I few weeks ago I sat on a panel at Mount Royal College University here in Calgary. The panel was for new students to the Faculty of Communications which encompasses the Broadcasting, Journalism, Public Relations and Information Design programs.
I had a great time, but was struck by the number of students who had parents or family questioning as to whether their learning path was the best for them. Many had questions like “is there work in this field?”, “what do you see as the job opportunities ahead for people studying X?” to “can you really make money doing X?”, or “isn’t this sector on the decline?”.
During the panel discussion I spoke of my varied career path — from a musician, to bookseller, to dot-com (where I was a project manager, producer, user experience, front-end developer), to teacher, to banking (product management, channel management & strategy and web analytics), and currently information architecture.
The important point I tried to get across is that many of us go to school intending to be one thing, but that our various interactions in life lead on new and often diverse paths. You might be one of those who just specializes, but few now days do (other than say my dentist or doctor). Instead, embrace these opportunities to try new things and follow your passions and gut instincts. Work hard and do what you like. Life will work its way out.
Personally, I love this quote from the Tinkering School‘s Gever Tulley: “Instead of having a career path, always do the most interesting thing you can. A career-path will only get you to retirement. Follow your interests obsessively, sacrifice everything, and keep doing it. Eventually it will turn into something both amazing and surprising. Along the way you will do things that you never thought you would, find yourself in places that you never imagined you would go, and back and say “Wow! What a fun ride that was! Can I go again?”