I don't give a lot of advice. I mean, if you read this blog, you know my life is one disaster after another. I have a couple bits of advice I hand out to my Sunday School kids, although none of them have ever actually taken my advice. Maybe someday they will. Believe me, the few bits of advice I do hand out are solid, proven bits of wisdom. Here's the list:
1) Everyone learn to play the tuba. Colleges always need a tuba player.
2) Ladies, date low brass players. They try harder than trumpet players do.
3) Ladies, learn to love football.
4) Gentlemen, yes, there are differences between all the pairs of black shoes your lady owns. Learn what they are.
That's it. Or so it has been it for the longest time. But now, as I watch another newly minted class of high school graduates dip a toe into the "real world" (and if you're going to a four year college, no, that's not the real world. The real world doesn't come with a meal plan or a class schedule you can ignore half the time.) and I feel I have to share a bit more advice.
So I'm writing this letter, and this is for anyone who is starting out in life and isn't quite sure which way to go.
Dear High School Graduate:
Congrats, you've completed high school.. You've survived the bullying, name calling, cliques, break ups, and horrors of high school and you are now not only an adult, according to the state, but now it's time to make a decision. What are you going to do for the rest of your life?
Most of you are 17 or 18 and I know when I was that age I did NOT want the focus of my professional life to be jobs in which the biggest two skills I needed was the ability to type and a working knowledge of the alphabet. I wanted to be a radio DJ (Yep, did demo tapes on my parents stereo, which had a microphone. I was awesome, reading dedications, breaking news, playing all the summer hits from back in the day. Those tapes still exist. And anyone who cares to clean my basement may have them.) I wanted to be a paramedic. I wanted to be a rock star, a best selling novelist, a movie critic, and an Olympic gymnast.
So of course I went to school to become a teacher. And I got the teaching degree. I taught. Then I worked in an office where all they cared about was that I could type and I knew the alphabet. Then I had babies. Then I figured out that my magical power was my phone voice and since then I've worked, for the last ten years one way or another, on the phone bending people's will to my own. And then I learned Quick books.
I am an author, you can check out proof of that by clicking here or by clicking here or by clicking here or even by clicking here. But other than that, I'm none of the above things I honestly believed I would be. Life sort of decided for me. And the funnier thing is I spent four years learning to be a teacher and I taught for one and since then I've held jobs that honestly did not require more skill than to be able to type, know the alphabet, and talk on the phone. It taken me several years since high school, but I finally landed a job doing something that wasn't even a thing when I was in high school. I didn't know it then, but this is my dream job (you know besides being a DJ, a rock star, a movie critic or a world famous best selling author).
So, new grads, what are you going to do with the rest of your life? People want to know NOW!
If you're already enrolled in college and you've got a scholarship and you're going to study hard math and science and become a doctor or an engineer, then okay, I'm not talking to you.
I'm talking to the other 98% of you out there.
I'm an employment analyst. I spend my work day calling all over the country to find out who is hiring, what they're paying, and what skills they want. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about when I say if you have a high school diploma or a GED, congrats, you're already ahead of the game.
If you don't have these things, get them. There aren't that many jobs out there for people who don't have that minimum piece of paper. Sure, you might find a job and it might pay well. But what if you get hurt, have to move, or that company goes out of business? And there you sit, no education, no job, and no way to get a job because you don't have that piece of paper.
Now, for those of you who have a high school diploma, but don't care to go on to college, never fear, there are plenty of places all over that will hire you and you can make good money doing these jobs.
Most of them are in food service or manual labor of some kind and all of them require good physical condition. But if you're willing to put in the hard work and the long hours, you can make a nice living.
If you want a little more of a guarantee of good money no matter where you live and no matter what the economy is, then here is my big giant piece of advice: Go to your local tech school. Train to be in the trades: Carpentry, plumbing, electricity, car repair (Mechanic and body tech), sheet metal worker, and welder. These are skills that don't take eons of time or money to get, but once you have them you can continue to build on your skill, thereby building on your value in the job market. Yeah, the work is physical, and yeah, you're going to work long hours, but the payoff and job stability is awesome.
Don't believe me? Close your eyes and picture a world without plumbers. Computers haven't figured out a way yet to unclog a drain system that has been taken over by tree roots....or toys your baby thought would look funny being flushed down. Yes, and that is why, children, you pay the plumber $200 for a service call after 5 Pm because you can't live without the toilet and he's the only one willing to get that village of Fisher Price guys out of your pipes.
By now I'm hoping most of you are gone off to find a job or to get enrolled at your local tech college. But I'm sure there are still a few of you waiting for me to tell you that the magic to life involves winning a lottery ticket.
I'm not going to tell you that. If it did, do you think I'd be blogging at my desk right now? No. I'd be sipping something blue and alcoholic and blue (I love those blue drinks) and being fanned by a very fit young man named...I don't eve care what his name is. He's going to be tall, he's going to be tanned, and he's going to have that perfect mix of a swimmers/gymnast's body. And he's going to be able to get sand out of my laptop because once I'm settled on my private beach located on my private island I won't be moving until I have the next book done.
But life isn't like that. So for the rest of you still waiting for me to give you the great advice, you've missed it. I already did. And you ignored it because you want to go to college and major in something other than teaching or science or engineering or doctoring.
So for you I'm going to now tell you some of the things employers, you know the people who pay you money to do things at their businesses, are NOT looking for. College is expensive...do NOT waste your parents' money and your time on the following courses, (These are real courses taught at real colleges and parents if your kid is taking one of these, then you would be better served actually burning the stacks of cash you're using to pay for his/her education) because employers are not going to care. They are going to mock you for taking these classes when you could have been learning welding, or math, or anything else.
|Study me, learn me, LIVE ME!|
What's the final? Twerking while singing the "Hannah Montana" theme song?
2) How to watch Television.
(I've know how to do this since I was five and I've logged so many hours I probably have a PhD in it, but seriously...someone's taking money to teach this class. And people are paying for it.)
3) Zombies in popular media.
I know. The zombies are coming and we should know how to fight them. But this isn't a fighting class. This is a bunch of kids sitting under a tree with the world's biggest "Walking Dead" fan.
4) What if Harry Potter is real?
Let's go to the source. Hey, J.K., is Harry Potter real? No? You made him up?
5) How Does it feel to dance?
You don't need a college class for this. Just go to a couple weddings this summer and ask people of varying shapes, ages and sizes. The fat guy in his 50's is going to say he needs a drink. The five year old girl in the flower girl dress is going to yell, "GOOD!" throw up on your shoes because she drank too much free soda at the reception , and then go dance more.
6) Learning from YouTube.
It's true. My husband uses YouTube like his own personal technical school. Gotta tie a bow tie? YouTube. Gotta give an IV to a cat? YouTube. But see, he does that, and he doesn't pay $400 a credit to do it.
Okay, hey anyone can have a no brainer class, and it's fine. But how about, if one of you takes your parents' $160K for a four year degree and really blows it on something stupid that is never going to translate into any sort of student loan repayment ability?
These are real majors, people graduate with degrees in this stuff all the time, but I'm here to tell you that in this world in this economy...in any economy, these are degrees that, at best, will land you a job that starts at $9 an hour for 20 hours a week. Basically, when the zombies come, the people who have these degrees are going to be the first eaten. Maybe even before me.
1) Art history.
I love art history. I love art. I love history. But a full on degree in art history so I can be the only one at my job who can tell the difference between a Monet and a Manet (and I can thanks to one semester of art history, not a whole degree.) There are no jobs for this. You want to study art and art history? It's called a library. There are a million books on art there and it's free.
So many jokes have been made about this I don't have to add to them. Stop skipping class and take some business courses. Learn Quick books.
I love a good debate. I can start one in my living room with my family with no more than these four words: Trump might be okay.
My husband and I have an ongoing philosophical debate about whether or not trees communicate with each other. Thanks to JRR Tolkien, I'm winning that debate.
My point is, the people who are hiring right now are not hiring people who had discuss whether or not we are all made of color or if a butterfly poops on a tree in Bolivia, does it rain in the Hamptons? You want to read the great philosophers? You want to discuss philosophy with someone else? Great, fine. Again, library. Free. Won't cost a thing, no student loans to pay back while you're making a living cashiering at the local mini mart (they are always hiring and the wages for those jobs are going up.)
Ultimately, you're going to do what you're going to do. We all have a romantic streak. We all want to write poetry and live in Paris and sip coffee an debate (in French, Russian, or Italian) pretty much everything. And why not, when you're not yet 25? It seems perfectly reasonable to believe you can live in a 700 square foot flat in Rome with three roommates and a cat you've named Kierkegaard, but ball Kirk because it's easier and you like Star Trek.
Listen to Auntie Sarah.
You can't do that. By the time you get out of college you want to be a grown up, or very close to it. You'll want your own place, your own bathroom. You're going to want clothes that aren't t-shirts you won at some eating contest. You are going to need a job. That pays money.
And guess what? A degree in Russian Poetry or French history is not going to help you unless you live in Russia and they are hiring poets (I don't think they are) or you live in France and they need another historian (and I doubt they're going to hire an American to fill that job.)
Love art, love poetry, love history? GO TO THE LIBRARY.
Oh, and don't get a degree in creative writing. You can't teach creativity and if you want to write you're going to write you don't need a piece of paper to tell you to write.
Now if you want to be a writer, and an author, or a poet, it's good idea to take classes, take publishing classes, take grammar classes. Look for these at local tech schools, at your local park and rec department, or in the phone book. You're going to find a writers' group or studio where you can write and learn about writing without using your uber expensive college time to do it.
Of course, if Bernie Sanders gets elected, then hey, study want you want to in free college.
Learn to type. Learn the alphabet. Learn to put a sentence together.
Oh yeah, and learn Quick books.
Now, if after all this you realize you're not ready to decide your whole life just yet, that's fine. There's no rush. The state may say you're an adult, but we parents know you're just a kid and kids probably shouldn't be making decisions like what career they're going to have for the next 50 years. Take some time. Work for a while. Serve in the military. Go abroad, see how other countries, other cultures, live. Build a well someplace that needs good water...like my old hometown of Flint, Michigan.
Just don't get a degree in the Societal Effects of The Hunger Games on Emerging African Economies and then wonder why no one will hire you.
All my love,