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November 26, 2016

Master Of All Trades, Jack of None

Text by Huzan Tata

Is juggling multiple jobs the new normal for the modern NRI?

“I’m an MCom, my brother is a CA and CFA, my sister is an MBA, and I have a cousin who’s an LLB.” Is this a list of degrees or a random recitation of the English alphabet? Of course, it may impress that old ‘rishta aunty’ in search of a great catch for her sister’s brother-in-law’s daughter, but for the new generation, these run-of-the-mill qualifications do nothing.

The boring white-collar job is not cool anymore. Now, the larger your list of professions — add a few offbeat ones like comedian or yogi — the more people take notice. Sample this job profile of an Indian American I heard about: a double-board certified psychiatrist, addiction medicine physician, relationship therapist, writer, host, comedian and television personality. I have to admit, a brain doctor who also makes people laugh sure sounds fascinating. And there’s also a ‘writer, novelist, academic, poet, economist and artist’. Nope, I’m not jotting down my friends’ jobs — these are all the qualifications of one person. I have so many questions I wish I could ask her. After all, aren’t all novelists writers? And poetry is a form of writing too, isn’t it? Also, where did she find the time to do all this? What is it about having so many skills on the resume — is it a competition of whose is longer, or is it truly a case of ‘master of all trades, jack of none’?

I recently read about a British mathematician who conducted two yoga sessions, and now calls himself a yoga instructor (he’s also a ‘writer, traveller and academic’). Honest question: I’ve baked four cakes and fed them to several people, can I too add ‘baker’ to my CV? ‘Polymath’ seems to be the new buzzword to aspire to, and everyone’s in the race to learn and experiment with everything. Add things of real value to your resume. But if you usually cut open people for a living and your written word makes it to a newspaper column once in two years, don’t call yourself a ‘doctor and writer’. Meanwhile, I’m going to go add ‘reader, sleeper, avid movie-watcher and drama queen’ to my curriculum vitae….

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