Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dreams Die Hard

Greetings, Gregarious Gawkers of the Garbled!

Well, for the past few weeks I've been taking advantage of the Career and Transition Services offered by  one of the major community colleges here in Halifax.  In the first meeting with my Career Development Specialist (I'm not making that up, it says so right on her card!) we went over all the pie-in-the-sky results that fell out of my Career Matchmaker results (Conveniently covered here:, Yer Ever-Lovin' Host).

We did this by using an Employment Prospects database which is supposed to house accurate labor market information about every possible career path.  If you want to have a boo, I've enlinkified if for you right here:

Just for fun, we looked at a few careers that I actually have a vested interest in (like Film Crew) and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it held the "Growing" status when we looked at Employment Prospects.

"Hold on for a second," my CDS said.  "You really need to look at the number of people in the province that are currently employed in that same sector to get a feel for the job market.  Then you need to check out how many opening's they estimate there'll be over the next few years."

I leaned forward into her computer screen as she conjured up the information.

"Hmmmm, it doesn't look very good," she said.  "According to this, in 2008, four-hundred and twenty eight people were employed in that industry.  They estimate that only sixteen openings will appear over the next five years."

Sixteen?  In half a freakin' decade?  Cripes...

I expressed despair that the results I was most interested in would all be ruled out by this devil database.  She tut-tutted my concern.

"Let's not take anything off the table just yet.  Your level of interest is still a very important factor.  I'm going to give you some homework.  Research all of your results by running them through this database.  Hopefully you'll find something that will strike an acceptable balance between your desire to find a practical career and something with a creative bent."

I did one better then that.  I also went through every one of the programs and courses offered by the college as well.

I started by eliminating everything that I had no interest in.  This instantly ruled out any the following career nightmare scenarios:
  •  A plane goes down in a fiery ball of ruin just because I had a bad day and didn't tighten a lugnut.
  • A set of stairs in an apartment complex collapses because I didn't "carry the two."
  • Counseling people that are strung out on Oxycontin and have a live mail carrier buried somewhere in their backyard and time is running out.  
  • Examining fluids produced by the human body.
  • Cleaning up fluids produced by the human body.  Let's just say that anything bedpannish is right out. 
  • Grooming another human's body.
  • Embalming a dead human's body.
  • Sticking my hand into another human being's mouth (or any other orifice for that matter). 
  • Something that would threaten to turn me into a suit-and-tie-wearing douchebag. 
  • Anything involving fashion, hair, makeup or interior design.  Look, it's not like I'm not confident in my masculinity, I just have all the taste of a low-fat rice cake.
  • Anything involving tiny insane people (i.e. kids).
  • Careers involving copious amounts of electricity.
  • Office administration.  Frankly, the embalming route is more attractive to me than this.    
So, with these things duly excised, here's what I was left with.  Below you'll see the program/course name, the employment prospects, my interest level ("5" being "Yes, baby, YES!"/"I'll have what he's having!" and "1" being "Sure, whatever.  Let's boogaloo 'til we puke.") and finally a brief description (since I had no  f#@$%^&amp clue what half of these meant myself):

American Sign Language/English Interpretation 
Prospects: FAIR                    Interest Level:  3
This would be for translators, terminologists and interpreters.  One minor stumbling block (as I'm fond of saying): "I'm bilingual...I can't speak either language!"  Also my current repertoire for sign language is limited to obscene gestures.

Architectural Engineering Technician               
Prospects: GOOD                  Interest Level: 2
This would involve all aspects of building design, construction and inspection.  Frankly, it's a bit too close for comfort to my second objection in the bullet list above.

Baking/Pastry Art             
Prospects: FAIR                     Interest Level: 1
My significant other asked me to bake a special birthday cake for her this year.  I told her: "Look, you don't want me to do that unless you never wanna see another birthday."

Cooking/Culinary Arts          
Prospects: GOOD                   Interest Level: 3
When my kitchen is clean and I have all the ingredients I need I actually love to cook.  I'm very good at it.  Just don't ask me how many oven mitts, cutting boards or plastic spatulas I've sent to an early grave, m'okay?

Computer Electronics Technician
Prospects: FAIR                      Interest Level: 3
I'd be working with hardware, software, electronic widgets, and networks, to repair and maintain computer electronics.  Trouble is, to me, computers are like cars.  I turn the key, the f#@$%^ starts and I'm off to the races.  Could be a cotton candy machine under the hood for all I know (or care).

Computer Service Technician
Prospects: GOOD                   Interest Level: 1
This course is designed to develop your technical and customer service skills so that you become the company's "go-to" guy.  Translation: "I appreciate your call to our technical support line today but if you seriously thought your computer's disc drive was a beverage holder I'm afraid I'm going to have to laugh in your face and hang up on you now, okay?  HAW!" *CLICK*

Digital Animation
Prospects: FAIR                    Interest Level: 5
Work in a real studio environment to develop your aptitude for the art of visual storytelling by honing your  creative and technical skills required for a job in animation.  Now we're cookin' with gas!  I'd really be down with the clown on this one.

Drafting (Architectural or Mechanical Flavors)
Prospects: FAIR                    Interest Level: 3
Prepare working drawings for buildings or mechanical devices using Computer Assisted Drafting.  Which begs the question: what's the point of drawing something if you have zero interest in what you draw?  Hmmmm?  Hmmmmm??!

Environmental Engineering Technology - Water
Prospects: GOOD                 Interest Level: 4
I'd become an engineering technologist by protecting, preserving, developing and directing the usage of this life-giving resource.  After graduation I could become an eco-crusader and change my name to "Hydron" or "Captain Moistpants".  Er, on second thought, "Hydron" will do.  Bonus points: my astrological sign is a Water sign.  OMG!

Health Information Management                 
Prospects:  FAIR                  Interest Level: 3
Use computers and empirical data to improve health care delivery from a managerial and financial standpoint.  Hey, looks like I can do my best to improve society and maintain a healthy distance from you germy bastards after all!

Geographic Sciences - Cartography Concentration
Prospects: FAIR                    Interest Level: 3
With this I'd design and compose maps that are both aesthetically pleasing and practical.  My first step: making a map that you can actually fold back into it's original shape.

Graphic & Print Production           
Prospects: FAIR to LIMITED          Interest Level: 2 or 5
Learn all aspects of the printing industry through on-site experience in print shops and similar work environments.  My level of interest is "5" if I could apply this to either my own (or someone else's) visual/graphic art, but "2" if all it does is qualify me to work at "Kinko's".

Horticulture (Landscape or Operations) 
Prospects: FAIR or LIMITED         Interest Level: 3
Landscaping, park maintenance, greenhouse operation or, live to dream, golf course attendant.  That's right, you too can be Carl Spackler from Caddyshack!

Human Resource Management                     
Prospects: GOOD                  Interest Level: 2
I'd be involved with recruitment, staff training, wage inquiries, performance appraisals, dispute moderation and also get to shit-can folks when my greedy company decides to ship all the job to Southeast Asia under the guise of remaining "globally competitive".

Information Technology - Database Management
Prospects: GOOD                 Interest Level: 3
Create, maintain, and manage the databases that protect and organize information for organizations.  This is so dull there isn't even a joke here.  "Nothing to see here folks, move along!  Go home and watch Hawaii Five-0 or something."

Information Technology - Programming          
Prospects: GOOD                 Interest Level: 1
Programmer, Programmer Analyst, or Quality Control Specialist.  "Hey, kids, wanna slowly go blind while staring at pages of indecipherable code looking for a needle in an electronic haystack?"  Frankly, I'd rather scrape my own genitals off with a salad fork...

Information Technology - Networking             
Prospects: GOOD                Interest Level: 3
Become proficient at managing major network operating systems and consolidating protocol.  I.E. excitement anti-matter.

Information Technology - Web Development   
Prospects: FAIR                   Interest Level: 4 
Become a Web Developer, Web Application Developer, or Website Designer.  Does anyone else find it ironic that the higher my interest, the lower the prospects are?  Why the f#@$% am I hardwired like this?!?

Library & Information Technology           
Prospects: FAIR                   Interest Level: 4
Technicians help certified librarians dispense the many services offered by libraries. They can also direct the efforts of staff, student interns, fellow techs and may also be responsible for a section of a library (or the entire library if it's "wee").  Hey, who wouldn't want to support an organization that provides free public access to books, CD's and (especially) DVD's?   It's holy work, I tells ya... 

Medical Lab Technician                  
Prospects:  FAIR to GOOD(insists my CDS!) Interest Level: 2
Do lab tests and investigations to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease.  See # 4 in bullet point list above. 
Medical Transcription                     
Prospects: FAIR                                         Interest Level: 3
Become proficient in medical language and provide accurate healthcare documentation.  Hey, if I ain't there to accurately interpret your Doctor's terrible handwriting on that prescription bottle you could end up growing (extra) bosoms!  Hmmm, why do I suspect that for many of you dudes out there this wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing?

Music Arts                                     
Prospects: LIMITED                                  Interest Level: 5
Get ready for an independent career in music by developing your business and self-promotion skills as well as your own, unique musical sound!   Y'know I've always wanted to be in a band.  I even have a name picked out for this eventuality:  Chainsaw Enema.  No?  Okay, how 'bout The Flaming Eureathras?   No?  Um, okay...   

Music Business                              
Prospects: LIMITED                                  Interest Level: 1
Learn the business skills needed to become an artist manager, agent, or publisher in the dynamic world of live and recorded music.  Watch the first 45 seconds of this video and you'll see why I rated this a "1".  Oh, and then watch the rest of the video, 'cuz it's good for ya.

Occupational Health & Safety          
Prospects: FAIR                               Interest Level:  3
Graduates are at the vanguard leading and developing safe and healthy workplace environments.  Not sure if I wanna be the corporate version of a Hall Monitor, though.

Prospects: FAIR                               Interest Level: 2            
This program would help me learn the process and procedures of a law firm and establish a comprehension of legal theory.  In my opinion there's only one thing worse than being a lawyer: being a lawyer's butt-monkey.

Prospects: LIMITED                        Interest Level: 4
Balance creativity, composition, lighting and technical know-how to produce professional-level photos.  I would actually like to do this, so that's why the prospects are "LIMITED"  Grrrrrrrrrrrr....  

Power Engineering                                   
Prospects:  GOOD                           Interest Level: 3
This would prepare me to safely and efficiently maintain and operate power, refrigeration, natural gas, and air compressor plants.  Now if the prospects of Your Humble Narrator appointed to some level of responsibility at one of these facilities scares you half as much as it scares You Humble Narrator then I think it's safe to say that we're all on the same page on this one...

Public Relations                          
Prospects: FAIR   Interest  Level:  4 for Communications, otherwise 2
Develop your tools of communication to help companies map out objectives, implement strategic plans, and measure results.  Could also be interpreted as: Develop your bullshit skills to help companies get away with corporate crime.  I'm just sayin', is all.

Radio and Television Arts       
Prospects:  FAIR to LIMITED                         Interest Level:  5
Forge the knowledge and skills required to work behind the scenes or on-air in the realm of radio and television.  In a relevant point, two of my heroes are Ron Burgandy and Dr. Johnny Fever.  'Nuff said.

Recording Arts                                        
Prospects: FAIR                               Interest Level: 4
Learn the creative and technical aptitude to work in music recording/production by employing state of the art equipment.  Y'know, I've always dreamed about legitimizing my penchant for screaming "MORE COWBELL!" randomly in public.

Screen Arts                                             
Prospects:  FAIR                               Interest Level: 5+
Write a script, build and dress sets, lens and edit a film, co-ordinate a production.  No word of a lie, I truly believe that this program was the reason I was put on this earth.

Well, when I showed my Case Worker these results, she immediately eliminated all but nine options:
  • Architectural Engineering Technician
  • Environmental Engineering Technician - Water
  • Health Information Management 
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information Technology
  • Library and Information Technology
  • Medical Lab Technician/Transcription
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Power Engineering
Now, trust me, she didn't weed out the other options to be mean.  She did it based on my request for  recommendations that will give me quantifiable skills, some level of sponsorship, and a chance at a sustainable career.

I just makes me sad that certain obvious options are staring me in the face and I have to turn my back on them.  Again.  I could claim ignorance when first I missed out on these opportunities when I was fresh out of High School, but what will be my excuse now if I don't follow my heart, Triumph-style?  Statistics?  Fear?  Reality?

I've been staring at this far too long.  It's like proof-reading a term paper a million times and being afraid to turn it in because you're convinced that you made some sort of fatal error.            

"I...I can't make a decision based on what's left," I told my case worker.  "There's no easy answer.  It's almost like I need to consult a psychic or something to take my indecision out of it."

But then I realized: I don't need a soothsayer or a seer.  My last entry proved that I have at least a small handful of readers, all in possession of more collective wisdom than I could ever hope for.

I have two possible avenues as I see it:
  1. Pick a program that offers a chance for me to develop biddable skills, which hopefully will, in turn, translate into a long-term and fairly secure career at the expense of personal interest.  
  2. Select a course that I'm hella-passionate about but will likely receive no funding for and represents a career that's tenuous at best.  
This is the only time I'll ever ask you to do something for me, I promise!

So, I put the question before you now, Charitable Readers.  Of the two options above, which avenue would you pursue if you were in my shoes?  I desperately need your advise, please! 

C'mon, it'll be fun, like those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books you used to read as a kid, except this time you'll be playing ducks and drakes with the life of a real, live human being!  C'mon, that's kinda cool, isn't it?  

Leave your comments below or shoot me an email at  Don't just vote, let me know what you really think!  I'll share any feedback I get right here, other than messages like "YOU ARE TEH SUCK", since I'm already well aware of that.

Seriously.  I need your help here. 

I anxiously await the imminent tsunami of wisdom!     

EPIC:   Speaking of wisdom...



Brodie said...

I gotta go with:

Pick a program that offers a chance for me to develop biddable skills, which hopefully will, in turn, translate into a long-term and fairly secure career at the expense of personal interest.

With those skills AND passion, who knows what'll happen. You might still be able to apply your passion to something you didn't know was out there yet.

David Pretty said...

Hey, thanks for voting!

Is there any specific program/training/course path listed above (or something you have personal experience with that isn't amongst these options)that you can personally vouch for?

I'm trying to find out what's worked for other people...

Brodie said...

I haven't experienced any of them personally, but life has a funny way of changing ALL the time - if you've got marketable skills, those skills are transferrable. Granted, you might end up doing something loathsome for a while, but you'll get paid for it, and later, that loathsome work might reveal something else that'll help you out.

Your passion is worth following, absolutely, but the future is blurry, and what your passion is now, might not be your passion after a few years. Skills never fade :)