Monday, February 14, 2011


Hey, y'all.

Well, just to let you know, my quest to try and figure out what I might go back to college for Rodney Dangerfield-style, has been going on all this time.

So much has transpired since I last wrote about this (, I feel as if the next two chapters of this woeful saga would be best rendered in a time-line format.  So here goes...

November 29'th

I have a meeting with my career transitions case worker to go over the results of a second Career Aptitude Survey.  Some tolerable "Pursue" recommendations include Manufacturer's Representative ("Look, just because the Ferris wheel rolled into the river it doesn't mean our bolts are to blame!"), Marketing Director  ("Our product only causes anal leakage now while jogging, how can we spin that?"), Advertising Account Executive ("It's the new and improved Slap Chop, now with 20% less suck!"), Media Executive ("Fox News, fair and balanced!"), Public Relations Director ("We truly believe that technology  is a tremendous boon for humanity here at Cyberdyne Corporation."), Corporate Trainer ("We truly believe that pharmaceutical bioengineering is a tremendous boon for humanity here at Umbrella Corporation."), Commercial Artist ("Hey, can I do a caricature of you for five bucks?"), Liberal Arts Professor ("So, basically, in ancient Greece, homosexuality was more commonly practiced then Sudoku."), Librarian ("Don't choo know de Dewey Decimal System!?"), Translator/Interpreter ("Shaka, when the walls fell!"), Writer/Editor ("Reeding bookz makz Inglish speeking gud!") and Architect ("Whups!  I fergot to drawr in some terlets!").

Some questionable "Explore" recommendations for me include Attorney ("I'm out of order?  You're out of order!"), Financial Planner ("Um, crazy idea here, but why don't you just stop buying stuff you can't afford?"), Hotel Manager ("Man, you do not wanna see what they pulled out of the drain in 204!"), Realtor ("Yep, this home sure is...homey."), School Superintendent ("Skin-NER!"), Secretary ("Only if I can train under Christina Hendricks."), Psychologist ("Vat ist ze nature of ze psychosis?"), Bank Manager ("Hey, look, I did find a way to take it all with me!"), Insurance Agent ("Well, sir, it says quite clearly here in section four, subsection 'B' of your policy that any claim you make will be ignored."), Retail Store Manager ("Please, kill me."), Accountant ("Please, I'm begging you, kill me."), Chef ("Mmmmm, just like mom used to boil!"), Restaurant Manager ("How the f#$@% did you manage to burn the ice cubes?"), Landscaper ("Okay, let's put a happy little tree right over here..."), Agribusiness Manager ("Hey, look, I made a tomater!"), Fashion Designer ("Fabulous!") and my own personal favorite...CEO!

Regarding the last one, I've been thinking about driving down to the headquarters building of Exxon Mobil, walking into their lobby and announcing: "I'm here, bitches!  Where's my penthouse office, $80 million dollar compensation package and private jet?" 

November 30'th

Since I hadn't "picked a specific program yet" for exploration I was prompted by the community college's website to sign up for a "General Information Session".  The introductory propaganda was actually quite amusing, since it featured rebuttals to the following hoary old myths: 
  •  "Community college is for people who can't get into university."  FALSE!  
  • "Community College is easier then university."  FALSE!
  • "All Community College degrees come with rainbow clown wigs, squirting flowers and a free trained tutu-clad Pomeranian."  FALSE!  
Actually, I kid, there were some interesting stats.  For example, one-third of the student body has previously attended university or college, 96% of students would recommend their instructors and 94% of graduates found employment in Nova Scotia.

At which point in time the Dana Scully in me has to ask: "Okay, but what percentage are actually working in their field of study?"  Sorry, I know, sometimes I can be such a prick...   

Although the meeting that followed was facilitated about as well as I could have hoped, regrettably it only covered the same self-appraisal/occupational resource/life-wheel drawing crap that I'd already been doing for the past three months.  Since this whole experience was a total bust, I immediately made a one-on-one follow-up appointment with the councilor (who henceforth will be known as "Diego") for December 14'th, hoping to glean just a little bit more information on the five or six hundred programs I was still trying to decide upon.

Meeting low point: being asked to turn to our neighbor to discus "What brought you here and what questions do you want to have answered?", only to be confronted with an apathetic, pimply-faced teen who could only grunt and say "Um...nuthin'."

Quote of the evening: (from a clearly hung-over girl to her boyfriend during the 15 minute introductory presentation) "I promise not to throw up during this and embarrass you." 

December 14'th

I drive all the way over to the appointed campus across the pond for my afternoon meeting with Diego.  When I get there I'm stunned to find that he didn't come into work that day due to a power outage in his area.

Gee, it would have been swell if someone from the college could have given me a head's up on this so I didn't schlep all the way over there for nothing.  But, hey, whattaya gonna do?

His reply email is sincerely apologetic but he tells me he's booked up for the week leading up to my departure home for, The Holidays.  The meeting is re-scheduled for January 2'nd.

January 2'nd

The meeting with Diego proves to be helpful, inspiring, eye-opening and, ultimately, a complete waste of time.  Previous to this, two other councilors helped me pare down a short list of programs I might be interested in.  This list was arrived at, in large part, due to the likelihood of receiving some sort of partial sponsorship for retraining through Career and Transition Services.  Thanks to their efforts I'd whittled things down to Architectural Engineering Technician, Environmental Engineering Technician (Water), Library & Information Technology, Business Administration, Human Resources, and Information Technology.

Now, for the purpose of taking sponsorship into consideration, my number-one choice, Screen Arts, (which hypothetically would give me the nuts n' bolts training to work in the local film industry) had already been completely jettisoned, but I kept it on the table just because it really does represent my one true passion.  In the meeting with Diego, however, he looked at my list of seven options and noticed that, in the immortal words of Big Bird "One of these things is not like the other."

"Hmmmm," he began, "I see you've included Screen Arts here, which is a bit of a departure from everything else.  How much of your free time would you say is dedicated to some pursuit regarding film?"

I paused for a second, raised the People's Eyebrow and then cautiously waded into a response to the curious question.

"Um, I dunno," I said, suddenly feeling like my lamentable, acne-ridden ward.  "If you take into account watching movies, reviewing movies, volunteering to do background work in movies, writing something that could possibly be turned into a movie, writing actual screenplays and whatnot, I'd say, oh, maybe about seventy percent of my time.  Easily."

"Well, I think you have your answer," he replied, adding fuel to my burgeoning fire of excitement.  "When I saw you come in here with all of this information you've researched and how well you'd organized all of your findings, I think that maybe some of these other options were worth looking at.  But frankly, I think you already know what you want to do."

Before I got too carried away, I explained my dilemma about being tempted with funding to study what the state considered to me more "practical".  He went on to tell me that I shouldn't dismiss the Screen Arts option outright, since he was personally aware of some students getting funding for such diverse programs as Culinary Arts (!).

"The powers that be are starting to realize that it doesn't necessarily make sense to give funding only for certain programs," he went on to explain.  "Often it's the equivalent of jamming square pegs into round holes.  Sure, these people get sponsored to fill some sort of manpower demand but what we've started to see lately is that a lot of them end up back at square one because the so-called 'practical' career they trained for either doesn't interest them or they aren't suited for it."

"Wow,"  I replied.  "That's pretty encouraging.  Frankly, the difference between me taking Screen Arts in September versus anything else is that if I was taking Screen Arts, I'd actually be excited to start school as opposed to feeling a sense of dread."

"Now I don't want to set up any unrealistic expectations," he cautioned, sensing that certain wild horses needed holding.  "Get in touch with the case worker who'll facilitate your application and find out for sure if it's a viable option."

Before I ran back across the parking lot yelling "WHOOP-WHOOP-WHOOP!" I had to ask:

"I was kinda hoping that, with your close proximity to the school itself, you might be able to answer a few lingering questions I have about each of the other programs, just in case I do have to pick one of them."

"Well, actually, I don't have much inside knowledge about the other specific programs you have listed here.  But frankly, I don't think you need any more information.  I think if you end up getting more information it's just going to result in more confusion and paralysis."

"Yeah!" I enthused.  "I agree!  That's exactly what's been happening to me lately!"  

I thanked Diego profusely, rushed home, composed an email to the appropriate councilor, sent it off, and then spent the rest of the day filling out the application.  The next day, this was his reply:

While any program recognized by the provincial department of education is technically eligible for consideration under Skills Development, there are some significant practical considerations that must be covered in the application. The application package must clearly define the specific reason why you are unable to find sustainable employment using your current marketable skills and assets, how the chosen training would help you to overcome each of them and how likely you are to find employment upon completion of the training. It is this last one that works against screen arts. The local film and TV industry was hit very hard by the recession and, coupled with the recently announced cancellation of the provincial rebates for film projects, there are very few opportunities in this field (as an aside, Culinary Arts, while a creative program, does qualify graduates for a specific type of employment)."

I sat staring at this for awhile, realizing that a response was futile and feeling somewhat defeated.

I then proceeded to sign up for three more information sessions that I wasn't really interested in.

EPIC:  "Hey, kids, wanna see what unrealistic fantasy job that doesn't exist in the real world that you should be doing?"

FAIL:  Hey, who hasn't wished that they could just pee into their golf club?


John M said...

Just to state the obvious, something involving creative writing might work. Speech writer? Ad copywriter? Part of above nearly sounds like a stand-up sketch and those critters do employ writers. Film/TV critic (since you're doing that for free anyway ...)

In any case, best of luck!

David Pretty said...

Hi, John.

Thanks for the kind comments. I'd love to pursue any of the avenues you've mentioned but unfortunately two things are preventing me from doing so:

(1) Every career councillor I've talked to has told me that there are no opportunities in those fields and I need to concentrate on some practically-minded square peg/round hole retraining.
(2) The complete of utter dearth of leads (as well as my own apparent inability to "sniff out" gigs) has caused me to suspect that they are right.

I guess by doing the blog at least I have a chance of being "discovered" by someone either in authority or with contacts. I remain optimistic that the right person at the right time may read this and grant me some semblance of a happy future.

Again, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Have a good one!