In careers, it’s the best laid of plans ...
by LUCIE R. WILLSIE, Associate Editor
Oct 14, 2012 | 473 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I must confess, I never realized that this topic was so sensitive.

However, when I innocently asked folks about it, I got some strangely hesitant reactions.

One lady got so flustered and tight-lipped, she wouldn’t answer my question. I can’t imagine why though. What could be so terrible that it couldn’t be talked about?

And it’s really not such a secretive subject. At least, I don’t think it is.

I recently had occasion to think about what folks studied in college ... or what they had wanted to study ... and what they actually wound up doing for their life’s work.

When I Googled this topic, I actually found the number much lower than I thought it would be. I found that it is estimated that 60 percent of folks do not work in the field in which they graduated. That leaves 40 percent of folks who do. Now, I will also add that 40 percent includes people who work in fields related to their original ones, so, maybe that’s why the number of people — at 40 percent — is so high. At least it seems high to me because I don’t know too many people who actually work in their studied field.

Over the years, when I have talked with people, I would have said the number not working in what they studied in school was at least 80 percent, if not more, depending on the field.

Judging from myself, for example, I don’t work in the field I studied — at least, not originally studied and planned on working in.

I was heading toward being an interpreter. English, German, French. Ah, French. French and I collided, and French won. Won! It devastated me like Wellington did Napoleon at Waterloo kind of won! I kinda stumbled into photography. I guess I sorta had the language part down. Funny, but I actually helped perfect my English by studying German and French because I had to actually “think” about the English language. It kinda helped too that I was kinda genetically disposed to the use of languages. My dad graduated from journalism school too.

I finally also went to journalism school and studied writing, photography and design, but, I’m really not sure how that happened. It was a slow progression. I worked in photography in the Army Reserves. They placed me there. Then, after working in photography briefly, I decided I liked it and would get some formal training in it. While there, I thought it would be best to not only study photography, but the other areas of journalism as well.

I am just so infinitely curious, I just had to know what all the others were doing.

That landed me back — or should I say into — language again.

And here I am today. I guess, I could consider myself one of the 40 percent, since I am working in something related to languages.



But I only spoke to one fella who actually is working specifically in the field he studied in college. And, you want to know why he is? Well, it’s because his parents had the forethought to guide all their children into not only thinking about what they would do for their careers, but also made them actually get jobs in the field. It worked out for him. And, it worked out for his sister as well, but in the opposite way. His sister wanted to be a secretary. Her parents made her get a job in an office as an assistant while still in high school.

She didn’t like it.

But now, at least she knew before wasting a lot of unhappy years and a lot of time at a school studying something she would hate and either eventually give up or hate working at the rest of her life.

So, I see now, that it’s beneficial either way. Youngsters just have to be guided to make a concrete plan to figure out what they really want to do with the rest of their lives.

This brother and sister were lucky.

So was a young employee who graduated from college about six years ago. He also works in a field he studied for — engineering. But it was with planning and forethought that he did the practical work — researching fields, trying out different jobs, finding out the possible job openings predicted, figuring out what school was best for him rather than going where friends went, or choosing a career like medicine versus, say, philosophy — without any thought as to the job market, or making plans to go to a company, a location that would have the job he was hoping to find.

One of his guidance counselors told him to get practical experience. That was a gigantic help to him and immensely helpful advice, which he ravenously took.

Most of his friends, however, didn’t do their homework and are now floundering, working at menial jobs, or working at jobs not related to their studies, or just not doing much of anything with their time and their lives.

They are just now getting down to brass tacks and trying to figure out what to do.

In my research, I did come up with a few specific pieces of advice that might help the budding student with this lifelong work dilemma.

I found a list of the supposed five worst job fields.

I don’t know how accurate this list is, but here they are for you to judge.

The first listed was social work.

The second, elementary school teachers.

Drama and the theater arts. I would kinda have to agree with this one.

Next, family and consumer studies. I’m not even sure what field those are. Sales?

And, fifth is anthropology and archaeology. I wonder if Indiana Jones knows this?

But, after all, he is a fictional character, so, I guess he doesn’t count.

Yet, I can identify with those, as well as sympathize, who would like to enter these fields. I can see the attraction to most of them, as well as the difficulties for a career that they represent.

Yes, it’s difficult, almost daunting, to try to figure out how you want to spend the rest of your life at the ripe old age of 18.

I know. I’ve been there.

But then again, I’m still not sure what I really want to do when I grow up. Or, if I ever really will — grow up, that is.