Why I Choose to be Underemployed

blue haired woman

At the interview for my part-time job, the Director made it perfectly clear I was the most unlikely candidate he had ever interviewed. He was impressed by my qualifications and intelligence, but confused as to why I would want to work for him.

“You do realise you’re over-qualified for this position?” he pointed out. “Why would you want this job? Why not find something where you can actually use your degrees?” He then spent the next five minutes trying to convince me not to take the job, but ultimately hired me anyway.

Family and friends were no less confused. When I shared my excitement for landing my first non-freelance job in America, they were ecstatic. As soon as I told them what I planned on doing, the responses were mostly the same.

At first there was the initial shock, followed by the subtle implication that I deserve better; that I am too smart and too educated. Why not go back to payroll, where I can bring home up to $70,000 per year? Or why not apply for a job at a marketing or PR firm, since that’s what I love?

These are all sensible suggestions of course. So let me explain why – for at least the next year – I’ll be disregarding all of them.


One of the main themes I’ve constantly revisited on my blog is freedom: freedom to explore, to make my own decisions, to carve out time for my creative pursuits, and to do what I love for a living. After a year of this, why would I be in any great rush to return to corporate?

The truth is, I don’t need to. I’m 100 percent debt free, and live simply in a 600-square-foot home. This gives me the luxury of passing up on corporate offers to make time for other important things – like travel.


Another reason I deliberately chose a part-time job with few demands is that it leaves me plenty of time and energy to build a career. If I give 40 hours or more per week to build someone else’s company, and someone else’s dream, what will I be left with to build my own? Been there – done that. Hopefully, never again.

Even while working three shifts in two days last weekend, I still found time to dedicate to my hobbies and creative pursuits. I had the creative energy to work on posts like this, to complete assignments for clients, to edit my novels, and to lose myself in a book each night before bed.

Safety Net

As much as I love working on my own business, there’s one thing to be said of freelancing: there’s no such thing as a steady paycheck. I’ve had clients who refused to pay, who forgot to pay, and who tried to pay but then the check got lost in the mail.

Even with the best of clients, workload varies month-by-month and even day-by-day. This makes it difficult to plan ahead for regular expenses, like rent, utilities, and car payments. Bills wait for no man – or woman.

Thus, my part-time job helps me meet my financial obligations every month, while still leaving me plenty of time to do the things I love, with the people who love me.

Résumé Boost

Another great benefit of my job is the brand. I work for one company that provides a service for another. My employer is the largest in its industry in all of North America; and the client is a Fortune 500 company, occupying a beautiful skyscraper in the heart of the city.

If it’s one thing I’ve learned about doing PR and marketing work, it’s that brands can make all the difference in a résumé. It’s one thing to do IT work at a local office, for instance, but a whole other ball game to be the technician on call for Bank of America or Google.

So should my entrepreneurial ventures prove unsuccessful, I’m building a résumé to be reckoned with.

Networking Opportunities

Along with the prestigious place my employer and their client hold in the marketplace, their business is located in a wealthy part of town. This provides great opportunities to network with gatekeepers to success.

One of the ladies, for instance, recently went from working at the lobby to doing admin work in the office of a prestigious law firm. She met her new employer at her post, in the building.

Of course, I have no intention of being poached anytime soon, but making the right connections is an integral part of growing in any industry. Who knows? If I play my cards right, I could land my own Fortune 500 client, so I can put my feet up and relax.

People will no doubt continue to puzzle themselves with my decision. Some may even call it irresponsible – and that’s fine. Here’s the reality: I have no kids, no debt, already completed two college degrees, started my own business at 16, and have had the pleasure of watching it grow exponentially over the past year.

In short, I’ve spent the past 27 years doing the things I had to, so that at this point in my life, I can do exactly as I like.

How’s that for a measure of success? 

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88 thoughts on “Why I Choose to be Underemployed

  1. How smart you are to have figured that out so young. I often worked part time over my career but still in a stressful role. It didn’t always leave me with enough energy to deal with life but I made it work. The freedom of working on your own business and taking a lower level job is well worth it. I’m going to work in a winery next summer to help pay the bills while I keep learning to write and take pictures and I am so happy right now. I could never go back to a corporate job. Good luck with everything you are doing, very inspiring!

    1. Thank you Debbie! It’s great to see you taking a similar path. Working at a winery sounds amazing. I hope it affords you all the free time you need to work on your craft.

      Thanks again!

  2. Me thinks you’re too mature/too wise for your age! Add that to the over-qualified. 🙂 I wish I figured this out when I was younger. This is the right way to build your empire :), to work on your dreams.

    I quit my job completely in 2003 to try it alone and I went back to working. Then I tried in again in 2006/2007, taking on a job as a bursar (which I don’t include in my CV) but I got sucked in again, accepting a tempting offer to a senior management position. I left again in 2010… same thing. You’d think I’d remember that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result! Hah! I’m back to working but I haven’t given up. I am not giving up my day job until the business is thriving and self-sustaining. Unlike you, with your wisdom, I have a lot of debts even my business partner gets scared just knowing. Haha!

    I am sure that you are well on your way to making your dreams come true and this old lady will be learning from you and hopefully, we’ll be heading the same direction. 🙂

    As always, I look forward to more enlightening posts from you. And the next installment of your book.

    1. Thanks again Anne! I’m afraid I’ve heard all my life that I’m too mature for my own good haha. This happens when you’ve been on your own and in college by 16.

      I got lucky with the escape of debt. I threatened my mother with dropping out of college if she made me get a student loan. I told her, “If you can’t afford it now, I can’t afford it later with interest.” So she worked miracles to make me finish without loans. It was tough though. I lived on $500 per month!

      I’m sure you’ll find your way soon, and that the business will take off. What kind of business is it?

      1. It’s really a compliment 😊 See, even then you were wise! 😊
        We’ve tried construction and found it too challenging especially trying to get work from government. I did some consulting but currently full time. We also had a recruitment agency then it was dormant and we’re trying it again.
        We’ve figured out though that we should be looking at products for the public as consumers instead of government and/or corporate so we’re looking at something using mobile apps as a vehicle to deliver the service. I attended our Finance Conference for Africa recently and everything is about digitizing and automation.

      2. So you’ve covered quite a number of fields! I decided to start with what I’m good at and go from there. So far that’s been good. I also helped other startups get off the ground, so should they succeed I have a hand in the pie!

      3. I started with editing papers in college so they sounded more “scholarly”. A lot of people struggled with the transition from high school writing to college writing, and the MLA formatting. Then I started tutoring.

        And then I got into blogging, social media, website building etc. It’s been a blast! 🙂

        Start small, grow big. That would be my advice. All the best! 🙂

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