Saturday, September 26, 2009

Career Non-Guidance

I suspect that many people go into teaching because that's one of the few jobs they've seen up front.

After being subjected to good teachers and bad, most of us have a more accurate idea of the job's demands than we form from cursory contacts with doctors, lawyers, and plumbers unless we have one of those practitioners in our family. Even then there might be some mystery. I have two brothers whose work, the best I can tell, involves walking into a board room, opening a briefcase, and then sipping coffee while people throw in money.

But perhaps I'm wrong.

Anyway, the entire process of career planning is skewed. We major in certain subjects in college and later learn that the actual work in the subject area is only remotely tied to the preparation. Sometimes, that's good news since the preparation may have been partly designed to keep out the competition and the job itself is quite enjoyable. [I found being an Army officer far better than preparing to be one.]

In other cases, the process is reversed. The preparation is the fun part and the job itself is a drag. Many a serious and enthusiastic student of philosophy or political science is now selling insurance. [As the B.A. wannabe groaned in Animal House, "Seven years of college down the drain."]

It's an annual event. As soon as the tassle is moved from one side of the mortarboard to the other, reality arrives for its ritualistic dream-stomping. Pricing one's skills to what the market will bear is a bit disturbing when one finds the market will bear very little if any at all.

In still other cases, of course, neither the preparation nor the job is a barrel of laughs. I've met many an attorney who trudged through law school only to learn that the practice of law faintly resembles television dramas and that none of their colleagues are Atticus Finch.

The only good news is that most of us go through the same mixture of chaos, trial and error, and outright rejection. We learn that life is not only unfair, it's damned disorganized, and that the path to professional happiness is rarely a clean shot from A to Z.

You can search for your passion, but find some passion for what you're doing right now, because the wisest travelers take some joy from the journey and the map is often wrong.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I 100% agree with you, although current theory is 'wait until the perfect job comes along' as you wouldn't want to waste your time doing anything less than exactly what you something, anything and do it well and with passion, you will get noticed maybe not the first time or second or third time......maybe the 10th or 100th, too many people expect they deserve something for doing their job well once or twice.....

"Lisa, if you don't like your job you don't strike. You just go in every day, and do it really half-assed. That's the American way."
Homer Simpson