The first time I heard the term “slash-professional” I was working with my sister on the design of a personal logo and business card. I was debating with a friend on whether I should use a couple different card designs or one, and list the various roles I had. Growing up in a culture where having multiple jobs was looked down upon as proof you were not successful enough in your main occupation to afford the luxury of not needing additional work, copping to my various roles so blatantly seemed perhaps a mistake. Not so, my fiend argued, because the Millennials are making the slash-professional a popular personae.
Given this permission to embrace the slash-professional I didn’t even know I was, I took ownership of this newly-recognized culture and my sister created a logo design illustrating my penchant for multiple creative and productive outlets. My logo is three commingling shapes of three different colors combining into one shape, with new blended colors. The representation, without initially intending to, seems to embody the slash-professional culture, but also the X Generation.
XGens really created the slash-professional, even while the Millennials make the trend fashionable. The first generation since the depression who will not succeed farther than their parents generation, at least via common modalities, XGens are challenged with chasing a new American Dream. Because A does not lead to B which no longer leads to C- A college education no longer guarantees a successful career path, and the family no longer automatically follows; there is a new American Dream. A dream focused on the individual’s journey to reach the fulfillment of a chosen personal identity. A job is no longer just a job, it is now very much an extension of who you are, how you see yourself, and how others see you. Because a secure career path with one organization is no longer a reality for most people, our values and ideas of a successful work life have changed.
Where once you could be assured a college degree would land you a job with a decent salary and assured growth, XGens (and now Millennials as well) are constantly plagued by the fear of the next layoff, restructuring, or even salary or bonus cut. Promotions, if you can get one without the help of cronyism, do not always come with the salary bumps once assumed. Often, XGens learn they have to leave a company to advance their careers. Hiring managers are fond of blaming young professionals for the lack of company loyalty today, but increasingly, it is the company to blame. The company has a habit now of relying on the moronic excuse of “the economy” to explain why even a cost of living increase is out of the question, let alone significant raises for exemplary performance. “You’re over-qualified” is the popular translation for “We think we can find someone younger who will do the job for less, even if they will not perform as well.” Companies are blatantly capitalizing on maintaining the shrunken salaries of the recession in gross. “We can’t afford to offer more” is bullshit for “Our executives and investors are used to, and happy with increasing their own salaries and bottom lines on the backs of employees.” We are witnessing American Capitalism on steroids, Ayn Rand’s wet dream.
The revolution is the slash-professional. A refusal to struggle against a sucking whirl-pool of corporate bullshit. The slash-professional pools resources from their various ventures to fulfill their needs and wants. A secure job making enough for essentials is combined with passion projects and experimental ventures to create a life worth working for. Passions are exquisitely leveraged into productive forms. Advances in personal business tools create avenues of invention. The options for the slash-professionals are limited only by their drive.