn’t know this was coming.”
How Professional Development Courses at the University of Phoenix Contribute to a Portfolio Career
Portfolio careers may not always be intentional, but they can arise as workers discover their aptitude for certain in-demand skills, take professional development courses that lead to certification, and market their skills. The University of Phoenix helps workers interested in a portfolio career sharpen their skillsets through a number of courses and tracks in marketing, healthcare, education, and information technology. These non-credit courses are short, self-paced, and skills-based, and they provide students with the tools to market their skills or to pass certification courses.
Marketing courses and tracks cover such topics in search engine optimization, Google analytics, inbound marketing, and Google ads. In healthcare, courses include electronic medical records, medical coding, and billing. Education courses focus on digital teaching skills and corporate learning design. Information technology courses provide all the fundamentals in Scrum, a project management framework used for software development. Each of the courses takes about 30 hours to finish and comes with a money-back guarantee.
The Portfolio Career Represents a New Approach to Working
Even before the pandemic radically altered work expectations, there was a major shift toward people choosing to be self-employed. A 2019 survey by accounting software company FreshBooks found that 24 million Americans would choose to work for themselves if they could. Today, workers have even greater expectations for flexibility and remote work opportunities. And with worker shortages in high-tech careers, they wield a lot of power in the job market. Job shortages and growing needs allow competitive fields, such as data scientists and cybersecurity experts, to demand top salaries even while living outside traditional tech hubs like Silicon Valley.
With increased flexibility and work-from-home arrangements, workers are increasingly optimizing their skills to branch out into new directions, supplementing their income or trying out new career paths. As Woods said: “People are starting to get their creative juices going, researching what they can do to still be able to make a living without being forced to do something they don’t agree with.”
Even if some of these side pursuits are not immediately lucrative, workers are finding themselves with space to explore new outlets that bring personal and professional satisfaction and could open new doors. For Woods, her podcast is a labor of love, but she says it brings her a feeling of real accomplishment. “With my podcast, I don’t make any money from it,” she said. “But [because of] the feedback that I get from the people who listen and the impact that it has on their careers, I probably feel most successful with my podcast.”
About University of Phoenix
The University of Phoenix is committed to advancing the educational goals of adult and nontraditional learners to help students navigate career options that best suit their interests. The University’s degree programs are aligned with numerous in-demand career paths including computer software, nursing, and business. The University also provides flexible start dates, online classes, and numerous scholarship opportunities to make it possible for anyone to get the degree they need to get ahead.
In addition, the University of Phoenix’s Career Services for Life® commitment provides students and graduates with the resources they need to be competitive in the workforce for no additional charge. These services include resume and interview support, career guidance, education, and networking opportunities. Numerous Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) provide University students and alumni with lifelong connections that can help them network and advance in their careers. For more information, you can visit www.phoenix.edu.