This blog and podcast should be subtitled "What should Bryce do?" because he is a college student who will be graduating in a year and isn't quite sure what he wants to do.
That's okay even though it seems as though it shouldn't be okay.
Think about it....how many among us knew exactly what we wanted to do at 18 or 21? If you did and are doing it, good for you (and I dislike you...not really, but kinda). If you did, are you still doing it or did you pivot?
I often talk to students (undergraduates primarily) who are stuck. They have no idea what they want to do. They have no idea if they are prepared for whatever it is they decide to do. They have no idea.....(and leave it at that to fill in the blank).
This week's podcast had me examining and explaining different ways to get information about career choices and opportunities. (Hint: I recommend you never turn down an opportunity. You never know where it will lead. If it sucks, leave or do something else.)
The first thing I generally say is "don't overthink it." Then I ask students to tell me what they like or don't like. Often students think this means they should tell me they like math or history, but I really mean "just start talking and telling me everything you like from math to mothballs." I can help you figure most anything out just by listening to you and watching your body language (FYI, body language tells me more than words).
I am a firm believer in a liberal arts education. I am also a firm believer in apprenticeships and technical education. Each person is different. Not everyone should be at a four year college/university. We need people in all areas!
One of my favorite places to gather information about salaries and jobs/careers is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and its Occupational Outlook Handbook. I provide a general link here but feel free to peruse the site. It has much information and data.
I noted on the podcast that I would paste the colorful graphics with cartoon people (that's the technical way to phrase the graphics, btw). The graphics note what sorts of jobs/careers you might get with each level of education.
I did try to find specific information about certain careers to help our Executive Producer, Mr. Bryce Murphy. He mentioned to me that he thought he was interested in art therapy but didn't really know what that was. Having talked to and worked with him over the past couple of months, I was able to gather additional information to research (this is what I meant by getting people to just talk). Let's look at art therapy first. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook doesn't have anything for "art therapist," but it does have related fields like "psychologist." I like the BLS site because it breaks down career options and offers the following information:
What they do (what the occupation generally involves doing)
How to become one
State and area data
I then Googled Art Therapy and found a couple of websites that were helpful in my search. Careers In Psychology is an organization noting, interestingly, jobs in psychology. I was able to find a definition of art therapist as well as what it would take to become one. There is also a wonderful organization, the American Art Therapy Association, that gave even more information. Take note: You may find that there are organizations and associations that cater to your interests. Even better if the website url is a .org rather than dot-anything-else.
In Bryce's case, I looked up more than just art therapy and art therapists. I know that he is a musician. I looked up "musician" in the U.S. BLS and found that job growth was not as good as counselors and other jobs related to psychology.
I also know that he is bilingual - a huge asset - so I wanted to see where that fared in the list. According to Berlitz.com, the following careers are hot for those who are bilingual:
Customer service rep
Health care professional
And a University of Phoenix survey noted that the best languages to learn are Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, German and Portuguese. Bryce isn't doing too badly.
Of course, I want to keep him as my producer so I looked that up as well. Those job prospects are very good. I'll say. He's employed in that area.
My Arbitrary Random Stat (ARS) for the week is my own anecdotal information. As an educator, I am asked what classes I think are incredibly important from a liberal arts perspective. I studied biology as an undergraduate. As someone who has worked in a professional field and teaches in a professional program, what classes do I think are important?
And guess what, I suggest classes you can take at a college or university or take on your own through a number of outlets like Coursera, Master Classes, and other online classes – like Data Doyenne (coming soon). I am presenting a list of classes I think are important.
Writing and communication – Freaking learn how to do both!
Comparative religion – So many issues arise from a lack of knowledge of world religions. At least have a basic understanding of the big five (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism).
Basic political science – I would argue that you should know civics for cripes sake. Do you know how your government works?
Geography – Know where shit is.
Language – and/or culture – Stop being the ugly American – and travel!
History – Not just western history – some things that changed my worldview:
Travelling to Africa and trying to find anything about the history was difficult. Of course I'd read about Egypt because the pharaohs and pyramids and curses fascinated me but I have yet to find a decent book about the history of Africa or its countries. I did read The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and their race to save the world's most precious manuscripts by Joshua Hammer and I highly recommend it. As a note, I thought Timbuktu was a myth like Atlantis until several years ago.
Before I went to China I read about China’s travels – hey, Columbus wasn’t the first guy out and about. A book that really made me think is 1421 The Year China Discovered America, by Gavin Menzies.
Our own history in the United States. Lately I have been consumed (in the best way) by Native American writers and stories. To get started, I recommend anything by Louise Erdrich.
Read voices that are not your own - that means to read other opinions. You need to find common ground and to do that you must understand the other side. That doesn't mean you have to agree with them. Understanding does not mean agreement.
Don’t lose your love of learning - keep reading and watching and doing.
I would love to talk to people about their own career trajectories. Please share a story on social media or via Contact on this site.