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The Gig Economy: What it Means and How to Survive It

Business

If you’ve heard of the gig economy before, you may not be sure if you’re apart of it. Are you a full time employee in a full time job? If not, you’re most likely within the “gig community” and may not have even known it.


According to Diane Mulcahy, professor of the “Gig Economy” class at Babson College in Boston, the gig economy covers anyone from a contractor, a consultant, a freelancer, a part time worker, and even on demand workers. Clearly it includes a lot of different professions, industries, sectors, and income levels.

Mulcahy is an expert on the gig economy, and has also written a book on the subject. To start off by giving you some of her wisdom, here are the ten “rules” Mulcahy lists to become successful in this economy.

1. Define your success

2. Diversify

3. Create your own security

4. Connect without networking

5. Face fear by reducing risk

6. Take time off between gigs

7. Be mindful about time

8. Be financially flexible

9. Think access, not ownership

10. Save for a traditional retirement, but don’t plan on having one

Now let’s look at some of these aspects in more detail. Creating your own security and thinking access, not ownership are two very big points in today’s day and age. Within the job market, full time jobs are actually decreasing in favor of people who can do the work on the side or part time. There are so many changes in the business world that you can’t rely on any one job or any one employer. Full time jobs aren’t going to disappear completely and most people will hold full time jobs at some point during their career, but that isn’t what graduating students these days should strive for.

Therefore: create your own security. Figure out what your skillsets and expertise are, then brainstorm what kind of gigs you can do. There won’t be the financial and job security for something such as buying a house or a car, but with more living and transportation options available, those things aren’t as necessary as they used to be.

“The gig economy is here: it’s growing, it’s growing quickly, and it’s here to stay.”

The gig economy is also an economy of skills. You really have to constantly keep track of what your skills are, what your expertise is, what your value to the market is, and what people are willing to pay you. This falls under diversifying yourself and defining your own success. Ask yourself, how can you gain new skills? How can you expand your network and develop new opportunities for yourself? Developing this mindset is the most important.

Also on Mulcahy’s list is connecting without networking. This is especially important for introverts who abhor situations where they have to walk around a crowded room, introducing themselves to people who might be important. Great news--you don’t have to do that anymore.

Writing is actually one of the best and easiest ways to make connections with people. This could be on social media--tweeting or having a dynamic Facebook page-- or it could be writing articles for an industry publication or a blog. If you’re comfortable with speaking, you could also put out podcasts to reach people. With these techniques, people will come to you, which also makes your audience much more targeted and relevant to you. You have to put yourself out there, but on your own terms.

So what are some other skills that are important to have as a “gigger”? Make sure you’re somewhat proactive in the entrepreneurial field, as gigging often goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship, and make sure you have the financial wherewithal to go out into the gig economy. Savings and a lifestyle that’s financially flexible is what makes surviving in the gig economy both successful and beneficial.

With all of this information to digest, there’s just one point left to take in: make sure to take time off.

“Time is the new money--that is the scarce resource that we all are facing.”

Whether it’s for a week or a year, give yourself time to figure out what you want and hone in the skills you need to succeed.

We all struggle with how to balance professional and personal lives, and the gig economy allows you so many more opportunities to do that effectively.

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Career

Momtors: The New Wave of Mentors Helping New Moms Transition Back Into Careers

New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.


Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.

Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:

"I didn't think you'd come back."

"You must feel so guilty."

"You missed a lot while you were out."

To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.

There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.

Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.

Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.

It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.

Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship

How to be a good Momtor?

Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.

Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.

Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.

Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.