Occasionally I am hit by a feeling, as I am sure most other people out there in the world are, that I am doing the wrong thing. This tends to happen when I have had a frustrating day at work or when I hear about someone else doing something so indescribably awesome (living in Barcelona but also sailing the high seas; being a trapeze artist; chucking it all in and taking up surfing professionally) that I cannot help but indulge in a small session of lot bewailment and wondering what I am doing in all the other places in the Multiverse.
Don’t get me wrong: I am pretty good in my chosen career and I love the place where I work, but after listening to a particularly scathing attack by the much vaunted and deservedly celebrated Rhod Gilbert, (a person whom incidentally I admire above others due in no small part on his ability to sustain high levels of vitriolic and eloquent fury, when lesser mortals would self-immolate due to the power of their unbridled rage) on my profession of choice, I did wonder a bit what does a grownup do if they what to change careers but have no idea what they would do instead.
Because, you see, there are all sorts of careers advicey resources and places that young people can access, but I am told most of the good ones/free ones are totally ageist and rubbish and don’t let older folk at the goods. And I have memories from trying one of those services ‘cough cough ahem’ years ago, when I was doing my A-levels (note I didn’t say A1/A2 or whatever they are called nowadays, which fairly accurately reflects my age, when qualifications were straightforward and all was nought but fields).
I went along to the careers advisory place in town, and I got to use the latest technology and answer a series of questions on a computer which would then analyse my responses scientifically and then give me a shortlist of jobs I could consider. Unsurprisingly, the list that the special scientific computer programme returned was more of a ridiculously long list incorporating every mortal thing from funeral director to stockbroker via event manager and accountant.
I recall sitting at the workstation, feeling simultaneously under- and overwhelmed. Underwhelmed by the basic usefulness of the program which took 45 minutes of my young life and did not help me in any way apart from giving me a massive list (I suspect the “program” may just have been a spreadsheet list of all careers possible, for all the scientific analysis it performed) and overwhelmed by the sheer size of the list and the number of careers that I hadn’t thought about let alone knew existed, leaving me with the onerous job of finding out what the heck a Wrinkle Chaser, a Pathoecologist, an Ocularist or any number of other odd careers were.
Suffice to say, I generally ignored the ‘advice’ that I was dispensed – n.b. for ‘advice’ please read ‘epic list from a computer’ as that was the extent of the support given by this place, because the human being at the counter by the door gave me more or less the same level of help as the pot plant standing next to the workstation – and decided to make my own way in the world. Which was cool and has worked in its own way.
But now what does one do? Where can one go to find a new career path? I Googled the phrase “Job hunting”. On the first page I was greeted with the Wikipedia page, whose initial description left me feeling little short of depressed:
“Job hunting, job seeking, or job searching is the act of looking for employment, due to unemployment or discontent with a current position. The immediate goal of job seeking is usually to obtain a job interview with an employer which may lead to getting hired. The job hunter or seeker typically first looks for job vacancies or employment opportunities.”
And left me with the suspicion that the type of person who needs to look this up in order to understand what job seeking actually means is probably not the person whom anybody wishes to employ.
So what are your other options? Thankfully the internets has a suggestion or two. You could use one of those new whizzy careers programmes which seem to be, in essence, a slightly slicker and faster version of the careers list. I just tried the University of Kent's Careers Explorer and got this uninspiring list of potential careers:
Bank Manager - Retail
Banker - Investment/Securities
I am one of these already and, as for the rest, I would rather pull my own face off rather than do any one of those careers. Do I look like a gitwizard?
What next? Traditionally if a man wanted to ‘forget’ all he had to do was rock up at the gates of the local branch of The Foreign Legion, sign up with a fake name so that he could escape his past, and spend the next however long sweating in the sun and forgetting whatever it was that originally made him think that signing up to the Foreign Legion was a good idea. Times have changed and as you can see, the Foreign Legion has a pretty swanky website, and, seemingly, some quite good recruitment packages and a good monthly wage. But you do have to give you real name these day and (and this is a very big but) I don’t think they allow girls in.
Inspired by the young man in a poem by Michael Rosen poem from the fantastic ‘You Can’t Catch Me’, which involves running away and joining the Merchant Navy (I can’t find the poem online, but if any of you can, let me know. It is wicked!) I thought about living the life travelling the world and getting to wear supercool white outfits. But while this would please me greatly for a short while, I think I’d be happier following the actions of Rosen’s young sailor and coming home the very next day and drinking up all the gravy.
Rapidly running out of ideas, I started typing the phrase “how can I become a mercenary” into Google, somewhat unnerved by the rapidity of the predictive text, fully discombobulated by the 9,000,000-odd results that appeared, and deeply irritated by the fact that most of the people posting these questions up couldn’t spell for toffee. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t like any mercenary type work being done to me by someone who couldn’t even write their invoice properly. I think my ability to wield my words bedecked with mostly correct spelling and grammar makes me overqualified for the job. That and the minor issue of having no warrior skills in particular to boast about, preclude a career as a soldier of fortune.
There’s nothing for It, I simply have no other option but be grateful for what I’ve got. Considering all the other jobs I am doing in the Multiverse, the really awful ones - Puzzle Piece Checker, Flatulence Analyst, Cat Food Quality Controller or any of the other jobs listed in the 8 worst jobs shortlist – things could be worse. A lot worse.
I could be a traffic warden.