Dead-end Secondment

Polymaths and Multipotentialites, reflection, values, career services


There comes a point in every creative’s career where they hit a plateau and feel as if they need to make a change. Time and again, we’ve seen this affect all sorts of creative, polymathic individuals. They hit that point and suddenly, none of the familiar solutions that used to work can help them get out of that rut; they begin to struggle with strategically navigating and progressively growing within their careers. These are some of the brightest, most talented individuals – but at the lofty, executive levels of a creative career, it becomes about far more than just inborn talent and capability. A great deal of strategy now comes into play.

One increasingly common method polymathic creatives use is pursuing secondment opportunities. A secondment is a common path a lot of polymath individuals tend to go into with the hope of gaining new experiences and opportunities in their new field. However, secondments can quickly become counterproductive, especially for individuals in the creative field, who tend to fall for this trap. They end up volunteering free work in the hopes of opening new doors when in reality, this can lead their skill set to be taken advantage of by employers or clients.

Gina had this exact problem. When she came to us, she was in the midst of a 5-year attempt at shifting her career. She had been working in the Marketing Department, working primarily on advertisements and branding initiatives for years when realized that this career path no longer fulfilled her creative goals. After some thorough research, she ultimately discovered that she wanted to go into UX/UI design. Gina tried all the usual steps individuals take when changing career paths: she got certifications in UX/UI design, networked with other creatives in this field, and finally began doing secondment work.

Initially, secondment seemed to be the most promising option so she started doing more of it. What started as volunteering for different departments quickly turned into more responsibilities shoveled onto her plate. Occasional overtime turned into 40 hour work weeks and then slowly started bleeding into her weekends. Gina was generating fantastic results this whole time, winning new accounts, and mitigating risk – but despite all this, she was still not able to successfully transition into a UX/UI designer position. She carried on like this for far too long because she felt inclined to stay due to the prestige of the company name and the continued hope of a possible opportunity. It got to the point where she was burnt out and fed up, working crazy hours and getting nowhere. Gina was in a position where she was clearly being exploited for her skills. For creative individuals especially, there is a fine line between volunteering and giving too much.

For creatives the abundance of choice and options for secondment work can lead to major roadblocks and setbacks. Gina recognized this and with Yeh IDeology’s Thrive By Design program, she was able to move past that initial setback and unlock her potential. She learned to be strategic about the projects she was taking on, analyze and identify possible avenues for growth, and build a successful game plan that strategically addressed her challenges and aspirations specifically. Through this process, she was able to build on her career goals and develop customized techniques that brought her closer to reaching her goals. Within a few months of joining the TBD program, she learned to strike that balance and was finally winning the opportunities she so wanted in the UX/UI space.

Developing a career involves so much more than just having the right skills and when people don’t have other aspects dialed in, it not only thwarts professional career trajectory, but also affects income and lifestyles. Often times when creatives are looking to change career paths, secondment work seems to be the easiest path to take. Polymathic creatives often rush towards the first opportunity they see in fear of not getting any opportunity at all. We've all been there, hastily making important decisions based on fear: fear of making the wrong decision, fear of missing out on something better after we've made our choice, and of course, the irrational, yet increasingly common, fear of running out of opportunities all together. What many of us fail to realize, however, is that in an expanding international employment market, the opportunities for employees to broaden their work horizons have never been greater. This so-called paradox of choice is one of the prices we pay for living in a society that gives us so many different options. If you feel overwhelmed by the many viable paths you can take, don’t worry – you are not alone! Instead of hastily saying “yes” to every single opportunity, take time to evaluate your options and ask for help when you really need it. To take that first step into clarity in your career, schedule a free Strategy Call today!

Tagged: Polymaths and Multipotentialites, reflection, values, career services

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