Vampires seem to be everywhere the last few years and everyone seems to like to add their own twist to their lore. Although whether it is Dracula, An Interview with a Vampire or Twilight there is one common thread: they all live for a very long time. This got me thinking, if I lived for hundreds of years without aging what would I do? It would definitely solve all those debates about what to major in in University and what do I want to do with my life? I would not have to choose just one career. In most of these stories, the vampires move along every decade or so in order to avoid people noticing that they never get older. Every time they move on it is a chance for a whole new life. Always wanted to study philosophy but thought it would be a better choice to go into business? Do it! Want to write a book? Why not? You have hundreds of years of time to kill and there always seem to be unlimited funds once someone lives that long so why not do everything?
I am what people call “a jack of all trades, master of none”. There are so many things that interest me I can never just focus on one thing, I’m always moving on to the next. I would love to focus on one occupation, master it, then focus on another but I know there is not enough time in my life to do that. I would love to learn more instruments and actually get myself to an advanced level but as of now I am moderately competent at a few and master of none. At least I have tried them, I suppose that is more than most.
In school it was always so hard to pick one thing to study, I wanted to take courses in so many departments. This led to me taking electives when I could and again, barely scratching the surface of several topics but not nearly as much as I would have liked. If I lived for a couple hundred years I would study psychology, philosophy, english, history, all of it. Except maybe calculus, one course of that was enough for a million life times!
So moral of the story: so much to do, so little time!
I thought I would add a quote that always stuck with me from Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar”:
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
Ps I just noticed apparently I haven’t posted anything since October…whoops! I have drafts written up but none of them got completed. Must do better in 2014!
I just finished listening to a documentary on CBC called “The Double Grind” (unfortunately I believe you can only stream it in Canada but I am sure there are other ways to listen to it). I hope you are able to give it a listen since it is really fascinating, extremely depressing, but fascinating. The podcast interviews various baristas at Second Cup, all of whom have are university graduates.
One of the biggest challenges for the underemployed is getting out of debt. If you finish school with $40,000 in debt then work a minimum wage job how are you ever going to catch up let alone get ahead? I am extremely fortunate that my parents paid for my schooling so I don’t have any student loans. I don’t think I would be able to function if I did. I feel it would be this big dark cloud constantly overhead, overwhelming me with anxiety. Many of my friends are not so lucky and not only are having a hard time finding work but are starting off in the red.
A couple of the subjects who were interviewed were graduates of Queens University, which is basically Canada’s version of an Ivy League school. Even with a degree from a prestigious school they are in the same boat as everyone else. Why spend more money to go to a “fancy” school when in reality it doesn’t make a difference. One of the girls realized this and decided to transfer to a college so that she would be able to do a co-op program. Now a days it seems like colleges or trade schools may be the way to go. They are usually less money, less time and give you hands on experience. Seems like the most logical way to go. For some reason it was looked down on to graduate from a college instead of a university but in today’s job market it might be the only way to go if you aren’t independently wealthy.
University is a great experience to broaden your mind. You have the opportunity to take courses like philosophy, history, foreign languages etc. but if you want a job it may not be practical.
We are at a point where we need to decide if we want to gain knowledge in general or if we want an education that can actually help get a job. I wish it wasn’t a choice that has to be made but it seems like it is.
I think the best point of this program was about how we identify with how we pay the bills. In other words, what we do for a living defines who we are as a person. I am beginning to realize that this doesn’t have to be true anymore. We can’t all make money from our passions. The best we can do is get a job that allows us time to still do what we love. Try and find a job that is somewhat enjoyable and pays the bills but it doesn’t have to define you as a person. Like the one girl said, she works in a coffee shop but if someone asks she says she is an actress and a boxer. Her passions are what define her, not her pay check.
Here is the link to the podcast, hopefully you are able to take a listen!
Does the degree or major you chose really determine the amount of respect you receive? You might read this and say “yes, of course, some degrees are more difficult and those graduates deserve more respect because they are clearly more intelligent”. I don’t think that that is a fair assessment. Maybe it is more a matter of over simpiflication. I don’t know if you can accurately judge a person simply by the degree they chose. There are many people that only choose a major because they happened to have the most credits in a certain department.
I have a reason for being skeptical about this since I am one of those odd ducks that really can’t be described according to my schooling. I have taken courses in almost every department; not because I am indecisive but because I have so many interests and I don’t want to limit myself. In high school I was in advanced placement course and always on the honor roll. I was accepted to a top business school but after a year of that I realized that even though this was a practical degree it wasn’t something I was remotely passionate about. I ended up going the complete opposite direction and went to art school. Many people are pretty surprised when they find that out. There are few people that are accepted to both business school and art school. I could have graduated from business school and maybe that would have looked better on a resume but I didn’t. It doesn’t change the type of person I am. It doesn’t change my work ethic. So what can you really know about me from knowing that I graduated from art school? I guess that I am creative, I know how to pull an all nighter and I can take criticism. But I’m sure those qualities apply to a lot of individuals who went to many different schools and studied different subjects. In an ideal world, the specific degree you took wouldn’t matter as much as the person. More jobs should offer to train new employees, mould them to be exactly what they want. Not expect people to graduate school and have all the skills and experience that they require; it is not very realistic. I always thought that graduates were supposed to bright and eager but it seems that they are seen as priveldged and entitled.
I supposed there must be some true stereotypes out there. Usually stereotypes are based on some sort of commonality. Maybe a majority of engineers love to eat tacos and their favorite color is red. Maybe history majors are obsessed with Steven King and sleep in satin sheets. If you couldn’t tell, these are completely made up characteristics, but who knows, maybe it applies to some of them. I don’t know enough of one group to make statements like that. Even if I did, I wouldn’t feel comfortable making claims since I am sure there are a few like me who are “well rounded”. It seems weird to say that about myself but I think it is an appropriate word. I have never fit into one group; I have always been able to drift between different groups because of my wide range of interests.
I guess my question at the end of all of this is really, what is better? Should someone be focused on one speciality, one or two interests and dedicate everything they have to that or should they try different things and different hobbies. I always say “I’m a jack of all trades, master of none”. I guess that is what you give up if you try to widen your circle of knowledge. I’m sure if you wanted to become a brain surgeon most of your time, if not all, would be devoted to medicine and the brain. Personally, I am happy being how I am. I don’t think I will ever burn out because I dedicate myself to a varitey of subjects. I am usually above average at whatever I try my hand at simply because when I do something I do it all the way but I doubt I will ever become the best at anything. I think I am okay with that. I’ll stick to my reading, writing, designing, weaving, drawing etc.
How the older generations view new graduates:
Money well spent?
When I was younger it all seemed simple. I knew what was coming. I would finish high school, go to university, get a job, get married etc. It didn’t matter yet what type of job I would get, I couldn’t decide anyway, I could do whatever it was that I wanted.
Fast forward to the present. I did everything I was supposed to. Went through school on the honor roll, got into whatever university I applied to, got whatever summer job I really wanted. Then it all stopped. All of a sudden, even with a degree, I can’t even get an interview to entry level positions. When I was in school I didn’t do your standard retail or fast food jobs. I worked in local museums and galleries thinking in the long run that would look better on a resume than McDonald’s. Sadly, now there is a recession, which means little to no funding to any type of job I’m actually trained to do. I probably couldn’t get a retail job now if I wanted to. Essentially everyone has more experience than I do in that field considering I have about zero. Oh wait, I worked at the gift shop in the galleries, maybe that counts.
We were raised believing we could do whatever we wanted and if we worked hard enough we would succeed. We believed this because it worked for our parents’ generation. Employers would take a chance on you even if you didn’t have the exact requirements. Entry level jobs meant you would be trained and could work your way up. Getting a job meant you could afford an apartment, a car and maybe a house if the job was good enough. You got benefits! My mom worked as a cashier at a grocery store after high school, got paid about $20/hour with full benefits. Can you imagine that today? You are lucky if you get more than minimum wage and forget about any kind of health care plan.
I always wonder if maybe it isn’t as bad as it seems. Maybe I have been spoiled expecting to be able to get a job that pays for me to have a decent apartment out of university. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect to get more than minimum wage after all my years of schooling. I would get excited about finding a job that would pay $2000/month and my dad says that I can’t even afford to live on that. So maybe no one knows what to expect. All I can do is keep putting my resume out there and hope I finally get a call.
Now to remember the good old days…
“Old Economy Steven”
When I was in school (middle school and high school) we were told to go to university. If we didn’t want to end up as bums we had to get a bachelors degree and that was that. If, of course, you didn’t have the grades for university there was always trade school but ending up there was seen as a failure in a way. So all of us young ones go off to university, get our degrees and go out to find jobs only to find that there are none. Now, they say that too many kids went to university and all the jobs are in the trades. Well, that would have been good to know about 4 or 5 years ago! Granted, even if I knew this before, there aren’t any trades that I could see myself in but that doesn’t mean that’s true for everyone. I am sure there are a huge group of people that went to university because they thought they were supposed to when in reality they may have done better in something else. I could see myself going into some 2 year programs. There are a lot of certificate programs that interest me but like I said, I was conditioned to see that as beneath me. I was an honor student, that meant university. I read an article recently that was comparing starting salaries of university graduates to comparable 2 year programs. Not only is the starting salary higher but graduates from the 2 year program have a head start experience-wise than the students who were in the 4 year program. Which brings me to my next point: experience vs. education. I’ve been debating which is the way to go, working your way up and gaining experience or going and getting a higher level of education. I think it has a lot to do with what field you want to go into. I keep looking at job postings and majority of them you need 3-5 years of experience minimum. Question is, how do I get experience if I need experience to get experience (ya, confusing)? So do I work at minimum wage jobs waiting for the perfect opening or do I go back to school and hope there is more available when I graduate with a masters? It is a confusing time to be starting out in your career. Baby boomers are retiring later, people that normally could survive on one income now need two, so why would employers want to hire us kids instead? We are a bunch of punks that think we know everything and are entitled to everything (or so I hear). There has to be something out there for something who has the skills and drive right? Please tell me I’m right. Please tell me I didn’t waste thousands of dollars on a education just to work as a barista!