EDITORIAL: Choose to love it or leave it

Illustration by KAYLIE FOSTER | The Ranger

Freedom to love what you do drives attorneys to coach fencing, doctors to dabble in art and mechanics, teachers to be journalists and innovators to dream. Thank God that having a diploma doesn’t have to define the person you will be or the career you will love.

People who stretch themselves and do more than follow the career path expected of them are pioneers. They pave a path for those who come after them to follow.

Rock the boat a little. Try new things that use the skills you have been trained in to make your life and the lives of those around you better. One way to do that is to get involved in something you love.

Incorporate comedy into medicine or law. Make teaching fun and interesting. Look at what you are interested in and incorporate that into your work day. Life doesn’t have to be dull, stressful or loathsome.

Life can be enhanced by good interpersonal communication, writing technique, research experience and organizational skills. The ability to work in groups, leadership talents, basic computer skills and innovative thinking also are pluses. Joining organizations related to your area of interest is a great networking strategy that can enhance your understanding of and interactions within that field.

Develop yourself personally as well. Hone your weak talents until they become strengths. Be responsible. Learn empathy. Develop strong and stable responses until you can maintain a clear head in critical, stressful and emergency situations. It will make you more marketable, in higher demand and more confident in your own abilities. Remember, your job is an expression of the person you have chosen to be. Consider the possibilities.

Job skill sets are interchangeable. Experience gained in clubs, volunteering and work study programs provide marketable skills. Success is not measured by income alone. Yet parents, society and higher learning institutions often pressure individuals to pursue degrees in the fields with the highest grossing income, the largest demand for educated employees or the most marketable skills. Don’t cave in.

In Proverbs 22:7 it says, “The rich shall rule over the poor, and the borrower shall become the lender’s slave.” Going into debt to obtain a degree adds pressure to an already stressful experience. It steals some of the joy in your accomplishment and takes away your freedom to make certain choices until it has been repaid.

Weigh the cost of your degree against the earning potential of jobs in that field. If they are equitable, then consider the amount of stress, the time you must invest to get there and the number of years of internship needed once you graduate.

Most internships will give you great experience, but the pay is not great, and in some cases it is nonexistent. Sometimes it makes more sense to walk the road less traveled if it leads to a more peaceful and pleasurable lifestyle.

Although money can relieve some stressors, having a six-figure salary does not automatically equate to happiness. In the pursuit of riches, most people spend so much time, money and energy trying to make more money that they forget to actually enjoy what they are doing.

Having a degree in English or a foreign language doesn’t mean you have to teach in America. Foreign countries constantly are looking for English-speaking people to teach their citizens, because it is a highly marketable skill. Speaking languages fluently broadens the areas in which you can work significantly.

If teaching and travel don’t interest you, become a copy editor, translator, marketing representative or spokesperson for a publishing company, international business, news service or public relations firm. Your ability to read, write and edit opens doors in the creative, business and technical writing areas of business as well. Freelance work in your area of expertise also is an option.

Mass communication degree holders all can work for large, intercontinental corporations because their skill set includes the abilities to relate to people, sell an idea and persuade others to their point of view. Editing, proofreading, marketing, production processing, art, design, sales, research and promotional and publicity skills are vital to any business. Having technological savvy crosses over into other areas of commerce, including law.

Law degree holders can work in the court system, become consultants, work as legal counsel, write about legal issues, become lobbyists or go into politics. Depending on the area you study, the possibilities become even more specialized or diverse. The critical reasoning skills you acquire transfer to any field where logic and sound judgment are essential. Government agencies always are looking for people who can think on their feet, hold their own in a debate and have leadership abilities to fill higher-ranking positions.

People with science, technology, engineering and math degrees have opportunities to work with and inspire tomorrow’s leaders. STEM grants, scholarships and research programs are available that allow you to explore your degree in a variety of ways. STEM will be the spine that new developments in medicine, pharmacology and technology hang on.

There are few limits to what you can do. There still is much to be discovered through research and development. Things constantly are improving, so there always will be more you can learn, discover and teach to others. If the STEM studies are your passion, you never should get bored.

Art lovers, you will have a job as long as computer-generated graphics are in movies and advertising, museums and art galleries exist and the Internet continues to expand. Creativity and beauty inspire wealthy patrons to fund the arts. Societies need fine art instructors, art history teachers, musicians, media programmers and designers, video production crews, animators, illustrators, art therapists and comic strip creators.

Photography has become an essential part of life. It is used to chronicle personal, business and historical information. Textile companies need artists and designers to create new and exciting patterns and ideas. Auction houses need your expertise, and the retail world would be at a loss without your imagination.

Those obtaining general studies degrees have skills that are versatile and easily transferable from one field to another. Remember to set goals for yourself and seek experiences in areas that are relevant to what you wish to do. Research the areas you are interested in and seek job shadowing opportunities, internships or volunteer prospects.

Never settle for less than what you love, or you will begin to resent what you do. In the timeless words of Vanilla Ice, “Love it or leave it.”

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