The Unlikely Cure for Burnout: A Second Job
Overemployment's underlying philosophy is critical of work
At the beginning of the pandemic, Sarah Murphy accepted a new role as a creative lead at a tech company. But when it came time to resign from her position in a different industry … she didn’t. “I felt trapped in the rat race, trapped in a certain career path, and just wasn’t really seeing a lot of opportunities for financial independence,” she said. “I knew that there was a certain amount that I could expect to make in my career, and then there were goals that I had that wouldn’t be attainable for another five to 10 years down the line.” So she decided to hold both positions at once. (Murphy requested a pseudonym in order to speak freely about her experience.)
Murphy managed this dual-role arrangement for about nine months—rolling back and forth between two separate laptops and exclusively marking her Slack status as “away” at both roles. The experiment gave her the chance to trial a new industry without going all-in. And she more than doubled her annual income to nearly $200,000, allowing her to save for a down payment and purchase her first home in one of the most expensive cities in the United States.
Murphy is one of the “over-employed”—employees secretly working more than one full-time job, aided by the rise of remote work ushered in by the Covid-19 pandemic. The phenomenon has become known through outlandish anecdotes: the software engineer working 10 remote jobs and set to earn $1.5 million in a year, the remote workers who “play Tetris with their calendars” to manage conflicts across multiple jobs, the startup leaders with distributed teams who discover that their software engineers have second jobs.
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