Head on a swivel

There’s no right way to get through school and into a career

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief

It seems not many of the articles you read these days in papers or magazines (or, more likely, the Internet) about the job market have positive information for you, the supposed future workers of our society.

In an attempt to remedy that, I would like to welcome you to the first “special edition” of the 2013-14 school year, which will hopefully be something a little more upbeat for those overwhelmed with the negativity of “post-secondary students are wasting their time and money,” articles.

In this edition of The Omega, we look at some people who have made it through the grind that is university (the very same one you’re attending, in fact) and joined the workforce in various capacities. We check on the relationship between institutions and the job market and we look at the interesting (and sometimes unconventional) routes people take and how you can keep your eyes open for these paths to open up for you, as well.

I’ll lead by example here:

I started my post-secondary career in fine arts. Some skill with a pencil and a paintbrush led me to believe (falsely, it turned out) that I had a future in design or some such artistic endeavor.

I could say that my “some skill” wasn’t going to cut it, but I think my “failure” in that program had to do more with finding in my exploration of the world of art that I had more affinity for the history rather than the production of new works — and there just weren’t enough of those courses on offer.

So I moved over to the arts faculty to study some more aspects of the history of this world.

While there, I realized that (with practice) I could use my now-ingrained artistic skills and knowledge in the crafting of sentences to explain the histories I was studying, and slowly gravitated to the English and modern languages faculty to explore that avenue more fully.

While I was expanding my love for and gaining proficiency in the craft of the written word, I saw a posting for a job as a sports writer/editor for the campus newspaper. I’d always loved sports, and now I loved writing, so this seemed like a good fit.

I got that position and soon found that I loved sharing people’s stories for them — moving outside the world of sports to explore other facets of the world around me and connecting the people in that world.

And now I’m about to graduate with two degrees and go out into the world of journalism to continue sharing people’s stories, tightening bonds between people and their communities and keeping people informed so they can make knowledgeable decisions to better themselves and those societies.

In the world of contact sports, that might be referred to as “keeping your head on a swivel.”

I didn’t allow myself to get tunnel vision and was willing to pursue other avenues on my journey through school. Had I remained in fine arts and gone on to a career in that field, I may not have found the passion I have for my community, the love of telling stories or met any of the wonderful people I now know because of my work in journalism.

I also have a feeling I would have been deeply disappointed with my choice — and probably unsuccessful in my field.

Not everyone picks a career and goes off to school for four years and makes it happen. Not everyone should do that, as it could very well keep you from seeing what you really love when it’s slightly off to one side of you as you move forward in life.

There are a whole lot of us (see other examples in this edition) who didn’t take the straight path through a program, and I for one wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I have a much broader set of skills because of it and I appreciate finding my road forward more than I might have otherwise because it was a winding and branching one.

(I’m also way better at yelling at Jeopardy when it’s on television and having random facts at my immediate disposal than I otherwise would have been.)

I should also mention that it took me more than a dozen years to complete this process, because, as you likely know, education is expensive, and I had to take courses at a rate I could afford and take a few breaks altogether to replenish the bank account.

So the long and short of it is this: don’t consider it a failure to change directions as you go along. It doesn’t do anyone any good to have a bunch of graduates out there with degrees in things they don’t have a passion for.

There’s no wrong way to find your career. It’s more important to find one you love than it is to find one quickly.