How Emily Crushes 4 Careers (NGO, DJ, IT Professional, Educator)

by | Mar 30, 2020

Meet Emily Jones Joanisse. She’s a multi-careerist who balances (and thrives with) four vocations. Here’s the executive summary:

  • Emily’s four careers: (1) nonprofit founder and CEO; (2) restaurant and club DJ; (3) IT professional; (4) educator
  • Personal Philosophy: Meet new people, learn new things.
  • The Journey: After losing her IT job in the 2008 financial crisis, she went from 2 careers to 4. Her additional career(s) have been lifelines.
  • Key Advice: Don’t chase the money. Your second career should help you discover and follow your passion(s).
  • Find the breaks: Don’t waste a minute of your day. Downtime is a treasure which you can use to help others. Use it wisely.
  • Cross benefits: Increased emotional intelligence. Use the paycheck from your day job to supplement your additional career(s).
  • Shhhh…Don’t overshare about your dual career. You don’t want to be seen as a circus freak.
  • A Day In The Life: Up at 4:45 am during the week, 7 am on weekends. Emily’s mind is working nearly 24/7.


I met Emily via LinkedIn. After reading the my newsletter that profiled Matthew Mayer, we struck up a conversation. It instantly made sense to feature her in this edition because she exemplifies what it means to have a portfolio career.

Emily’s 4 careers:

  • Nonprofit organization – She is the CEO and co-founder of Connected Canadians which provides free technology training to senior clients via volunteers, who are mainly new immigrants to Canada.
  • Freelance DJ – She works in clubs and bars in Canada and Europe, serving up stylish music to diverse audiences. When she lived in Milan, Italy, she was the resident DJ at a five-star hotel. She has a monthly residency at an Ottawa-based restaurant and performs at a couple of galas every month.
  • IT professional – She started as a programmer and later transitioned into management, working at several software companies.
  • Educator – She has taught both technology and management at elementary and college levels, respectively.

Personal Philosophy

Multi-careerists generally enjoy meeting new people and learning new things. Emily is no exception. “From selecting vintage soundtrack music for movie stars, to helping low income seniors learn how to use a cell phone, I enjoy interacting with and learning from all sorts of people,” she said.

The Journey

Emily got her first programming job as a high school student, working for her father (who is a physicist). She began her DJ career in university, as she finished her computer science degree. When she lost her high-tech job while living in Italy during the great financial crisis of 2008, she became an IT teacher for students in kindergarten to sixth grade. She moved back to Canada and completed her MBA. Meanwhile, she continued to teach management part time. In 2018, she co-founded a non-profit organization, Connected Canadians. “In the last sixteen years, I’ve typically had three careers at one time, sometimes even four,” she said.

Key Advice

“Secondary careers are most satisfying when they feed your passion,” said Emily. While money may follow, it’s important to take on a second vocation that you find rewarding. “Your main motivation should be to find joy,” she said. If you aren’t having fun with your second job, it will be hard to find the motivation to continue.

Always Being On

Emily cares deeply about all of her careers. She doesn’t necessarily segregate her activities. This resonates with me because I try to perform all my careers at the same time. I know that sounds weird or frenetic, but I can use the down time in one vocation to advance another career.

For example, while Emily is DJing a party on a Saturday night, she may also respond to inquiries from her day job on her phone. Or when she’s on her lunch break at her day job, she may respond to clients of her NGO. “For traditional nine-to-fivers, this can be hard to relate to,” she reflects. She also observes that being “on” can detract from time with the family. “I try to turn off my devices to take some much-needed downtime.”

Cross Benefits

“All of my experiences have helped me build emotional intelligence and better problem-solving skills,” says Emily. “My multiple careers have given me insights into industries and roles that I otherwise would have known very little about.” She works with an incredible cross section of institutions and people: universities, government agencies; hospitality and event industry employees; senior care and retirement homes. Because she’s always meeting new people, she’s learning new things which helps to keep her engaged in her many careers.

Money is another benefit. She uses her income from her IT and DJ jobs to supplement her NGO activities.

Emily is the co-founder and CEO of NGO Connected Canadians

Don’t Overshare

Sage advice from Emily: Don’t overshare about your careers. “You can be perceived as a circus freak if you open up too much, too soon,” she said. She’s right that some people will never be able to process that you have – and care deeply about – multiple vocations. “If you realize that someone will only respect you in the one context that they’ve initially met you, then don’t force it.”

A Day in the Life


  • 7:00 am – Wake up, shower and dress. Review slides for the day’s Connected Canadians digital literacy workshop and adjust any last-minute items. Respond to volunteers and clients. For example, reply to those who have applied to be volunteers to get their police checks started. Check voicemail to ensure a prompt response to any anxious senior client messages.
  • 8:50 am – Drive to the local bakery and pick up pastries for volunteers. On the way to the retirement community, listen to entrepreneurial podcasts on the way.
  • 9:30 am – Arrive at partnering retirement community. Bring pastries and stand-up banners inside, and along with her co-founder, set-up for the workshop, welcoming the volunteers.
  • 10:00 am – Seniors arrive. Assist with workshop delivery where needed, take photos and videos to help profile NGO activities for social media. From issues with flip phones and laptops with Windows 95, to shiny new iPads and smartphones, client questions will keep all the volunteers busy.
  • 12:30 pm – Grab a bite with volunteers at a nearby coffee shop and head to her video editor’s house to work on the initial edits of the videos from that day’s workshop.
  • 3:00 pm – Head to hairstylist for a wash and blow dry in preparation for her DJ gig that night
  • 4:00 pm – Head to Sephora for makeup. Discuss upcoming joint technology workshop between Connected Canadians & Sephora with management team while getting makeup done.
  • 5:00 pm – Head home to prep for DJ gig, listening to any new music on the drive home
  •  6:00 pm – Eat dinner with the family
  •  7:30 pm – Head to DJ gig
  •  8 pm – Midnight – Play music for those at the bar, from bossa nova, funk and soul to deep house and instrumental hip hop, while welcoming regular clients and friends who drop by to have a drink. May finalize the social media post for that morning’s Connected Canadians workshop during one or two particularly long tracks, or respond to any NGO community partner questions.
  • Midnight – If feeling energetic enough, go to another club to dance and check out the music of one of the other DJs playing that night.. Otherwise, head home with my husband.

DJ Emily Jones at the Taste for Hope Gala

Find Emily on Social Media

Questions & Referrals

  • How is Emily’s journey similar to yours?
  • What questions do you have for her? (Ask in the comments below)
  • If you know a multi-careerist (or are one) who who wants to be featured, let me know via LinkedIn messenger.