|Louise Gassman's part-time jobs include teaching a class, at SoulCycle on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. (Joshua Bright for The New York Times.)|
When someone asks Roger Fierro "What do you do?" -- which he knows is shorthand for "Where do you work?" -- he laughs. Then he says, "I do everything."
Whereas most 9-to-5ers have some kind of structure in their lives, each workday can be wildly different for him. On a recent day, he worked on and off from 7 a.m. to midnight, making business calls, working on the piñata store's Web site and visiting the vintage store, among other things. (To maintain his sanity, he made sure to schedule some "me" time from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8.)
"I have eight million things going on," said Mr. Fierro, who lives in the West Town area of Chicago. "It's exhausting. Sometimes I just want to take a nap."
Some portions of the population -- especially young, creative types like actors, artists and musicians -- have always held multiple jobs to pay the bills. But people from all kinds of fields are now drawing income from several streams. Mr. Fierro, for one, has a degree in international studies and Latin American studies at the University of Chicago.
Some of these workers are patching together jobs out of choice. They may find full-time office work unfulfilling and are testing to see whether they can be their own boss. Certainly, the Internet has made working from home and trying out new businesses easier than ever.
But in many cases, necessity is driving the trend. "Young college graduates working multiple jobs is a natural consequence of a bad labor market and having, on average, $20,000 worth of student loans to pay off," said Carl E. Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers.
"There are two types of people in this position: the graduate who can't get a full-time job, and the person whose income isn't sufficient to meet their expenses," he said. "The only cure for young people in this position is an economic recovery of robust proportions."
An entry-level salary often doesn't go very far these days. According to a study by the Heldrich Center, the median starting salary for those who graduated from four-year degree programs in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who graduated in 2006 to 2008, before the recession. (Try living on $27,000 a year -- before taxes -- in a city like New York, Washington or Chicago.)
Many earn even less than $27,000. Maureen McCarty, 23, who graduated from American University in 2010 with a journalism degree, makes $25,000 before taxes as managing editor of TheNewGay.net, a blog focusing on gay issues, with no benefits like health insurance or a 401(k). The salary doesn't cover her expenses, so she often baby-sits five nights a week for six families in the Washington area.
Without the baby-sitting jobs, she says, she couldn't afford to live in Adams Morgan, a hip neighborhood in Washington, or take a vacation: "I'm working in online publishing, an industry that is struggling to monetize, so if I want to do anything fun, like take a trip to New Orleans, I have to have additional income."
Juggling jobs has its perils. "I do sometimes get my schedules mixed up and will double- or even triple-book myself," Ms. McCarty said. Maintaining a social life can be challenging, and it might consist of "dragging a friend along while I run errands on a Saturday."
"Sometimes I do get burnt out from all of the juggling, but caffeine, for the most part, keeps me going," she said. "I try when I get to that point to take some time by myself even if it's just 30 minutes during lunch."
All told, Ms. McCarty says, she works 75 to 80 hours a week, a schedule more typical of investment bankers or lawyers aspiring to make partner in a firm -- but for just a fraction of the pay.
Between her salary at TheNewGay.net and the $5,000 she makes at her various baby-sitting jobs, Ms. McCarty has a pre-tax income of $30,000, or about $2,500 a month. More than $700 a month goes to the apartment she shares with two roommates.
Some months, however, when she doesn't have enough baby-sitting jobs lined up, Ms. McCarty has to make that "horrible phone call" to her parents to tell them that she can't make her rent.
LOUISE GASSMAN, 28, has a rotating schedule of multiple jobs: as an actress; as an assistant to dance instructors at the Circle in the Square and Juilliard schools; as a baby-sitter; and in a variety of administrative roles and as a spinning instructor at SoulCycle, an indoor cycling studio in New York.
Ms. Gassman's monthly income, which can vary greatly depending on whether she books an acting job, ranges from $1,800 to $4,000. Some months, almost all of her income goes to the $1,450 rent on her 290-square-foot studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Whatever is left after essentials goes toward paying off her remaining $16,000 in college loans.
"I worry about money all the time," Ms. Gassman said. "I live on a really tight budget, and I live paycheck to paycheck."
Periodically, the accountant who cuts her check at SoulCycle reminds her that someone her age should be putting away $300 a paycheck for retirement, an amount that is sometimes almost half of her pay. "I'm like, retirement?" she asks. "Then I have the 'Oh my God, Oh my God' feelings."
Ms. Gassman has come up with creative ways to save money. She has a policy not to spend $5 bills and instead puts them in a Tupperware container. So far, she's been able to use this cash to pay for a new air-conditioner, for three plane tickets, and for her dog to be neutered.
Mia Branco, 23, says she is always worried about money, even though she also works four jobs. She is the house manager at the Discovery Theater at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, teaches drama and music at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Md., supervises the box office at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company and works as a nanny.
Ms. Branco says she logs 40 to 50 hours a week, including travel time, and takes home $1,300 in a good month.
Still, Ms. Branco, who graduated magna cum laude with a degree in musical theater from American University in 2009, says she feels lucky to be employed at all. "The majority of the jobs I have right now are because people were laid off and they didn't want to hire back full-time employees," she said. "My willingness to have a hodgepodge schedule makes me more marketable."
But very few part-time employers offer health insurance, and job jugglers tend to worry: What happens if I become really sick or get into an accident?
At least Ms. McCarty is covered through her parents under the new health care law that allows anyone under 26 to stay on their parents' insurance.
Mr. Fierro still receives insurance from a teaching job he used to have, but it runs out in August. He doesn't know what he'll do after that.
Ms. Branco pays $89 a month for very basic health insurance that has a high deductible, the kind of plan that she says makes her "bank on not getting sick."
Ms. Gassman, who does not have health insurance and hasn't had a physical since 2004, says she is extra careful when crossing the street because anything medically catastrophic is simply not an option right now. "I can't afford to get hit by a taxi," she said.
ON the brighter side, when or if these job jugglers get on a career path, they may offer an attractive skill set: they are expert multitaskers, hyper-organized and often very knowledgeable in technology. Having multiple jobs is an exercise in mental dexterity.
Ms. Branco says that because of her four jobs, which require skills as diverse as developing lesson plans and mastering an online ticketing system, she has become more adept at dealing with a wide range of people and situations: "I've learned to be very adaptable, because one day I'm corporate, the next day I'm start-up, and the next day I'm nonprofit."
Mr. Fierro describes himself as "MacGyver." He might have to transport some furniture, "read and synthesize documents, find obscure bits of information on Google and give presentations in Spanish, all in one day," he says.
But beware: Too much multitasking makes it harder to sustain attention, according to Kirk Snyder, an assistant professor of communications at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, who researches the changing workplace values of Gen Y.
"I think being focused on more than one professional pursuit at the same time makes it easier to give up on those pursuits that take more effort or have a longer payoff curve because there are always other options to focus on," he said.
More damaging, however, may be the economics. A national study by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies found that young women who worked primarily in part-time jobs did not make higher wages in their 30s than in their 20s.
"The study was clear. Women don't benefit wage-wise from working part time," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University and a co-author of the study. The reason is that part-time jobs generally provide fewer training opportunities and often don't put workers on a track for advancement.
More college graduates are working in second jobs that don't require college degrees, part of a phenomenon called "mal-employment." In short, many baby-sitters, sales clerks, telemarketers and bartenders are overqualified for their jobs.
Last year, 1.9 million college graduates were mal-employed and had multiple jobs, up 17 percent from 2007, according to federal data. Almost half of all college graduates have a job that doesn't require a bachelor's degree.
The goal for most, Mr. Sum said, is to be upgraded to full-time jobs. "That is where there is the most payoff for a college degree," he said.
But full-time jobs don't suit everyone. Ms. Gassman, for example, has been offered a full-time job at SoulCycle, complete with full benefits, but she doesn't want it. "I wouldn't be able to go on auditions in the middle of the day," she explained. "Of course, it stresses me out not to have health insurance, but what is my choice? Work in an office and be unhappy? Being happy is a superhigh value to me."
Mr. Fierro is much happier now than when he was working as a bilingual reading specialist for a public school in Chicago. "I was working 12 hours a day and making $38,000 a year and it wasn't making a dent in the $120,000 in loans I had to pay off. Plus, I was miserable."
Mr. Fierro, who calls himself an "aesthetic consultant," would ultimately like to create his own line of merchandise, along the lines of Marc Jacobs. He is optimistic that he is more likely to achieve his goal by working on many projects than if he held a traditional job.
Ms. Branco says that while she is often exhausted and hasn't had two consecutive days off in months, she isn't ready to commit to one employer. "The jobs are allowing me to wander and figure out what I really want to do," she said.
Professor Snyder at Southern Cal doesn't see multiple job-holding as a trend that will disappear anytime soon.
"The likelihood of this generation devoting their professional life to just one job or career at the same time is simply counterintuitive to their worldview," he said. "I think we would be seeing this generation pursuing multiple jobs and careers at once even in a robust economy."
Still, is job-juggling really sustainable, particularly when the next stage of life hits and there may be a mortgage and children?
Ms. McCarty doesn't think so. She is looking for an end to her 80-hour weeks and meager paychecks. "I don't want to be 30 and working a bunch of small jobs so I can pay my bills," she said.
Posting Source : http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/113018/job-juggles-tightrope-nytimes