Meet Orianne Dutka. She’s a multi-careerist based in California.
We’ve known each other for years, and I’ve always been impressed with her thoughtful and reflective writings.
- Writer of novels, screenplays, and short stories
- Writing coach and memoir writer for private clients
- Medical practice coordinator
- Amateur distance runner (half and full marathons, ultramarathons)
- Amateur violinist in a community orchestra
- Mom to a toddler
On her motivations for many careers
Having multiple careers brings me inspiration from different spheres, allows me to connect with a greater number of fascinating people, and exposes me to a wider variety of ideas and perspectives.
It has helped me to better discern what I enjoy and what is not a good fit for me. Even though my writing has not sold yet, I am still able to make financial contributions to my household from my other careers.
Finally, I have always felt more fulfilled when I am tending to varying facets of my intellect, creativity, and interest.
Advice to aspiring multi-careerists
There is nothing wrong from stepping away from one of your careers for a while if you need to put more energy and attention into another one.
When the time is right, you will find your way back to the work that is meaningful to you.
Try not to compare your journey or how long it is taking with others’ paths; how you feel about yourself on the inside will never fairly stack up to how you evaluate others from the outside.
Patience is a key part of the process.
One of my favorite quotes is from the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, who stated, “Patience is also a form of action.”
On overcoming obstacles
I started my professional career as a lawyer. Lacking life experience and self-confidence, I initially followed the advice and guidance of others about finding a stable and respectable career.
Deep down, my gut was telling me that the law was not a fit for me, but I was too scared to listen to it. I tried working at a large law firm, for the Federal government, and at a nonprofit and found that I was unhappy in all three sectors.
I had always written on nights and weekends, played in orchestras, and started distance running, and I was always happier at any of these pursuits than in the law.
When I finally decided to make writing my focus and to leave the law, not everyone I knew agreed with my choice. I realized that I needed to stop caring so much what the naysayers thought and turn to those who were supportive of me.
On how careers are mutually beneficial
Having multiple careers has been invaluable to me.
Each career has enabled me to develop a skill set that I have been able to apply to another career or to some other part of my life.
For example, when my daughter was born prematurely and needed to stay in the NICU, we faced significant bureaucratic obstacles.
I had to advocate for our family with the administration of the hospital to ensure that our needs were met.
My experience arguing in court made me far more capable at representing our concerns in the NICU than I would have been otherwise, and I was able to convince the hospital to offer a solution that worked well.
On finding balance
This has honestly been a struggle for me, especially because my child is so young. I have realized that I cannot always split my time evenly and that there are phases where my daughter will need more of my attention, especially during the early years.
But focusing less on one career and/or temporarily sidelining others does not mean that I am any less committed to my multiple careers or professional advancement; instead, it means that I need to remain flexible in prioritizing the different parts of my life in accordance with what I can manage in a healthy and sustainable way.
As my child gets older and needs me less, I will continually reassess my work-life balance. Asking for help and giving myself permission to meet my own needs has been vital both as a parent and a professional.
On what she wished she knew earlier
Early in my career, I did not realize that dual careerism was a legitimate option.
I often felt out of place because I did not know others who were pursuing dual careers.
I wish that I had made more of an effort to seek out people who maintained dual careers and had transitioned from the legal world into different fields.
Figuring out my career path would have been much less lonely.
Overcoming the stigma of multi-careerism
As a lawyer, I found that there was a pervasive pressure in the profession to eat, sleep, and breathe your work, and whenever I professed to having outside interests, my superiors questioned my dedication to my legal career.
On one occasion, when applying for a legal job, my interviewer told me that she was not going to recommend me because she believed that only people who were singularly focused on the law could succeed at her firm.
Over time, I realized that I needed to find the confidence to trust myself and what felt right to me.
Eventually, I decided to leave the law entirely, and I have found more receptivity to my efforts to maintain multiple careers in other fields.
On how to sublimate ego
This is not something I have always done well, but I have learned that adjusting your mindset is key.
Remembering the purpose of the day job is important; a day job may provide income or serve as a stepping stone to something else.
It is also helpful to find small aspects within a day job that can make it more meaningful.
For example, I was able to pursue pro bono volunteer work while working at the law firm and for the US government that I truly did enjoy.
Furthermore, there are always opportunities to learn and grow in any job if you are willing to look for them.
A Day in the Life
My schedule varies significantly from day to day and what responsibilities demand more immediate attention. Here is one recent example.
- 6:30 AM – Wake up
- 6:30–8:45 AM – Cuddle in bed with my daughter, morning playtime, breakfast, social media
- 8:45 – 9:15 AM – Go for a run with my child in the running stroller
- 9:15 – 9:30 AM – Pack my daughter’s lunch and activity bag, transition time for her to her nanny
- 9:30 – 9:45 AM – Shower, Wordle
- 9:45 – 11:30 AM – Work on my novel
- 11:30 – 11:45 AM – 15-minute abs workout
- 11:45 AM– 12:15 PM – Lunch, read the news
- 12:15 – 1:15 PM – Call new patients for the medical practice and set up their files, call insurance company about billing issues
- 1:15 – 1:45 PM – Run to the post office and hardware store
- 1:45 – 3:00 PM – Work on my novel
- 3:00 – 5:15 PM – Wake my daughter up from her nap, take her to the playground
- 5:15 – 7:00 PM – Cook, eat dinner, family time
- 7:00 – 7:45 PM – Bath and bedtime routine for my daughter
- 7:45 – 10:00 PM – Do the dishes, work on billing for the medical practice, write e-mails
- 10:00 – 10:45 PM – Write in my journal and read for pleasure
- 10:45 PM– Bedtime
Where to find Orianne
Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner, as well as New York Times bestselling author.