Winter is here, and career choices

Winter has arrived here, as is its habit, with a cold snap and rain in mid-April.

Actually it often rains around Meggi’s birthday.  It’s the last rain of the season; I guess it really classifies as Autumn rain, interspersed with hot sunshiny patches and chilly nights.  Time to get those “storm blankets” out.  (“Storm” is actually the name of the dark-grey colour of these phenomenally warm poor-man blankets, but it was such a poetic concept that for us, they became “storm blankets”.)

I’m spending precious holiday time with my 3 that are so big already…  2 in high school and one moving there so fast now.  My oldest is finishing school this year, it’s an exciting time in her life.  Unlike some, she isn’t entirely sure what she wants to do; we have various leads and a general direction but no decision (“I want to be a fireman, period”).  Well that is okay; I told her the stories of practically everyone in the family, and a good few friends.  When one is 17, one is (brought) under the impression that this is a momentous decision, that whatever you pick now, is what you will be condemned to do forever after.  This is simply not true.  Virtually each one of us changed careers in mid-flight, at least once.

Nothing you ever do is wasted.  So in the case of my oldest offspring, it’s practical to take a gap year, shadow people in their jobs to discover how those work; take some courses, then in the following year (2017) begin a degree course of a general direction, in her case BA fine arts, that leaves various options open at the end for a post-grad that will be more specific.  By the end of her BA she can make that decision, but it will not limit her options the way a more specific first degree would.

The way to deal with the panic mechanics, I suggested to her, is to tell them she’ll be doing a PGCE.  That is a post-graduate certificate in education which would make her employable as a school teacher – one of the jobs she is considering.  Of course telling a relative you’re going to do a PGCE, will be met with a moment’s surprised silence, and then the obvious objection, “but you can’t just do a post-graduate certificate, you have to have a degree first!”  To which the answer, naturally, is a sovereign smile and the comment, “yes, that’s the plan”.

Because there are a lot of panic mechanics.  They see a “directionless” child and spot a “future unemployable problem adult”.  Oh for heavens’ sakes.  And they were never 17 and at that junction with nary a clue what they wanted to nail themselves down to doing for the rest of a lifetime?  “Your daughter should do this and your daughter should do that”…  right, but it is her own choice.  Not mine; not theirs.


Good at art. She was one of 6 art students selected to do a “live” painting within a single morning, acrylic on canvas, for heritage day last year.


R taking a quick reading break, at a P’kaboo launch. She is also a solid help and supporter at studio concerts. With her experience she could easily step into the role of event manager, or start an events business – if she wanted to.

9 thoughts on “Winter is here, and career choices

  1. When I entered college (as we call uni in the States), I decided to do Greek and Latin for two reasons: 1. I didn’t know what else to do and 2. it seemed like a good idea. I even went on to graduate school in it. Thank heavens I did this – if I am any good at teaching the violin it’s because I did just about anything else besides practice (really I did that, too). I even remember people asking me, “but what are you going to DO with your major?” If I replied that I was going to teach, that was OK. The thought that it was an ever-repeating cycle (learn-teach-learn-teach) without any apparent practical application never occurred to them. However, unless a young adult has a mission in life (becoming a doctor, lawyer, Albert Schweitzer), getting a good liberal arts education is probably the best preparation for anything. I have had lots of different types of jobs in my life and never had a problem adapting to any of the different circumstances and disciplines I encountered. I always tell my students, study what you like and the profession will follow. It is important to educate the mind – not train for a job. Forcing yourself to make up your mind what you want to do for the rest of your life when you are really too young to make this decision and mindlessly pursuing it, can lead to great disappointment and frustration. Many people train for certain jobs and then find out that the demand for these jobs has disappeared when they finish their “education.” Go study what you like – try a little of everything. Enjoy learning. Learn to write well. Learn to think. Have fun! There will be lots of time to think about work. You would not think that Greek and Latin would be helpful to me as a violin teacher, but it most certainly is in ways I would never have imagined. I am so grateful that I listened to my mother and got an education instead of job training. Good for you for helping your daughter to do the same thing!

    • 😀 Exactly: “The thought that it was an ever-repeating cycle (learn-teach-learn-teach) without any apparent practical application never occurred to them.”

      It’s as you say. One needs to educate one’s mind, the jobs will follow. 😀 I find it great that I’m not the only violin teacher who is a better teacher for not having practised enough! Thanks for sharing that bit.

      Yes, the “disease” of disregarding anyone who doesn’t have a burning mission to be Albert Schweitzer (wonder in fact if he himself knew he had that mission when he started out) is a big problem. It comes laden with worries about disappearing jobs and whole fields. My uncle is a classic case – brilliant clarinettist, but was pushed into learning “a useful profession” back then: Typesetter.

      He made a career as a brilliant clarinettist (he is long since retired), but he says he felt old when he saw himself in the Jobs Museum being depicted as one of the last apprentices to “graduate”. So passes an era.

      Being adaptable is 100x more important than fixating on a specific direction. A teenager never has a proper idea what any job entails, perhaps babysitting and washing dishes excepted. So to try and make a permanent decision on this from such an angle of lacking exposure is simply unrealistic.

  2. Look at my two. Aced every class they took, opted to do their own thing and now run a successful business.
    When you do what you love you never ”work” a day in your life.
    Want to drop me an email re P’kaboo etc?

  3. The one thing to be avoided like the plague is to allow circumstances, peer pressure, or wanting that snazzy new buggy, to paint one into the corner of an occupation one grows to hate. The happiest people are those who find something they enjoy doing and then learn to do it well enough to make a good career out of it.

    • Words of wisdom, Col. The next post deals exactly with that – pressure from the “tribe” to do this or that, and not to do this or that.

  4. If I could do things again, I definitely would take a gap year to get a better idea of what’s actually out there. At the tender age of 17/18, you really have no idea what you want and what you actually will enjoy one day

    • Completely right. My experience too, after 1 year of studying something I had been push-pulled into, I knew what I wanted… but… that’s a story for another day.

Your thoughts on this:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s