We often associate multiple jobs with making ends meet. For many, however, having two jobs is a choice that can enrich life — and career prospects — in many ways.
These three people show us how two gigs can work together.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Neumann is a professional dancer, singer and actress with many Broadway, television and film credits under her belt, and this Midtown West resident also juggles a career as an in-demand freelance writer.
“I was already dancing professionally when I was in college. So I wanted to get my degree in something different. It was less of a fallback and more of a concurrent plan,” she said of her journalism degree from the University of Maryland. “I’ve always been a prolific writer, so it was natural for me to go in that direction.”
By the time she finished college, Neumann had already seen her first published magazine article and decided to move to New York City to pursue both careers simultaneously. “Somehow, knock wood, it worked most days. I’ve been on four Broadway shows, done six national tours, worked on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, and written hundreds of nationally published articles and two books,” she said of her 20-plus years of making careers has both fields.
This jack of all trades said it’s important to have the references to back up anything you want to do professionally. “Take classes, educate yourself, get certified,” she explained.
It’s also important to be disciplined. “I make it a rule never to meet deadlines, and I often work odd hours to get things done,” she added.
Neumann enjoys new challenges, so the “balance of having different careers to switch between” works for her.
Also, “I’ve had a lot of injuries as a dancer,” she continued. “It was an incredible blessing to be able to use my brain to work when my body wasn’t cooperating.” Not to mention that Broadway was closed during the pandemic.
“Thanks to the dual career opportunities, I was always able to keep my head above water. Also, I’m a creative and it’s difficult to survive financially as a creative. I think this hybrid model is necessary if you want to make it in creative fields.”
Working weekdays from Flushing, Queens, Shirshikov is a strategist at Awning.com, a Silicon Valley startup that helps investors find, buy, furnish and manage rental properties. Weekends head to Riverhead, LI to swap computer work for field work.
“My second job is as a farm hand on a dairy farm,” he said. “There I do all sorts of manual work, from tending the cows to shoveling manure, milking, cleaning, washing and maintaining various facilities.”
Having jobs that are completely opposites offers Shirshikov the opportunity to create a more fulfilling work life. “It challenges my body and willpower to work long days on a farm. It also lets me get out into nature and breathe some fresh air,” he said, adding that he sees cell phone accessibility as another plus.
“The other job is very stimulating mentally, but leaves me sitting most of the day. It also supports me financially as farm workers don’t make enough to live in NYC,” he added. He believes the jobs complement each other in many ways. “One helps me to recharge my batteries for the other, and I often get my best ideas and insights on the farm,” adds Shirshikov.
To build a dual career, Shirshikov is an advocate of going out and asking people if they need help. “Whether it’s a gym, a farm or a bakery, everyone needs help. If you gain someone’s trust, they will offer to teach you more skills,” he said. “Learning these skills gives you access to more work. The process is a self-reinforcing cycle.”
Carpenter, a certified personal trainer and product manager at Amazon Halo (Amazon’s fitness tracker) based in Seattle, began working for the company in the summer of 2018, initially as an outside contractor, dividing his time between Amazon and training clients at the gym. Much of the work he did with Amazon consisted of analysis and labeling related to the tech giant’s fitness content.
“When I switched to my full-time job after about 10 months, I became a specialist in the fitness industry. This new role has allowed me to apply my expertise to ensure the fitness perspective is accurately represented across all of our service offerings,” said Carpenter of his role, which helps the team define the user experience.
As a product manager, he can use his expertise “in different and exciting ways,” he says.
“I’m more involved in identifying serious customer issues and defining the new features we want to develop.”
The path to success has not always been easy. “When I finished college with an illustration degree and started building a freelance career, everything felt scary and uncertain,” said Carpenter. “I realized that I was spending a lot of time in the gym to relieve stress and thought it would be sensible to turn that into a side hustle. The sideline finally gripped me more as I found my way into certain corners of the field as a rehabilitating and performance-oriented coach.”
When Carpenter first started working at Amazon, he shifted most of his client time to evenings and weekends. “I’ve made my hours more flexible so I can accommodate my clients even when the office is busy,” he said.
His love of learning has served him well on this unique journey. “I once heard that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room, and I feel like I’ve been in the right room for a while!” Zimmermann added. “Whenever I can, I take more courses in training and love the material and learning new methods.”
Boundless curiosity will also take you far.
“I’m by no means a tech expert by background or education, but I really feel like part of the team that has a lot to offer,” he said. “It just took an openness to the opportunity when it presented itself.”