FIRST PERSON | I don't want a permanent job. I'm a professional job juggler and I love it | CBC News (2024)

Canada·First Person

Devon Flynn works as a comedian, nude model, bike mechanic and writer among other things. While not everyone is comfortable with having precarious employment, he says he’s found a way to make it work for him instead of the other way around.

Working multiple jobs works for me, even if my dates are skeptical

FIRST PERSON | I don't want a permanent job. I'm a professional job juggler and I love it | CBC News (1)

Devon Flynn · for CBC First Person


FIRST PERSON | I don't want a permanent job. I'm a professional job juggler and I love it | CBC News (2)

This First Person column is written by Devon Flynn, who lives in Prince George, B.C. For more information about CBC's First Person stories, please see the FAQ.

My accountant looks at the paperwork in front of her and gathers her thoughts.

"I forget, what else do you do for work again?" she asks.

I don't blame her. My list of jobs is different every time she hears it. I take a minute to remember all of them before answering her.

"Nude model, photographer assistant, bike safety training, author...."

"So, you don't do anything full-time?"

I shake my head.

She laughs. "You're a real jack of all trades, you know that?"

I do. I've heard it before.

I give her the final numbers for my tax return. Having multiple jobs requires me to keep excellent track of my income and expenses. Fortunately, I've gotten really good at it. My meticulous Excel sheet has been a lifesaver — something my accountant says she also appreciates when it comes to tax season.

She offers me some financial advice before we wrap our meeting up. I need every bit of it. I want to be smart with my hard-earned money. The goal, after all, is to work less.

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Working half a dozen jobs wasn't part of any quirky social experiment. It just happened. It started when I was attending university pursuing my bachelor's in environmental planning and community development.

I saw a poster looking for practice patients to train medical students at the local hospital, enticing new recruits with a small honorarium. The work only took place a few times a year, but I wondered if there was a way to make a living by combining several of those kinds of jobs.

Years later, I quit my job as an executive assistant at a local non-profit organization and decided to work for myself. I was ready to pursue work as an entertainer, including different gigs as a writer, stand-up comedian and even a clown! Alas, COVID happened and it didn't work out as planned. My lifestyle of juggling various jobs, however, continued.

FIRST PERSON | I don't want a permanent job. I'm a professional job juggler and I love it | CBC News (3)

Today, all my jobs are part-time. It's the only way I can juggle so many, but it works. Some are seasonal, keeping me busy at different times of the year. Last winter I worked at a nordic ski centre making snow for their trail system. The same employer also hired me to teach bike safety training to elementary schools in the spring.

One benefit to even brief employment is that it gets your foot in the door and can create opportunities. That's why I'm also a photo booth technician and DJ under a single company.

But there are also downsides. It's difficult to get good at a job you only do every so often. I sometimes find myself having to refresh my training, forgetting the skills that I would have memorized if I had practised them more consistently. I may not do these jobs often, but I still want to do them well.

Some might misconstrue my unconventional approach to work as being an unreliable employee, but I've found it to be an asset. My flexibility creates an availability, making me a prime candidate for other temporary jobs.

For example, I've previously worked on a film set as a locations manager as well as toured as a stand-up comedian. Both lasted two weeks each — commitments that would have been next to impossible to do if I was working a full-time job. It can be a bit of a double-edged sword, but as long as I plan ahead, I can make it work.

FIRST PERSON | I don't want a permanent job. I'm a professional job juggler and I love it | CBC News (4)

As I left my accountant's office, I checked my calendar and realized I had an open window. It's difficult when you don't work a full-time job because you feel guilty when you aren't working.

Many self-employed entrepreneurs are familiar with this guilt. It's built into the hustle culture many of us are trying to move away from to find that work-life balance. It's risky to say no when the opportunity to work comes up, but I try to enjoy the downtime, especially when it comes to dating.

I take the rest of the day and make plans to meet up that evening with someone I matched with on a dating app. We have a casual drink on the patio of a local bar. Naturally, the question of what I do for work came up. I'm not shy nor embarrassed about what I do and proceed down my current resume.

"I thought you looked familiar," the woman exclaims, remembering that she'd previously seen me when I was working one of my aforementioned jobs. I wonder if that's why she matched with me in the first place.

"I'm everywhere," I say with a playful smile, taking a casual sip of my drink.

Even though I act coy, I'm aware that my work situation can seem non-committal to potential partners. Some consider my lack of a distinct career a turn-off. I might come off as aimless rather than focused. I know their real concern is whether I can pay my bills and that I won't be a mooch if we were to find ourselves in a relationship.

I respectfully think me being a professional job juggler should be appealing. After all, who wouldn't want a partner who is reliable, capable enough to successfully work so many jobs and has a flexible schedule that can accommodate date nights? I like to think my work style can complement my future partner's life rather than competing with it.

While others work to live, I'm grateful to have found myself in a unique position where I've struck a balance. As they say, variety is the spice of life and I enjoy having a range of jobs rather than a single specialized one keeps them from becoming monotonous.

FIRST PERSON | I don't want a permanent job. I'm a professional job juggler and I love it | CBC News (5)

My choice of work is not random either. I have a broad interest in hospitality and the arts and will often find jobs that cater to them in some capacity, many of which complement each other: a bike mechanic is an ideal teacher of bike safety; comedians and DJs are both familiar with using a microphone and speaking in public; and being comfortable in vulnerable situations is an asset for practically every workplace.

I've gotten good at the precarious juggling act, but I still occasionally worry I will drop one of those balls or have another one thrown into the mix. I do try to plan for the future and am fully aware I lack the safety nets that come with traditional jobs.

I don't have family who I could rely on to bail me out financially so that's another reason to be wise with the money I make, saving when I can for my pension and emergencies. I will have to be ready if my circ*mstances call for me to sacrifice my web of gig work for something more consistent and preferably with benefits.

But that's the trade-off: In lieu of the comfort, security and simplicity of a single job, I've made myself more available to enjoy life.

While I have to remind myself to reap the benefits I've created for myself, I'm content with the jobs I've come to love. They have become part of a system that works for me, rather than the other way around.

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FIRST PERSON | I don't want a permanent job. I'm a professional job juggler and I love it | CBC News (6)

Devon Flynn

Freelance contributor

Devon Flynn resides in Prince George, B.C., where he works a multitude of jobs, many of which he manages to find humour in doing.

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