It seems we’re living in the era of side hustles. Everyone is encouraged to follow their passions in their spare time, and high-school kids are told to dive into extra curricular activities to bulk up their resumes.
Yet, when we enter the workforce, many of us simply can’t justify taking the time out of our lives to do ‘work’ outside the office.
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 25 years, and for most of this time I have been practising my profession outside of the office in some form. Whether it’s working pro bono, volunteering my services in the community, or speaking on various panels, all these experiences have helped shape me into the lawyer I am today.
No matter what you do, practising your work outside your day job will help to broaden your professional experience.
Here are just a few benefits you’ll see from practising your profession on the side.
Sharpening your skills
Practising your work outside of the office gives you greater opportunity to sharpen your professional skills.
Whether you’re volunteering your services for a local community organisation or freelancing on the side (if permitted of course), the work will help you develop your skills.
Particularly for those who are just starting in their career, these opportunities can accelerate professional development by providing ways to engage in wider communities and broaden interpersonal skills.
However, in saying that, no matter how experienced you may be, there are always learning opportunities when working on a project outside your day-to-day role.
Working outside the four walls of your office means you’ll be getting out into the community and meeting other industry professionals you might not otherwise get the chance to engage with.
Not only will you be learning from working with different peers, but building these strong relationships will also raise your profile in the industry.
This level of exposure can help move your career forward, both by impressing your current employers with your proactivity and by helping you connect with potential future employers. It’s also just a great way to make new friends.
Even if you love your job, doing the same thing day-in and day-out can get a bit boring. Most jobs also involve following your bosses’ orders, or serving your clients’ needs.
Practising your work outside the office means you have more variety in the projects you’re working on and also gives you more control. For instance, you can choose to volunteer your services to an organisation you’re truly passionate about.
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This kind of extracurricular activity can also differentiate you from competitors when looking for a new role or going for a promotion in your current company. It shows that you have experience doing a variety of work and is evidence that you are dedicated to your profession.
In client services industries, many employers also encourage volunteering and extracurricular experience.
Learning to balance
We all have to juggle multiple balls in life. Most working professionals also have jobs that require the ability to multitask and stay across various projects at once.
The more practice you have, the easier it becomes to organise yourself and balance the various bits and pieces.
By practising your profession outside the office, especially early on in your career, you will get used to balancing your day job with your other work.
It’s also good practice to help with keeping a good work-life balance more broadly.
Personal satisfaction in your day job
The opportunity to choose your projects and focus on something you feel passionately about will contribute to your overall wellness.
Not only do you feel you’re doing something worthwhile, it also contributes to the satisfaction of knowing you’re sharpening your skills and getting better at your job.
Being able to master a variety of work increases professional confidence — something that is also reflected in your performance at the office. Your increased personal satisfaction may even translate into job satisfaction.
Everyone who has worked pro bono, or even just done a friend a favour with their professional experience, will tell you of the personal impact that comes from helping someone when there is no financial reward.