40 years of faulty wiring

Bad Career Advice – Don’t Worry Be Happy

Do you want to take a big gamble with your career and lose? Consider the following: I happened upon this Brazen Careerist blog entry eons ago and I still read it now and then. I’ve mentioned before that I love Penelope Trunk’s blog and this is a good explanation as to why: you can read a specific blog entry once, agree or disagree, then re-visit it months later and it still doesn’t feel old. This blog as it turns out, offers great advice…all about how doing what you love is the worst career advice ever.  For some people that isn’t true.  Sometimes medical doctors and lawyers and pilots and all those well-paid types truly love their jobs….most of the time. No one of course loves their job all the time or that person would be pathological and likely on house arrest. 

I was published twice by an actual publishing house; not a vanity press. I had fun. It was exciting. But it was not a career goal and I was not unrealistic enough to believe for a minute that I would become the next Stephen King and make a kazillion dollars. There is, after all, only one Stephen King. I got into visual art for a while and joined a non-profit art gallery, where I actually sold a couple of pieces for a modest sum. It was fun. It was a hobby but frankly I was nowhere near talented (or trained) enough to consider visual art as a career option. In fact a friend of mine, Kelley, who is a very talented, professional artist told me that it takes about “twenty-six years” to start making any real money as a visual artist. Ouch. video: How to Make Money Writing Blogs

We often tell teens to pursue what they love and sometimes this is terrific and sometimes this is tragic. Take for instance my friend’s sister whom I shall call Mabel. Hoo boy.  Mabel decided in her late teens that she wanted to be a broadway performer. She had no formal training. No vocal lessons. No dance training. No acting lessons. Zilch. Yet Mabel was giong to be a broadway hit. Rrrright. Mabel tried to get her start as a broadway performer by training in amateur performances in her little suburb. She was paid zero because she was worth zero, yet she was convinced she was star material because her “friends” politely complimented her, and she got the occasional small role in local theatre. Seriously. video: how to have a career in dance

The years went by and of course Mabel didn’t succeed in her utterly unrealistic goal of becoming a broadway star yet she didn’t pursue any kind of post secondary education, and she couldn’t work at any job that paid more than minimum wage. Lucky for her she met a nice man, married and had children. Well at least she got a grip on reality in the long run. But here’s the weird catch-22; she encourages both of her children (daughters) that they should pursue “what they love” as a career path. One of them wants to appear on Project Catwalk and of course win the contest and walk away with $100,000 to “start her own fashion line” and a sports car. Her mother thinks that is great. Peaches. video: what is a fashion designer’s salary?

The other daughter somehow grew up to be more  grounded. She wants to get her Masters Degree in Librarian Studies and work in a local university where librarians with Masters Degrees make about $80,000.00 a year. Glamorous? Hardly. Practical? Absolutely. How that kid turned out to be sane with a mother and a sibling like that I will never know. But then, I don’t have my Ph.D. in Psychology either. I won’t get into discussing how a feather brain mother can raise a pragmatic child but I will state that encouraging children to pursue what they love without discussing imperatives such as salary, pension, benefits, security and longevity, is doing a child a grave disservice. It’s not necessary to knock down your kid’s dreams especially when that child is very young. 5-year-olds want to be penguins. Rather impractical but a nice thought. 10-year-olds want to be rock stars. Very unlikely but a cool thought. 20-year-olds should be thinking along the lines of social worker, account executive, nurse, millwright or any sustainable, realistic means of survival. video: Tell me how: Librarian

Enjoyment of a job is always a plus and hopefully there will be a lot of that as a person develops his or her full potential in a chosen career field. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, and then that person has the option of a major career change. But that’s okay if there is a reasonable educational background and apt experience to support that transition, because skills are transferable between numerous jobs. But going to school to become a famous fashion designer and discovering within a year or at a maximum, two, that Project Catwalk is as likely as getting hit twice by lightning is not a pleasant awakening. Now supppose you are a person who wants to get into the fashion world for a career, not a problem if you have the right perspective.  Consider a degree in Fashion Business Management with an eye toward retail management or becoming a buyer rather than becoming Iman’s next Designer Darling. Career enjoyment tempered with a strategic approach to practical living is a solid compromise.

You don’t want to discover too late in the game that your dreams will never become reality. It’s discouraging to hear that our greatest love won’t pay the bills but we get over it. You aren’t a superstar anymore than the rest of us, but you are capable of success in a career geared towards your skills as well as interests.

You can take that to the bank.

The Worst Career Advice: Do What You Love
Building an Art Career: Ask the Recruiter.


April 13, 2011 - Posted by | Career | , , ,

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