Sunday, August 31, 2008

Choosing a career : A personal experience

(This post is a mirror copy of my blog post in Web Writing).

For the last two weeks, the topic for my "Reading and Writing" class in a local university was "career". We read three articles in the textbook - and we ended up with a lengthy discussion about my students' interests and where they think they are heading to.

We discussed the reasons why people would work, and what would be my students' personal reasons. Some of their answers got me to think about myself. Like most people, I work for money - but not for a lot of money, just enough to sustain my life. I place a higher priority on learning. Yes, for me to stay interested in my job, I've got to be able to learn new things - once work becomes a routine and my learning graph becomes static, I would become restless and start looking for a new job.

That explains why in my resume, I only stayed for about 3 years in a place - or simply put as why I job-hopped. And it also explains why I now become a freelancer.

In the class, we also discussed about identifying our personal talents, strengths and interests in order to determine our career paths. And I came across some students who somehow reflected myself - they have too many interests and thus, it's hard for them to decide on a career path. Like them, I want to know and be everything. I used to dream of becoming an architect, but I was also interested in arts - and I had wanted to be a writer too. Due to my family's financial constraints though, I ended up taking a scholarship to be a trained teacher.

I loved teaching, but I had wanted to learn other things too - so, right after I'd completed my 7-years contract with the government , I'd become a web-content writer for a web-designing company, and later a subject-matter experts coordinator cum editor with a company dealing with educational software. That was when I found out that I'm actually a people person. Working in an office facing the computer most of the time had made me feel a bit lonely. I missed noises, and I missed being surrounded by young faces that adore me. So, I went back to teach in a local college.

Teaching in a college proved to be more satisfactory than teaching in the secondary school. Students were more willing to learn, thus I had less problem with class management. I had more freedom to experiment with my teaching methods and approaches too, since colleges have soundproof classrooms. But once I'd taught all subjects possible for all the faculties in that college, and my learning graph had become static again, I just couldn't resist trying on something new.

Being a freelancer, I get to continue doing what I love - teaching - and at the same time I'm free to explore new areas that I'm interested in. I am teaching in three different places on and off, so I get to experience three different teaching environments - one deals with the international students, another deals with all-male technical students and the other one deals with human sciences students from religious education background. On top of that, whenever I don't have classes, I can learn about financial planning, how to pitch for sales and at times be a sub-translator for those who are doing it on a full-time basis.

And being me - these are not enough. I'm still far away from calling myself a "writer", and I want to be one. Plus, I have another ambition that haven't been realized - I want to study interior design, and I want to be a farmer, too.

So... how do I advise my students on how to choose their career paths?

I told them they can choose one area of interest, study it deeper and deeper, and they will be called as "experts" in that area. Famous and rich.

Or they can explore all of their interests for the sake of experiencing and "knowing" about each, but they will be just like me - not established in any field. Not rich, yet content. :D

Yes, that's me - Mima.

We ended our class with a thought-provoking poem by Robert Frost - "The Road Not Taken".

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