The question is, what would you like to do after you leave school?
Most teenagers have no idea what they want to do after high school. Many don’t even have the foggiest notion in which direction they want to go, medical or engineering, for example. This is not surprising actually.
There are so many careers, never mind jobs, that it’s hard to decide, especially when your experience of life is limited to the classroom walls, digital media, and TV.
The great tragedy is that some jobs are perceived as superior to others, in-fact, many jobs are considered “not a proper job!”
One of the worst things people can say about your job is, “you mean you get paid for doing that - all day?” I once photographed a group of men and women who taste beer all day!
These are highly sought after and prized individuals; the future of the company and its employees rests to a large extent on their taste buds. Very few people have the right skills - err, taste buds to do that job!
I was a professional photographer in those days; I made my living from taking photographs all day, every day. I always thought it was a proper job.
What do parents think is a “proper job?” What are the criteria they use to determine what a proper job is, or isn’t?
At the top of the vast majority of the criteria will be - does it make money? The answer to that is how much money the parents regard as enough. Suffice to say that it’s hardly ever enough.
Then there are the moral criteria. Imagine the conversation. “What is XXX doing now that she’s left school?” She’s become a masseuse - oh no no, not THAT kind - a proper massage lady, she uses her hands, and she’s studied hard.” Oh dear! And there’s that word ‘proper’ again.
I’m sure you know exactly what the response is when the teen announces that he is going to become a rock star - it's somehow sounds worse when it’s a daughter who wants to play in a rock and roll band, maybe because it's so unusal.
In my research for this story I came across a few very unusual real dinkum jobs; a sex toy tester, a personal shopper, an embalmer, a body part model, a human statue, a panda caretaker, a Google tricycle mapper, a fountain pen doctor, a chicken sexer, a snake milker, and one that I’d love, an island caretaker.
People actually get paid to do these things. (I sound just like a parent here!)
In today’s world, people tend not to stay in one job for too long. There are many people who have qualified for one career, but are doing another. It’s one thing when that happens, and they make the decision to change their jobs, or even their careers themselves.
But it’s scandalous when a child is “forced” into doing something they are not suited for, or have no interest in.
That hoary old story, “once you have a degree behind you, then you can become an actress, a dress designer, an artist, or whatever. The kind of degree to be studied for is not an issue, so long as you have a degree. What a waste!
Many years ago I was stationed in Kimberley, South Africa, doing my army bit. Being an officer, I was allowed into town after hours and soon met up with some nurses. Now I figured being an army officer or a trained nurse were respectable jobs.
To my horror I realised - most forcefully - that Kimberley’s young people of either sex, were forbidden to even talk to army or nursing personnel.
In the eyes of Kimberley parents we didn’t have proper jobs you see, so I guess we were not proper people.
In Part 2 we look at what criteria should be used in making a decision about what job one should have, and the expectations of both the parents and the child.
In Part 3 we explore what “dividends” a job should deliver.