By Morag Barrett
Dr. Sarabeth Berk is a hybrid professional who researches hybrid professional identity. (Say what?! Listen to this amazing episode and all will become clear) She is a creative disruptor who demystifies human experiences with art, research, education, and designer identities. After she underwent her own professional identity crisis, she learned that she was a hybrid and that concept revolutionized her career path. Now she is obsessed with changing the way we see the workplace and the unique values that intersect with multiple identities.
Growing up, a child’s imagination is always firing away with different careers. After all, why pick just one? Like most kids, Dr. Sarabeth had multiple interests. Veterinarian or ballet dance, how can you possibly pick? While she no longer dances, she still holds the grace of a dancer in her leadership.
We’ve all been there. The professional identity crisis. (If you haven’t… I hate to break it to you, but it’s probably coming!) How do you describe the whole package when you feel so fragmented? The dots just aren’t connecting, but you know that there has to be something you’re missing. Dr. Sarabeth started to uncover the integration in her Ph.D. research. When you can define who you are in the intersection, that’s your power spot. This realization changed the game for Dr. Sarabeth.
People can have multiple professional identities, as we have discussed. But what does that look like exactly? People with a singular identity tend to be what we call “experts.” Those with multiple identities are what we will term “multiplicity,” but you’re only one identity at a time. The third type of professional, the one we’ve been missing, is the “hybrid professional.” As a society, we get stuck in these binaries that you’re either an expert or a generalist. The concept of combination escapes our grasp when we don’t consciously think about it.
Job titles limit us and many times we aren’t even aware of it If you find yourself using all of your identities at once, create your own title! Did you know you’re allowed to do that? (Careful, with great power, comes great responsibility!) Many of us, when asked, have a hard time describing exactly what they do. Narrow it down to your unique core words and create a Venn Diagram. Those intersections? You guessed it. This is how you create your title. When you feel amazing and those themes are present? Boom. Hybrid title.
It can be hard to break the mold when you’ve been put in the same role over and over again. Sometimes you get stuck coming up with your own title when you’ve been given the same vocabulary repeatedly. You might need some outside perspectives. Have a brainstorming session with those who know you to come up with a title to describe your intersecting identities.
First - there are hybrid jobs that are appearing on the boards. Don’t lose hope that by using your new title, that you won’t get the gig. More and more, companies are realizing that they need those hybrids, but they haven’t reached full awareness yet. You need to tell them why it matters and drive the point home. Sell yourself with confidence. It’s important to remember that each identity is important in and of itself. One doesn’t trump the other. You need each piece to keep the puzzle together. Feel like you might be of the hybrid variety?
Catch the rest of our chat by following the links below.