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Friday, August 10, 2007

Turning your hobby into a career


By Francis Kahihu

What is it that you like doing beside your mainline job or educational pursuit? That could be your hobby. A hobby is that activity that occupies your mind, body and soul when not engaged in your mainstream career. Hobbies are those activities that you create time for, and get involved in consistently.

I have perused through hundreds of CVs and checking on the last page where we usually indicate our hobbies, I get astonished at the lack of emphasis or hobbies suffer from. To many people, the hobby section is just a necessary inclusion onto the CV to make it resemble other CVs. Many times, we rarely give enough thought to exactly understand what our hobbies are, but since we are expected to show them on the resume, we record them with little thought.

Hobbies are an integral part of our career growth. They can be elevated to the status of a full fledged career, or used to boost our career prospects. During career counseling sessions, we endeavour to help the client understand what it is that they like doing. These interests have an interesting link with the careers people eventually settle on. Hobbies should not be treated as a by-the-way. They form a key building block on your career progression and hence should be recognized as a critical component to value.

Look at the world around us. We have over the years witnessed astronomical growth of economies catapulted by focused hobbies of persons. Consider the sporting and music industries for instance. Men and women are minting millions of shillings as a result of laying a due emphasis on the development and recognition of their hobbies. We have witnessed a trend where graduates have ‘dumped’ areas of academic training in favour of career pursuit through hobbies. We have numerous examples around us of architects turned musicians, teachers turned marathoners and engineers turned footballers. In other words, a hobby possesses an equal capacity as a mainstream area of study. At times, hobbies have been known to even pay better than the conventional careers

Our educational system has perpetually placed a very high premium of the academic performance. In fact, the rating of school performance in this country is primarily on someone’s performance in the classroom. Even those who excel in the pitch and track are labeled failures despite their capacity. This tendency has made society vilify involvement in growing our hobbies. How many times do you hear parents admonishing their children by telling them ‘ you did not go to school to play’. This is indeed detrimental as some of the students are uniquely endowed to succeed if they followed the path charted by their hobbies as compared to classroom prowess. We are all wired differently, and our lights will not go on if the wrong ‘batteries’ are used to switch us on.

Some of you have very strong hobbies, hobbies you passionately consider. It could be playing musical instruments, playing football, writing fiction or poetry, or even sightseeing and travelling. These hobbies represent some of the most lucrative sectors in the market today. Even hobbies that have been considered passive like watching football can be transformed into a career by engaging in a business like starting an enterprise where persons with a similar hobby can converge to watch soccer. We are all witnesses of the booming business that is clubs and hotels which have fitted DSTV decoders. The owners smile all the way to the bank after every day of premiership games.

Hobbies can also be used to bolster ones career. In an era when there is stiff competition not just in entering the job market, but also in being sustained in the payroll, employers are keen to keep employees who offer them more that just the service they were recruited for. There is appreciation of the positive publicity that an employer gets by virtue of their employees’ excellence in different extra-employment engagements, like sporting or corporate social responsibility. Some companies have been known to prefer employing candidates with certain extra-curriculum qualities in addition to the advertised requirements.

It is becoming common nowadays for people to have their hobbies serve as an extra stream of income. With this, they do not wholly rely on a single source of money. This trend has the benefit of providing the much needed sense of financial security so that you do not entirely rely on the monthly paycheck from your employer. This security eventually propels the individual to perform even better at the workplace, and at the same time fully exploit the who they are. Such a person lives to the fullness of their capacity.

Look at the last page of your CV again. What have you listed as your hobbies? Ask yourself how you can jumpstart the process of strategizing on a better use of these great resources. Do not let them rust. Polish them up, and you shall be surprised at the visibility you shall create towards yourself. Your market value will rise.

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