Arts Career Expo 2009

Otherwise known as “Finding Out What You Don’t Want to Do” — for me.

But I thought that was too long and misleading for the title post.

Let me also preface the rest of my post by saying that this — finding out what you don’t want to do — is a good thing. While knowing what you want to do is ideal, knowing what you don’t want to do and why you don’t want to do it gets you closer to finding what you do want to do.

But first a quick note on how much I love the Arts Dean Nancy Gallini. I think she is the one person in the world who I’ve ever heard talk about an Arts degree with such genuine enthusiasm and passion. Most people who talk about the good of an Arts degree seem to be quoting ad lib from some other source, almost as though they’re trying to convince you (the Arts degree-holder) that what they’re saying is true. While I would readily switch faculties to Engineering or Commerce if English lit suddenly ended up in there, Dean Gallini is the one person who’s ever made me appreciate an Arts degree. That’s quite an accomplishment, considering the flack Arts students get from other faculties.

The two panel discussions out of several I attended were: Media & Communications, and the Law panel. The panel discussions are really why I returned to the Expo this year: I learn so much by having these alumni there to discuss their jobs and answer questions.

By the way, I’ve never been drawn to either the media & communications or law fields. When people keep asking you what are you going to do with your English degree, though, it’s hard to not feel pressurised and wonder if you should consider those jobs after all. Aren’t English students destined for journalism, law or teaching anyway? While I’ve almost completely obliterated teaching from the picture (it’s enjoying a recent resurrection in my mind), I decided there was no harm in at least checking out these panels.

And of course there’s no harm in listening and asking questions and finding out whether you want to find out more. In fact, it’s pretty awesome. This is what I learned:

  • Jobs in Media and Communications, be it journalism, human resources or public relations, all tend to be very fast-paced jobs. A hundred things can happen in a day — in a single hour. This is fantastic if you love a fast-paced environment.
    But I don’t. I like having the time and space to work at a more moderate pace.
  • A law degree does not equate to being a lawyer; it opens you up to so many other possibilities but you need a driving reason to push you through the three years of expensive law school. One lawyer really enjoys seeing both sides of an argument and debating, which I think is a great reason to be interested if you like this stuff.
    While I appreciate analysis and logical thinking, it’s not something I voluntarily keep up for long periods of time. It’s personal, face-to-face, one-to-one interaction that I care about the most; dealing with people and feeling like I’m offering some kind of service to them, however small it may be.

So I’m done toying with these ideas that I was only playing with out of fear. Maybe if one day I were actually interested in these fields for their own sake — and not because I’m afraid of my unknown future — it’ll be worth looking at them again, but for now…

I would love it if I could continue doing the kind of work I do at Speakeasy in the future, but I always thought that you need a Psychology degree to get into any kind of counselling. Someone tell me I’m wrong. Normally I dislike networking events because it saps so much of my energy, but during the mix-and-mingle, I found the lady who was an English literature graduate and also volunteered for Speakeasy when she was at UBC, and asked her what kinds of things I could do to keep building on what I have now; she suggested volunteering at the Crisis Centre. Must look that up. (I didn’t ask about counselling, though.)

I want to help people, however small. I want to interact with people personally. I want to work at a moderate pace, in my own time and space. I want to keep learning. I want to write creatively, not purely factually: to write my visions in symbols, metaphors and allusions. I want to do something I personally find meaningful.

I want to do something I’m passionate about, as passionate as I am about my learning right now; I don’t want to settle for less than this, knowing how much happiness there is in doing what I love.

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