0352a. Some general considerations for a career

Tuesday 6 May 2014
by  G. West

If you don’t have any idea what you want to do with your life, reading the below guide sheet may help you think a bit about the options. However, you should also systematically ask every adult you run into at home, at friends’ houses, or anywhere else five questions:

*What jobs have you done in your life? *What satisfaction/advantages do you find in these jobs? *What hardships/difficulties/drawbacks did these jobs have? *How much does a person earn doing these jobs? and *What training and background are useful or necessary to have these jobs?

There is a more detailed set of questions in the article: Questionnaire pour des recherches sur un métier.

If you find any jobs that interest you after doing this exercise, you might contact companies or professionals in these fields (even if you don’t know them) to ask them about these things.

A. Some general thoughts about work choices.

There is no general rule on what job might bring you satisfaction. One job as an engineer can be badly paid, boring and disagreeable with a bad boss and long hours and another can be wonderful. Almost any profession can bring satisfaction, but some are easier to succeed in that others, a lot depends on YOU, and it is sometimes better to have two areas of qualification to be polyvalent and adaptable.

Some jobs are open to anyone: for example, being a politician has no requirements except that you are able to convince people, but it’s a very "unstable" position. Some jobs require working for the government or other people. Others don’t...Ask a lot of questions, especially to adults you meet. Don’t become something just from a lack of imagination! You might want to change professions later, so don’t aim at something too narrow unless you’re sure it’s right for you. Some jobs are very rare (astronaut, top rate athlete or musician) so if these interest you, think of some interesting job that can help you move in that direction but that can also give you an income while you struggle to achieve what you really want (engineer, sports trainer, working in a music studio as a sound engineer...). Some jobs take long, hard studies. Why not, if it’s really a job that will interest you? After all, what else do you have planned for the next seventy years besides realizing your dreams? Unless it is avoiding things you dislike.

Do not forget too that some people don’t just live to work but have other interests or goals like raising a family, getting involved in community or political work, painting, writing, playing music.... which bring them pleasure but which are difficult to make a living at... at least at first. Don’t choose a job which will prevent you from doing such things if they are important to you.

B. What do you value?

Think for a moment about what you hate or fear or really want. Make some lists. Many are tempted to run away, just have fun, and hope these problems never catch up with them. But who is going to solve these problems, if you don’t? Certainly not the 90% of the world population less well educated and much poorer than you! Certainly not the 5% of those rich and well-educated who are older than you or who are too greedy or selfish to do something about it! If the remaining 5% sounds like a small percentage, remind yourself that that is about the proportion of the world’s population that lives in the U.S.A., the world’s most powerful nation. If that 5% changed its way of life, the world would change a lot!

What would you hate to have failed to do when you look back on your life at age 70? Taking responsibility may not ALWAYS be as much fun as running away. So what? What are you here on earth for? Just to party? Is there no higher goal? Considering all the things you hate and fear, there is really a ton of things you can do... and many of them won’t prevent you from having fun, but will simply change your choices of HOW to have fun. Sometimes, when you choose to do something that seems less fun at first (like riding a bike in the rain), you’ll end up realizing that it makes you appreciate the rain or gives you other views on things. It’s different though for each person. So keep the ideas below in mind as you choose your profession... but also as you live your every day life: almost all professions are necessary, but can be practiced in different ways. So there is no bad choice. What you do outside your job can be just as important as what you choose as a job.

1. Be coherent in your choices.

If you want a non-violent, loving, affectionate world, practice it with your kids, but also with your neighbors, your work colleagues, etc. If you want good health and a clean environment, refuse to pollute or buy products and food that do. If you don’t want to make the same mistakes you feel your parents made, undergo psychotherapy to stop behaving so much like them. If you don’t like being lonely or bored or fear finding no love or being unable to talk in front of a group, work on bettering your communication ability, confidence, and diverse talents so you won’t have to be. If you dislike arrogant people who think they’re better than others, stop criticizing people for being stupid... because you think you’re better than them!! If you don’t like the way politicians are doing things, get involved yourself and try to show people how politics could be... by providing the very best example possible yourself.

2. Try to solve problems upstream.

Prisons don’t get rid of crime, they just control it. Money for the poor doesn’t alone erase the mental and psychological problems and handicaps of people who’ve suffered from lack of love, violence, a humiliating miseducation, etc. Building aircraft carriers won’t stop wars. The causes of war, violence, hoodlums, poverty, stupidity, sadness, pollution, cancer, imperialism, numerous health problems, overpopulation, manipulation, lobotomization, smoking, alcohol abuse and other drug problems, racism, unemployment, and car accidents are too often neglected. People often just try to lessen their effects. Major changes in the way we educate children, organize democracy, control the power of money, run the economy (produce and consume goods without ethical limits), share the wealth, communicate, treat nature, generate and use energy, and have fun are necessary. Changing these could solve a host of problems. Even learning to identify asteroids so they can be destroyed before hitting the earth "falls" in this category.

3. Help alleviate suffering from problems downstream.

When you can’t solve the problem, you can at least try to prevent its effects from being too devastating: help for orphans, protection for abused children, aid for victims of imperialism, alternative education for those who have been excluded from the system, finding alternatives to nuclear energy for the future so it can one day be shut down, refusing to respond to violence with violence, refusing to cooperate with unjust laws, etc. You can’t do everything. You’ll have to choose your path and your battles one step at a time. but do what you can and never give up. Do not believe those who suggest there is only one way to do things or one way to live your life. Keep searching. And may you make choices that bring happiness to you and your world.

C. Associations between interests, talents and jobs:

Below you have an exercise that can help you think about your zones of interest. A different tool is also attached in a separate article in French. We advise you to do both.

Read ONLY the words in bold type below. Put I next to anything you find important, interesting or intense; G next to anything you consider yourself good or gifted or great at, and both next to any where both apply. Then and only then go back and read the professions listed next to the words you marked and underline any that appeal to you a bit. This may help you narrow down your choices.

children-teaching, day care centers, social worker, judge for children

love-any job at all may be done in a loving way; but this takes learning to communicate, to use psychology, and to set limits so one’s kindness is not destroyed or exploited. Loving isn’t usually an innate skill.

money-top level business administration, management, invention and sales of an innovative product, lawyer or notary, engineer capable of management as well, stock investor (but it can be risky.)

interesting job-any job can be interesting, depending on how you look at it.

comfortable material existence -most jobs which require a university education and are professionally oriented (law, architecture, medicine, pharmacy, teaching etc) and many manual craft jobs (mechanics, electricians, plumbers, etc.) make a reasonable living. But some don’t do so well.

travel-pilot, train or intercity bus driver, sailor or truck driver (a very hard life), sales work, music, theatre, oil/gas and mineral prospector, oceanographer, ethnologist/anthropologist.

helping people-social work, teaching, medicine, psychotherapy work, Third World volunteer or association work, environmental association work, (but you can help people in almost any job!!!)

being a better person-psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, teacher, working for an association (environment, third world), farming organically, exploring martial arts, yoga and different diets, lifestyles, religions, etc.

creating-fine arts, music, theatre, cinema, writing, journalism, architecture, dance, building, farming, hairdresser, fashion designer, and advertising (which is, I’m afraid, about as unethical as you can get, as this job usually involves deforming the truth and manipulating people.)

fame, admiration-sports, music, theatre, cinema, dance, journalism, writing, and many other domains.

fun-any job can be fun, and everyone’s conception of fun is different...but if you’re looking for adventure, music, theater, travel, cinema, television, sports, oceanography, are a few directions.

friendships-new people-learning to get along with people involves learning about psychology (whether in a classroom or through a variety of living experiences.

inventing or discovering-scientific or engineering professions (new genetic, energy, mechanical discoveries), exploration of psychology, dreams and the para-scientific, etc.

mathematics-accounting (keeping financial records for a company), banking, economics, statistical analysis, scientific researcher, computer programmer, building, architecture, engineering science.

research, development of products, medicine, engineering, agricultural experimentation, commercial representative for high-tech products, computer programmer, construction work.

languages-translator, teacher, writer, travel agent, international business management, international press agent or journalist.

French-teacher, communications specialist, interpreter, journalist, writer, advertising (highly unethical though) sports-teacher, athlete, trainer, recreation center manager.

history- law, social worker, business (management and marketing), geography-urbanism, government planning, economist, anthropologist, archaeologist.

painting/decorating-fine arts, interior decorator, shop design, fashion design

making little objects-builder, artist, handicraft object maker.

playing an instrument or singing-musician, recreation center worker, teacher, songwriter.

doing theatre-acting, directing, shooting films, preparing props, costumes, décor or special effects.

writing-journalism, novel or poetry writing, movie or TV script writer, radio or TV work.

cooking-restaurant, teacher, dietician, nutritionist, organic farmer.

repairing things-plumber, construction work, building site management, garage mechanic.

building things-construction work, sculpture, urban planning, alternative energy company or installer.

gardening-agriculture, beekeeping, selling produce on a market, creating a plant and herb center...

talking in front of people- teacher, lawyer, business manager, listening to people-social worker, psychologists, teaching, religious work...

making people laugh-comic, actor in theatre, script writer, movie director, disk jockey, radio announcer.

dancing-teaching, member or director of a dance company, choreographer,

martial arts or gymnastics-teacher, sports trainer, stunt person for the movies.

making people feel at ease-restaurant, airplane work, recreation center, school psychologist, hotel or inn receptionist/owner/worker, receptionist, barman, psychotherapist.

being alone-research, painting, some musical creativity, being a writer, being a plumber or electrician.

reading, watching TV, listening to music: journalistic critic, media analyst, disk jockey, music producer.

Can you think of other things you’re good at or interested in or professions that attract you now? Jot them down!