June 5, 2009
Should you bring your passion to the office?
If you've lost that loving feeling for your job but feel stuck there because of the economy, can bringing a passion or hobby to the office help?
Career expert Alexandra Levit says yes.
As Levit wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal column, "Bringing a side interest to work is one way to find more time to do what you love without putting your life on hold and your financial health at risk."
Levit gives the example of convincing your boss to let you flex your social media muscle on the job if you happen to be passionate about online marketing but your company has yet to get on Twitter or create a Facebook fan page. She also suggests seeking out coworkers who share your interest -- be it creating a company blog or greening the office -- and pitching your pet project to your boss as a team.
I've seen employees in completely unrelated roles spearhead the development of a corporate blog, an office recycling program, and a holiday food drive. I've also seen graphic design enthusiasts take it upon themselves to revamp their employer's internal Web site and grammar fiends create a companywide editorial style guide -- with the boss's blessing of course.
Obviously there's an added benefit to this: If you blend your passion with a project that somehow benefits your employer's image, productivity, or even profitability, management can't help but be impressed. And what employee doesn't want to be considered ingenious and invaluable these days?
That said, I'm well aware that many workers don't have the desire to sink one more ounce of energy into their taxing jobs, especially if they've been doing the work of three people for the past year. Besides, for some workers, "take on extracurricular projects" is already part of the job description.
But that's not the only downside of bringing an unrelated passion to your day job.
When you create a Web site, e-book, promotional video, or any other intellectual property for your employer, they own it. Sure, you can put the achievement on your resume, and you may get their permission to display your creation as a work sample in the future.
But if you already have a bit of amateur experience with a skill that's unrelated to your job, be it event planning, video production, or software programming, perhaps it's time you applied it to a project of your own. As long as moonlighting doesn't conflict with your employment contract, you might even make a little money in the process.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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