The Freedom of Flexibility: Customize Your Own Animal Welfare Career

By Paula Fitzsimmons

Like it or not, we’ve entered a new economy. Today’s workforce looks different than it did a decade ago – and remotely resembles the one-career-for-life model of the pre-1990s. An increasing number of workers are cobbling together part-time jobs, freelance gigs, and small business ventures in order to eke out a full-time living.

How the work landscape has changed

According to the Freelancers Union’s “Freelancing in America 2015 Report” about one in three Americans did freelance work that year. This in itself is substantial – but it’s even more so when you consider that the report doesn’t count other flexible work arrangements, like part-time, temporary, small business ventures, and telecommute opportunities.

About 40 percent of those surveyed say they freelance out of necessity. These numbers are likely a result of the rise in underemployment of the past decades – a phenomenon which has given rise to the so-called Gig Economy, a term attributed to author Tina Brown.

Then there are those of us with good reason to laud a flexible work style  – the freedom of being able to work on your own terms; being able to use different skills; and knowing you can fall back on one income if another falls through.

 

Orange butterfly

More options are available

It’s not always easy to be a flexer, nor is it for everyone – it requires focus, discipline, tenacity, and the willingness to market yourself. (And yes, even we introverts can market ourselves effectively.)

This is not to say traditional employment has become obsolete, including in the animal care and protection field. Vet clinics, animal shelters, and nonprofit organizations still rely on full-time workers to carry out their mission. This part hasn’t changed.

It’s just that if you do want the flexibility, you have more options than before.

Marci Alboher, author of One Person/Multiple Careers: The Original Guide to the Slash Career refers to this phenomenon as “slash careers.”  Instead of working at one job, this model lets you customize your own ideal career.

 

Mix-and-match to create your ideal animal career

The beauty of a flexible career model is that you don’t have to settle for one job or skill set. If you like conservation science and art, or taking care of animals and writing, you’re covered. Some of the categories you can choose from include . . .

• A part-time job at an animal shelter, vet clinic, conservation, or welfare organization

• A solo business. Read “Animal Lovers: Have You Considered Starting One of These Businesses?” for ideas on animal-related ventures you can start.

• Freelancing, consulting, independent contractor work. Psst . . . this category is not just for writers and artists anymore.

• Seasonal and temporary employment

• Telecommuting or remote work with an organization

 

The following combinations are just a few examples of flexible careers, but there’s really no limit to the different arrangements you can create . . .

• Solo dog walker / animal-themed craft creator and wholesaler

• Part-time vet tech at clinic or rescue / freelance animal health & well-being writer

• Nonprofit consultant / animal massage specialist at daycare center

• Seasonal conservation worker / part-time remote worker with an animal welfare organization

• Freelance nonprofit grant writer / part-time animal shelter worker

 

Your turn to brainstorm
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Remember, you can mix-and-match from any of the following work categories: part-time, telecommute, seasonal, freelance, and solo business.

 

  1. __________________ / _________________
  2. __________________ / _________________
  3. __________________ / _________________

 

What have you come up with?

 

A flexible work style is not always easy, but being able to customize your own career compensates for the drawbacks. Whether you opt for a traditional job or customized career, the animals need you.

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