sojourns in careerland

I think I'm finally going to do it - I think I'm going to change my major.

It's not that I don't want to be the globetrotting National Geographic reporter anymore. It's just that as I'm going through classes, I'm realising that my skills don't always necessarily match my aspirations. Which is part of the reason I've thrown around so many career ideas. There are a million possibilities I'm interested in, some that I'd be proficient at, but few I'd really be good at.

When I took my aptitude test my sophomore year of high school, two of the top ten careers that matched my aptitudes were pastry chef and mortician. Maybe I should have paid attention to those sooner - if one thing's for sure, people are never going to stop eating or dying. The job outlook for what I'm interested in now - social scientist - is a little less in demand, but I think it's something I could get excited about working on every day.

Anthropology is the area of social science I'd like to concentrate on, although I don't have a specific career in mind yet. I've already taken linguistic anthropology, and am starting my Japanese minor this semester, so the linguistic aspect is looking interesting right now. There are a few jobs outside the fieldwork/academic setting that I could go into, as well.

First there is Interpretor. Although I haven't started Japanese classes yet, I am very interested in mastering the language, and if I'm going to be taking it anyway, I might as well put it to use careerwise. Interpretors translate spoken words at conferences or interviews. You have to have a complete knowledge of the language and be able to translate it quickly. I'm not sure if this is the branch for me, but there are others. Especially not my area if the movie The Interpretor was any accurate depiction of the job. Apparently if you are able to translate an obscure language for the U.N., scary masked men will show up at your apartment, and then Sean Penn will have to stare into your window from across the street in order to "protect" you. Not sure which of those alternatives is creepier.

Then there is Translator. This is more my style - translators are often able to work from home, and there is less immediate pressure because you can take time to translate written words. In the case of Japanese, though, I would have to have a more thorough knowledge of the alphabet, and with 1945 kanji characters mandatory for proficiency in everyday reading, that is no small task.

There is also Linguistic Anthropologist. This could be closer to my original idea of traveling around, doing fieldwork, and writing reports. I'm interested in helping unravel the mysteries of the indiginous Ainu language in Japan.

Whatever option I choose could be an interesting career, I suppose. And there is some comfort in the following saying by Mother Gavrilia, an Orthodox nun: "What does God want me to do? Be here or go there? The answer was: God is not interested in where you are or what you do...He is interested only in the quality and quantity of the love you give. Nothing else. Nothing else." This, however, is a lifelong vocation. Anything else I do is just a job.

Right now I'm still in the mindset of "what I want to be when I grow up." But then again, I'll probably be in that mindset until one day I suddenly realise I'm old, and that last thing I was doing was the closest I came to an actual 'career.' "Ha," I'll say. "I used to want to teach English in Japan!" Maybe I'll laugh about it over a plate of pastries with my coworkers at the morgue.


blooming desertpea said...

We seem to have a few things in common:

- I'm interested in languages, Im able to speak 5, although I'm not proficient in all of them. I don't speak Japanese, although I can imagine it to be interesting but tough to learn (so I've heard).

- I took Anthropology as a majoring subject at University. The anatomy, history and genetics of humankind have always interested me and still do.

It's good to know what you want and at the same time be open and have the courage to change your mind if necessary, which you have obviously done. Congrats to you. :)

blooming desertpea said...

Btw. my visual DNA is completely different from yours. Use this link if you're curious:


Alien Cat said...

Nooooooooooooo!!! Or at least go with Anthropology... I can assure you that being an interpreter or a translator isn't even one fifth as exciting as being a reporter!!! I threw a journalism dream out of the window for a career in languages, and that was the dumbest thing I ever did. Although I'm fluent in 4 languages and also know bits of 3 others, I really *hated* translation. It's soooo boring. And being an interpreter isn't really exciting -- you just repeat what other people are saying in a different language. Also, it's very very stressful (my teachers in translation school who worked as simultaneous interpreters used to tell us that you may get a very strong headache after a conference, so strong that you need to rest in the dark for a few hours, and you should always carry a box of aspirin in your purse). I realized I like languages because I like traveling and talk directly to people from different countries so I can get to know their culture more in depth. If that is what you like too, go for Linguistic Antrhopology maybe, but, trust me, translation won't do the trick ;-)

Like you, I have changed my mind many times about what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I finally found it out. Graphic/Interactive Design seems to be it, I have a lot of fun and I love being creative, but a part of myself will always regret not trying too hard to be a journalist...

Greta said...

desertpea > wow, 5 languages...that's impressive! Mind if I ask which ones? It's definitely an interest in humans and culture that make me wish I could speak all of them. :)

alien cat > thanks for the advice. I had also thought of the facts that interpreting would probably be stressful, and translating boring. But then I got to thinking...honestly, what career will not be boring at some time? And could I really be happy with just one job for the rest of my life anyway? I guess I won't know until I have a "real" job down the road. Glad to hear you found one that suits you!