Zeit co-founders Ambika Nigam and Christina Nizar recently sat down with the co-hosts of the “For the Love of Freelance” podcast, Tia Meghan Grado and Lisa Ann Markuson, to chat about deciding what you want to do—which is not an easy task.
While this conversation centered around the context of choosing your niche as a freelancer, listeners walked away with actionable advice on how to choose your niche in both freelance and nine-to-five career paths.
Before you dive in, sign-up for our free workshop "How to Identify Your Niche".
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest takeaways from this illuminating conversation or check out the full podcast episode here.
“People are bringing their entire selves to work, their interests, and their passions on the outside,” Ambika explained, “So as an individual, it can be really difficult to understand what threads you really do want to double down on.”
So how can you choose which areas to focus on? An important component of both the Zeit Discovery Program and Positioning Program is helping our cohorts discover what their majors and minors are.
To explain what a major is, Ambika posed a clarifying question, “What are the things that you want to double down on?” Both majors and minors are important skills and areas of focus for both freelancers and those pursuing full-time employment.
Christina and Ambika recommend choosing one major as your main area of focus and two to three minors. Your minors may be supplemental skills that complement your major or ones that you pick up in a side hustle or a hobby, they don’t necessarily have to relate to your major.
According to Ambika, in some cases a minor may turn into your major,
“I think people treat minors right now as kind of this experimentation and if it’s like, could that be something that could turn into a major? What needs to be true for that to be turned into a major or for it to take on like a bigger sphere in my life?”
Many of us allow stigmas to influence what our niche is, which can be really harmful. For example, we’ve worked with multiple moms in our programs who fear that because of a two or three year gap of employment, they won’t be able to return to the workforce or make a pivot into a new niche, which simply isn’t true and that mindset is unfortunately holding them back.
“That's one of the major issues,” Ambika noted, “Removing that stigma of, if you have a gap of a year or two, it's okay. There's still so much value that you bring in, I think, after becoming a mom.” Ambika explained that a lot of people want to do something different with their careers, but they just don't know how to start and they don't know that they have the confidence that they can do that.
“Freelancing is an amazing tool to not only have freedom at work, but to pick up new skills. It’s much like trying on different hats and seeing what works for you. Start small by picking up responsibilities that are adjacent to your current skills and build from there.”
“Our mission is to help empower people to design their own career trajectory, not only are we focused on more meaningful careers but ones that can also enable people more economic mobility and financial equity.” Christina shared, “Staying the same job may not just be bad for the soul but also for your wallet, we often see big gaps between member compensation and market rate. Being valued needs to show up in both culture and in pay.”
Christina believes that getting pigeonholed is a major challenge that can affect our careers, especially for freelancers. “If you're a freelancer, we often times get pigeonholed into one thing that we do really well over and over again,” Christina said,
“It’s important be intentional about how you shape your career path so that the work is still rewarding but also leaves room for experimentation for your own personal growth. Freelancing allows us to create our own rules but because we’re so busy doing it all, we of times lack the time to think longer term to where we want to be in the future.”
On the podcast, Ambika shared that at Zeit, we like to focus on the journey for people who are making a career transition but don’t know how to get started.
“They just know they want to do something different, but they don't know what that could be and job descriptions we’ve talked about are super confusing so that they don't even know what it's called,” Ambika said, “They don't know what their options are.”
For those that have found clarity on what they want their niche to be, it can be challenging to know what steps to take next. Which is why Zeit programs focus on career evolution and career mobility.
“We provide both the emotional and the functional support to help people through each of these stages and we do that tactically through coaching, group coaching, one on one coaching,” Ambika explained, “We do it through really strategic playbooks and resources that guide people through resumes, conversations, interviews, and pick-me-ups when you get rejected. And we have that in a very kind of structured format that in a digital format that people can access as they move to the program.”
Once people have chosen their major and their minors, Zeit helps them identify what specific experiences they've had in their career that they should talk about in their resume and when interviewing.
Need a little help finding your niche and making your next move? We’ll be with you every step of the way!