• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Follow your dream

Advice for graduating college seniors: If you decide what you love to do, instead of looking for the most monetarily rewarding "career path," you'll never work a day in your life:

But here's a secret: You do not have to hate your first job. In fact, you can fall in love with it — if you do what Tester did. Rather than obsess about the font on her résumé, she asked herself two little questions: What do I love so much I'd do it for free, and how can I get someone to pay me to do that?

Find the answers to these questions, young graduate. And you will never "work" again.

This year's entry-level job market is even hotter than the overall economy. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that recruiters plan to hire 17.4% more grads from the 2007 class than the '06 class.

Just because you're likely to get a job, though, doesn't mean you're going to like it. A recent Conference Board survey found that fewer than 39% of workers younger than 25 are even "satisfied" with their jobs, the lowest level in the survey's 20-year history. A 2005 poll from Maritz,  a research firm, found that only 10% of Americans strongly agreed that they look forward to going to work every day. A January CareerBuilder.com survey found that 84% of workers aren't in their "dream jobs."

Fair enough. We all like to complain. But CareerBuilder.com dug a little deeper and asked people to think about what their dream jobs would look like. They found out, as Vice President Richard Castellini noted in the poll's news release, that these jobs were "surprisingly reminiscent of childhood wishes for many workers." I don't find this surprising at all. For most of us, when we were little, there was something we loved so much we spent hours focused on it. Tester surfed. I scribbled stories in my school notebooks. Maybe for you joy came from something like "building sand castles." This is the answer to the first question: "What do you love so much you'd do it for free?"

Unfortunately, as we grow up, we see these affections as impractical. We don't think there's an answer to the question: "How do I get someone to pay me to do that?"

People who experience career bliss, though, never lose faith on question No. 2. Fortunately for them, it turns out that this modern, wired economy has room for all sorts of livelihoods.

My job has had its ups and downs, and lord knows it hasn't made me rich, but I can't imagine having done anything else. I never wanted to do anything but write, and even as a kid I couldn't keep from shooting my mouth off. I am doing what I would have done anyway, and I have managed to find people willing to pay me for doing it.

One of my favorite books, which I may have mentiond here before, is the slim "A Mathematician's Apology" by G.H. Hardy, not so much for his elegant descriptions of the beauty of math as for his thoughts on choosing a life's work. Just two things: It should be somehow useful to humankind in the grand scheme of things, and it should be the one thing you can do best. Not what you can do better than someone else; there will always be people who do it better and those who do it worse. What you do best. What if that's not also what you love to do? But it will be. What you do best you will learn to do better and better.

On the other hand, I have this theory. If a man's job werre, every day, to spend $1 million before lunch, then fly to a different beautiful place every day and have dinner in the best restaurant there, then end each day by making love to a different sexy woman, he would eventually get to the point where he got up in the morning and thought, "Oh, man, I wish I didn't have to go to work today."