How will your hobby improve your career prospects?

How connected are your hobbies and your work life? If the answer is, not at all, is that the way you like it?

Whether it’s learning to play the harmonica in mid-life or enrolling in a Salsa class, most of us treat our hobbies as a way of unwinding from whatever occupies our 9-to-5.

But if you let your hobby out of the box you’ve been keeping it in, or even choose to pursue a hobby in a new way, it might just change the way you work, or even bring you some extra income.

Your passions deserve room to grow

Have you ever surprised a work colleague by describing what you love to do in your spare time? Perhaps your hobby seems so completely disconnected from what you do for a day job, they just couldn’t put the two together in one person.

The truth is that few of us have day jobs that offer us the space we need to express the different dimensions of who we are. Some people like it that way; happy to find enough joy in their hobbies that they don’t need to look for much in their career.

We hear people talk about work-life balance as though the two are always in direct competition with one another, and the key is to prevent our work dominating too much.

While there’s truth in that, it’s also possible to develop a more cohesive approach to life, where the passions we cultivate through our hobbies carry over into the work we do, even if they’re not directly related.

Pursue your hobby on a deeper level

Do you see yourself as a creative? Too many people dismiss themselves as not being the creative type, thereby narrowing down their options and boxing themselves unnecessarily. In reality, creativity expresses itself in so many ways that we all just need to find the right mode of creative expression for us.

A gardener, a musician, a photographer and an interior designer equally deserve the label “creative”.

Distance learning is one way people are increasingly exploring their passions and their hobbies on a deeper level. Some people do this because they have time on their hands that they want to put to good use, without necessarily having the career benefits in mind. Others see this as a potential pathway to a developing their working life.

Brian Cooney didn’t need a degree in photography to make a living as a commercial photographer, yet he chose to take part in a distance learning degree through the Open College of The Arts.

“OCA has pulled me out of my creative comfort zone, made me think differently and expanded my vision,” says Brian.

Distance learning can give your creative side room to play, and if the work you do doesn’t change, the way you work still might.

You see a hobby – employers see character traits

Can you remember the type of questions you were asked in your last job interview? Any employer should be looking to find out a few pretty standard things about you:

  • What relevant experience do you have?
  • Why are you applying for this job?
  • How well do you understand the role you’re applying for?

But you don’t want just any employer. You want to work for a smart employer, and a smart employer wants a deeper understanding of who you are and what makes you tick.

They want to know things that your work experience alone might not tell them. Smart employers need answers to questions like:

  • How flexible are you?
  • What is your comfort zone and how willing are you to be stretched beyond it?
  • How confident are you?
  • What will it be like to work with you every day?
  • How quickly do you learn new things?
  • What kind of leader could you become?
  • Do you seem like someone they can trust?

Celia Rung studied painting through OCA. She says, “The course was not only a journey to more knowledge and skill, but also a personal journey to more open-mindedness, tolerance and respect towards art and people in general.”

Your hobbies and the way you pursue your passions say as much, if not more, about the kind of employee you are, as a carefully manicured list of places you worked, dates you worked there, and tasks you completed.

Making money from your hobby

Robert Sarll has now taken two of his hobbies to a deeper level through distance learning, and seen the benefits in ways he never expected.

Photography skills came in use at a family wedding and for photographs of residential properties when working for a Housing Association,” says Robert. “I was also able to use the confidence and skills gained from the painting course to put on an exhibition of art done by adults with learning disabilities as part of my work with a local authority.”

How do I know distance learning is right for me?

Try asking yourself a few simple questions:

  1. Do you have time in your schedule that you want to fill with a fresh challenge?
  2. Are you looking for a way to explore a passion with others, without necessarily needing to travel?
  3. Do you already have a hobby you love, but you want to know how to generate some additional income?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, distance learning might just be for you. You will benefit from a community of people like you, and tutors dedicated to helping you fulfil your potential.

Find out more about distance learning through the Open College of The Arts.

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