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David Schultz, AIA, NCARB, LEED is the principal architect at David F. Schultz Associates Ltd. in Barrington, IL. David F. Schultz Associates was founded in 1986 and specializes in the design of churches, preschools, parochial schools and other facilities for church-based ministries. David’s firm has designed more than 372 facilities over the past 26 years.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an architect. I constantly played with blocks, made huge towns out of them that would wind throughout our house. I built tree houses in my backyard. Some kids got into trouble for chewing gum or passing notes during class – I got into trouble for sketching buildings in my notebooks when I should have been paying attention to the teacher. I still have a notebook of “gravity-defying” buildings I designed in 4th and 5th grade.
I’m grateful my parents encouraged my interest in architecture. They had hoped I would become a Pastor, but they never pushed that on me– to the contrary, they encouraged my interest in architecture. In fact, throughout high school my standing request for a Christmas present was subscriptions to the two major architectural publications, and my parents honored that request every year. My dad was also very interested in buildings, so he and I would explore buildings together when we took family vacations.
Ever since I was a kid, I have always been intrigued by buildings. I love to explore them, and I love to design them. On some level, I have always been architect.
At the time I went to college (in the mid-1970s), I was told that just under one third of the licensed architects in the country were graduates of the University of Illinois. Those numbers have changed dramatically since then, as more and more universities started offering architecture degrees, but when I went to school, Illinois was one of the primary places that did. My dad is a Michigan alum, so I know he was disappointed I didn’t go to Michigan. At least I stayed stay in the Big Ten!
What is unique about going to college for Architecture? What should a prospective student expect?
Know what you are getting yourself into! Architecture is a grueling college curriculum. I had 20 hours per week of required design lab each semester for which I only got 3 academic credits. It’s not that the curriculum is that much more difficult than, say, accounting; it is just very time intensive, and that rigor weeds out who really wants to be an architect and who does not.
My freshman class started with over 320 architecture students – we graduated 87. I think that kind of attrition is not something most students expect. This weeding out process was intended to prepare us for the real world. Clients are very demanding, and if you are going to be a successful architect, you had better be prepared to deliver results on time and design buildings that won’t fall down.
That’s pretty much the first rule of architecture: Build things that won’t fall down.
What is the job market today for architects?
There are more options available today, but the job market is just as tough now as it was when I got out of school in the late-1970s. Back then the economy was really bad as a result of the oil embargo. I got a job out of school because I knew a guy who knew a guy. The guy I knew liked me a lot and helped me get my foot in the door with the guy he knew who happened to need people to do some drafting.
Of course, I walked in on my first day thinking I was God’s gift to architecture. Within 10 minutes I realized I wasn’t and that my education in the real world was just starting. I was really fortunate; many of my fellow graduates were not as lucky to get jobs.
The job market is similar today. Given the current economic conditions, particularly here in Illinois, very few firms are hiring at any significant levels. It’s tough right now. But as I said, there are a lot more options for new graduates today; particularly for those folks with computer and construction industry skills. New graduates with current technology skills are needed; particularly in larger firms.
The entry-level architects who have internship experience under their belt have a great advantage over those who don’t.
What courses did you take in college that didn’t seem to make sense at the time but have proven valuable?
Let’s see – I took 3 hours of microbiology and 3 hours of astronomy, and I haven’t used any of it.
However my math classes, particularly, calculus and advanced calculus, have been invaluable, even though at the time I didn’t want to take them because they were hard. They really help me understand how things work and understand things from a structural engineer’s perspective. I’m a design guy and being able to understand things from the structural engineer’s perspective is critically important. So, definitely my math classes.
Also, general history and the humanities. I took classes in Greek and Mesopotamian Literature and Mythology. I really enjoyed these classes, but didn’t think they would be that valuable. More recently I have become an avid student of American history. Architecture and history go hand in hand, and a lot of modern architecture has its roots in the structures of ancient Greece and Mesopotamia.
So, along with math – history and the humanities!
Is a graduate degree required to become an architect?
There is a lot of confusion around that question. When I was in school, you could get a 4-year degree, and with three years of experience you could get licensed. Now, you have to get a 5-year professional degree, and a 6-year degree is considered a graduate degree. You are going to have trouble getting licensed in some states if you don’t have a graduate degree, so a graduate degree is almost a given – you have to have it if you are going to pursue the career.
It is required to get an NCARB Certificate in order to be licensed in multiple states, and to maintain your license you have to do annual professional development
I started my career doing drafting for a tiny firm in the suburbs. It certainly wasn’t glamorous, but the guy I worked for really taught me how a building comes together. I learned a lot, but it wasn’t fancy.
My long term goal was to design churches, and the premiere architectural firm doing that kind of work was in Rockford, Illinois (another suburb of Chicago); but they weren’t hiring.
I remember going into my office to announce that my wife and I were expecting our first child. My announcement was greeted with a lay-off notice! Not the response I was expecting, of course, but a major project had just been completed, and they didn’t have any work. As a result, all of us got laid off.
I must have reached out to 80 firms throughout the Chicago-land area via phone, postal mail or foot, including that firm I really wanted to work for. As it turned out, they were looking to open a small Chicago office with two people, and they were interested in me and one of my classmates from Illinois to be that two-person team. That is when my career really took off. I had a design job with an architectural firm specializing in churches, I was working with a former classmate, and I was making enough money to support my wife and growing family. It was a real blessing.
After establishing my reputation with that firm, I decided to strike out on my own and in 1986 started my own company. 26 years and 372 projects later, here I am! And, I still love it.
What don’t you love about your job?
Government mandated paperwork! I spend so much time filling out government forms and paying fees and taxes I never used to have to. It is getting harder and harder to be a small business person.
Here’s an example: The building code used nationally used to be about 180 pages long. Nowadays, the building code fills 12 volumes, 300 pages each, and some parts of the code contradict others. The whole code review process has become really cumbersome.
Dealing with late payments is not much fun either. They are rare, but they happen occasionally and when they do, the client meetings are usually uncomfortable. This is stuff they don’t teach you in architecture school.
What advice do you have for students considering an architecture degree?
Work really hard in school – particularly in the area of design – and get a mentor. Your mentor will fill in the gaps in your education for you.
Find an architect you admire and ask them to be your mentor. Trust me, they like mentoring. I regularly mentor students at Judson University and I love seeing their passion and creativity. Mentoring gives me great hope for our future!
If you really love architecture – pursue it. If you don’t have that passion for architecture, the program will weed you out!
I wouldn’t change anything.
Recognize that you don’t know everything and that you will be learning as you go. You will make mistakes.
There are times you will be right, but that won’t matter. What matters more is doing the right thing by your clients.
In Illinois, there is lawsuit every two years for every licensed architect. With myself and two other licensed architects on staff in my firm, I should be facing a lawsuit every year.
I am proud to say that in 26 years – I have never been sued; I’ve never had to set foot in a courtroom!
I recall a meeting with a prospective client who asked “Have you ever had anything go wrong on a project?” I had to laugh as I suggested an alternative question to her: “How do you handle the inevitable problems that come up during a project?”
Know this – you will encounter problems during your career, everyone does. How you handle the problems (and opportunities) you face will reveal your character and define your career and reputation.
I graduated 1993 with a BS in Dietetics and became a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). I worked in the clinical field for several years before transitioning into a Diabetes Medical Sales position, which I have held for 14+ years. Unfortunately, medical sales jobs in this field are slowly going away, and I have let my RD and CDE expire, so I am trying to decide what career path to take next!
With a BS in Dietetics, 5+ years of clinical nutrition experience, and 14+ years successful medical sales . . . do I need to start over completely and look for a new adventure in job market? Do I need to go back to school? Are there other opportunities out there for people with my background and experience?
With over 20 years until retirement…I am looking for a career that is going to last long term and pay the bills, and one that I will continue to enjoy!
What do you suggest I do?
First, I commend you for looking at this so proactively. Many people see changes taking place in their industries but wait until change occurs before taking any action. You are showing great wisdom by trying to stay ahead of the curve. Now, on to your questions. I’ll start with your three priorities:
. . . a career that is going to last long term and pay the bills, and one that I will continue to enjoy!
Stability, Financial Viability and Satisfaction are your three priorities, so being clear in how you define each of these is really important.
Stability: I want a long-term solution, not a short-term one!
Job security is an interesting concept these days. Many folk, including me, cite US Labor Department data to support the premise that the average individual will have 9-15 different jobs and work in 3-5 career areas over the course of their careers. If you look at your own career path thus far, you appear to be reinforcing that premise as well. I share this only to make sure you know that there are no guarantees of long-term employment. Stabiliy and job security come through your own career management and your ability to personally manage the ebb and flow of the economy and the job market.
When I think “stability,” I think in terms of market demand: What are the growth markets and what is driving that growth?
Healthcare is widely identified as a growing market; a market where there will be jobs. Why? We have an aging population increasingly in need of healthcare, so we will need a lot of people providing, direct care and services, and resources to those providing direct care and services.
Information Technology (computer systems) is the central nervous system of just about everything everyone does, so the need for skilled professionals in and around information technology continues to increase.
These are just two examples of how the market is driving need. Here is a chart from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics with some addition information the the employment outlook in different industries.
When you look at possible next steps, be sure to take market demand into account. If stability is a priority, the last thing you want to do is consider career paths that are by nature unstable (e.g., entertainment and the arts) or those in industries that are in decline.
Financial Viability: I want to be able to pay my bills!
Knowing that you make enough money to pay your bills requires that you know – concretely – how much you need to make to make ends meet.
Yes, I know that sounds pretty simple and straightforward, but must people do not know (or want to know?) the extent to which their income is in line with their spending habits. College students, by and large, do not know, and many working adults are no better.
You don’t want to get excited about a potential job that will not pay you enough to pay your bills/meet your obligations. And, you want to make sure that the kinds of jobs you are seeking and careers you are considering offer sufficient compensation.
Some really and fun jobs don’t pay very well, and some really lousy jobs pay exceedingly well. Why? Supply and demand. Again, the market prevails.
As you research your options, be sure to factor in potential compensation in terms meaningful to your specific situation.
Satisfaction: I want to like the job!
Job Satisfaction – everyone wants it; very few can define it!
What about work makes you happy? If you want to find a job you will like, you need to spend some time looking at the jobs you have done to identify precisely what it was that you liked about those jobs.
By the way, this is really hard to do.
What aspects of the work itself did you enjoy most?
In what types of work environments have you done your best work/felt the most satisfaction?
What did you dislike?
What types of work interest you most?
What types of work do you want to avoid?
What industries interest you most?
What industries/subjects do you know the most about?
The better you understand (and can articulate) your work, work environment, work style and personal likes and dislikes, the better able you will be to identify these characteristics in potential jobs, employers, workplaces and industries. If you want a job you like, you have to be able to identify what you like an dislike.
An “I’ll know it when I see it” strategy will not be effective, and “that perfect job” is a rare find. Every job is bound to have some aspects you don’t like, so be reasonable and realistic in your quest for a job you will like.
Do you need to to start over completely and look for a new adventure in job market?
Not necessarily! Before you choose to head in a completely different direction, be sure to consider all options you have in, around and related to your existing profession and industry. If you good at sales and you enjoy sales, you might look at other sales/sales-related jobs. If you enjoy working in the healthcare industry, you might look at other healthcare and medical industry related jobs (sales or otherwise).
Do an inventory of all the people with whom you interact in your current role. What do they do? Does any of it look appealing to you. Before you decide to start over completely, make sure you’re not missing something that might be right under your nose.
Do I need to go back to school?
Not necessarily! More educated does not necessarily mean more qualified. If – as you explore your career options – you identify a field that requires specific educational credentials (a specific degree or certification), and that field will meet your criteria for stability, compensation and job satisfaction, then consider going back to school to earn those credentials.
Too many people jump back into school without thinking about what they will do when they graduate. Going back to school will require a significant investment of your time, money and energy, so proceed carefully.
Some career paths require specific academic credentials – many more do not. Before you go back to school, make sure you need to do so. Otherwise, you may find yourself no better off than before you went back to school.
Are there other opportunities out there for people with my background and experience?
There are always a variety of opportunities to consider! They key is sifting through the volume of total opportunities that exist to fine those best suited to you, your needs and your objectives; it’s kind of like panning for gold.
A career transition is a process, not a transaction. It take time. Begin by building and leveraging your professional network of contacts. Use who you know and what you know to explore where you might go and what you might do. Then, explore those options that seem most promising and apply for the positions that develop through this process of exploration.
There is no single strategy or recipe that will work for everyone, so don’t frustrate yourself looking for that “magic bullet” that will guarantee your desired outcome.
There are four resources I often recommend to people in career transition:
Hope this information and my recommendations help!
How will you finish that sentence this year?
The end of the world predicted by the Mayans did not occur :-), so as 2012 starts to appear in the rear-view mirror and 2013 rises on the horizon, my thoughts are turning to resolutions. Why do we make them? Why don’t we keep them? The new year presents the opportunity for new beginnings, and new beginnings – big and small – are important for helping us move forward in our personal and professional lives.
So – as you ponder your possible new year’s resolutions, consider building them around your answers to the following questions:
What will I do in 2013 to grow professionally?
We all have jobs. Whether you are a manager, a line employee, a stay-at-home parent or a student, you have work to do. Do it well. Take pride in your efforts. Seek out ways to enhance your skills and abilities. Whatever you do – you can always find ways to do it more effectively. If you’re not moving forward, you are – by default – moving backward. This is a choice you make. No one else can make this choice for you. Whatever you do – don’t be satisfied with the status quo in 2013.
What will I do in 2013 to grow personally?
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. We all have skills, abilities, interests and relationships that are not part of our work lives. Don’t neglect yours. Balance your efforts to grow professionally with your efforts to grow personally. Invest more time to your family. Invest more time in your hobbies. Life is not all about work unless you choose to make life all about work. If you want to grow personally, you must be intentional about it. The easiest person to neglect is you. Don’t make that mistake in 2013.
What will I do in 2013 to nourish my body?
Eat better. Eat less. Eat more. Exercise. Exercise more frequently. Exercise differently. Get more sleep. Get an annual physical. Do what your doctor suggests. Pay attention the signals your body sends you. If you don’t put gas in your car, it won’t run; and if you don’t do the routine maintenance, your car will break down. The same goes for your body. As a chief offender in this area, I can attest that we can all do a better job of nourishing our bodies. Let 2013 be the start of something good for your body.
What will I do in 2013 to nourish my soul?
Just as you need to nourish your body, you need to nourish your soul. I am a Christian, so be fair warned, my approach to soul-nourishment is decidedly Christ-focused. Spend more time in fellowship, worship and prayer. If you are feeling distant from God, you probably aren’t spending much time talking to Him. Pray and study the Scriptures daily, and God will nourish your soul. Skeptical? See, it isn’t possible to nourish your soul with materials things; to nourish your soul you have to turn to things spiritual. However you choose to do so, feed your soul in 2013.
What will I do in 2013 to help others?
Helping others is a great way to develop yourself professionally and personally. It can be a means to nourishing your body and your soul, too. Be intentional in your efforts to help others – to put the needs of others before your own – and you will be amazed at how much better you will feel inside and out. What will you do in 2013 to help others?
How will I make difference in 2013?
You exist for a reason. You are not here by chance or mistake. Your job is to seek this purpose and to work toward it. When you do what you were placed on this earth to do, you will make a difference. It make not be a difference that shows upon in the news or gets recorded in history books, but it will be a difference that impacts the lives of the people in your life. Be intentional about how you will make a difference in 2013. What you do does matter!
Looking toward 2013 . . .
. . . I will strive to grow professionally and personally. I will try to be more consistent and persistent in my efforts to nourish my body and soul. And, I will work to lead through my service to others. How about you?
So – when December 31, 2013 rolls around, how will you know whether or not you actually made a difference?
Trust me – you’ll know!
For a girl with no luck, I’ve managed to be married to the greatest guy since 1990, have two “nearly perfect” kids, AND have the good fortune to work from home in dual careers as a Virtual Assistant and an Artist.
Renee’s life and career are testimony to the fact that many people do not pursue predictable, traditional linear career paths; rather they find ways to thrive professionally and personally while successfully negotiating the often competing priorities of work life and home life.
The Coach: So, you have two jobs. Tell me precisely what you do.
Renee: Actually, I guess I have four jobs.
First, I am a virtual personal assistant. I provide administrative and marketing support to managers and executives from around the country who do not “office” in traditional workspaces. They work out of virtual offices, so they have a virtual assistant (me!) helping them get their work done; everything from making travel arrangements and scheduling and preparing for meetings and presentations, to managing the daily appointments and drafting correspondence and marketing documents. I do all the stuff a traditional on-site executive assistant does; I just do it from my home office.
In my second job, I am an artist. I work in clay, crafting pieces that I sell online via eBay and Etsy.
Job #3: I am a professional caregiver to a woman suffering from ALS. I assist with massages, provide some companionship, and generally make her life a bit more comfortable.
Lastly, I’m a mom. I have two sons, both in high school right now, and being mom takes up a good bit of time as well.
And yes, I love it! I guess I should say I love them! Each little piece fulfills a section of my life.
Being able to stay home with my kids is very important to both me and my husband, and I get to do that. The virtual assistant job is great because it allows me a lot of flexibility to manage my own schedule and uses skills I started developing early in my career. My art work lets me make some money from my passion (I always wanted to be an artist!); and my work as an ALS patient caregiver feeds my soul and allows me to fill an important role in the life of someone in need.
Oh yeah, and I love my “couch commute,” too. Not much traffic getting from my kitchen to my office.
The Coach: Okay – so now we’re up to four jobs. How did that happen? Was this your plan?
Renee: Well, yes and no! After college, I worked in traditional settings, such as hospitals, private doctor practices and pharmaceutical offices. And then in the mid-1990s came birth of our first son, Erich, which turned out to be the perfect time for me to try something new, something that would allow me to stay at home as we started our family. We did “plan” my move from a traditional office job to working from home, but it was far from certain.
Telecommuting was just really starting to take off, when I started in pharmaceutical transcription, moving into the role of pharmaceutical marketing assistant. Soon after, the pharmaceutical industry went through a lot of change (like a lot of industries do), so I figured I had better change as well. I began offering up my services as a virtual personal assistant to some of the executives I knew who had become telecommuters. Some good referrals helped me grow my business. When you go into business for yourself, you can never be sure how things will turn out. For me, they turned out well.
The Coach: What about the other jobs; the art work and caregiver jobs?
Renee: I’ve had a passion for art since I was a kid. An artist is what I wanted to be when I grew up; an artist and an opera singer. In school I studied voice and art, but not to the point where I thought I could have a career in either. I honed my craft over the years as a passionate hobby. Recently I began showing some of my clay work, and I have developed quite a little following in the Shabby Chic world. My business is called CreatingCottage, and I promote and sell my work online via my website, blog, Facebook page, and on Ebay and Etsy.com.
I also still sing, by the way. Not in Operas, but with the Pennsbury Community Chorus!
As a caregiver, a family member suffered from and eventually lost her battle with ALS. I had the chance to assist her as she fought the disease and realized just how important a role caregivers play in the lives of people battling disease. That experience made me want to continue providing caregiver support. I am a big supporter of the ALS Association and its efforts to find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The Coach: That’s a lot to juggle. How do you manage your time and your various responsibilities?
Renee: Time management and prioritization are really important. Some weeks these jobs require 40+ hours of my time, some weeks as little as 10 hours. It just depends on the week. Regardless, you have to make the most of your time. My kids are older now, so it has become a little easier, but when you work from home, everything has the potential to interfere with you getting your work done; a sick kid, house guests, household chores – everything! You have to be really disciplined and, sometimes, ready to go to work after everyone else has gone to bed. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
The Coach: What has surprised you most about the career path you have chosen?
Renee: I’ve been surprised that I have been able to keep the virtual assistant business going for so long and that I have been able to grow it. When the pharmaceutical industry took a downturn I expected my business to do the same, but it didn’t. And, the competition for work has increased. I still depend a lot on referrals for new business, but I have also registered with AssistantMatch, a company that connects mobile executives with virtual assistants.
There are websites you can use to bid for work, but you are often competing with off-shore service providers that come in with really low bids. Financially, I can’t compete with those bids, so I really have to depend on my reputation and service, so – ultimately – on my referrals.
In the virtual assistant world, you always have to deliver, and you can’t promise things you cannot deliver. You can’t pass the buck to anybody else, because there isn’t anybody else. It’s all you.
The Coach: It can’t all be a bed of roses. What aspects of your job do you “not love” so much?
Renee: As a virtual personal assistant I am not a big fan of nighttime requests, since they conflict with my family time, but sometimes they’re just unavoidable, even with good planning. There definitely are some days when you feel like you’re on call 24/7 and don’t get it close shop like in more traditional positions. That part isn’t much fun, but it also isn’t an everyday thing.
As an artist: I was very hesitant about presenting myself through the sale of my artwork. Honestly, I’m not really great with rejection. Who likes to be told no? But I have to tell you, I get really excited every time I make a sale and meet a new fan of Shabby Chic decor.
Overall, there isn’t a lot of certainty or predictability to my income. What I make depends primarily upon how much artwork I sell and how much my clients ask of me each week. The work is often full-time, but the money is sometimes “part-time.” My husband has a regular, full-time job with benefits. His job makes my jobs possible. We know we can depend on the stability of his income. Any time you are in business for yourself, the amount of money you make depends entirely upon you – that can be scary. I don’t love that part of my jobs.
The Coach: Looking back at your undergraduate classes, how relevant are they to what you are doing today?
Renee: To be completely honest, there isn’t a lot of direct connection between what I studied and what I am doing now. (I’m not sure you’re going to want to include that quote, but it’s true!)
The Coach: Okay, so what classes have been most valuable to you in your current job(s)?
Renee: My English writing courses. They certainly were not my favorite classes, but I am glad I took them. I have to use my writing skills as a virtual personal assistant every day. Writing and editing skills have been really important throughout my career, and I didn’t necessarily expect that!
The Coach: So you work for yourself. What does it cost to get started? What does it cost you to be in business?
Renee: The start-up costs are really low. To be a virtual personal assistant, you just need to have the computer hardware and software, internet connectivity, communication devices and office equipment required to provide support, and you can set up a website for free. If you’re setting up a home office from scratch, you can probably do that for under $2,000. After that, it is monthly internet and phone charges, office supplies and marketing expenses; probably about $200 a month, tops!
To be an artist – that will depend upon your medium and the cost of the materials you use. You’ll also have to budget some time and money for marketing and sales because no one will buy your art if they don’t know it’s available for purchase. Whether you are going to craft shows or selling on eBay or Etsy, you have to build in time for sales and marketing.
The Coach: Look down the road 5-10 years. What will be the market for what you do in the future?
Renee: Honestly I see the market for virtual personal assistants growing quite a bit. More and more people are moving toward mobile offices, so more and more people will also be turning to mobile and virtual staff support. The need will grow, but so will the competition!
For my artwork – sites like eBay and Etsy make selling direct to consumers a lot easier, so the opportunity to make money from my artwork has the potential to increase.
For caregiver services – with an aging population and dispersed families, the need for caregiver services is certainly bound to grow.
The Coach: Any parting advice for students currently going to college?
Renee: Learn how to manage your time and your priorities. Do your homework, go to class, study hard, and when that’s done, go ahead and play. You have to make time for play, and it’s ok to play hard as long as you don’t get work and play confused and let your work suffer. Keeping your priorities straight is a major lesson that John and I have stressed with both boys.
We have all heard the old saying:
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Steve Jobs once said:
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
And then there is my personal favorite (and motto):
Most people respond to sentiments like these with a similar, and somewhat skeptical, response:
That’s a heck of a lot easier said than done, you know!
And they are right! Finding a job you love – getting paid to do something you love – is not easy, but it is a worthwhile pursuit, and that is why we post “I Love My Job” interviews on TheCampusCareerCoach.com, along with other information like Six Lessons You Can Learn from Reality TV About Doing What You Love.
We conduct “I Love My Job” interviews with people in every variety of professions who simply love what they do for a living. Our goal is to understand why these jobs are so intoxicating to these people and help job seekers understand how they too can learn how to find a job they will love.
Do you love your job or know someone who does? Would you like to be interviewed and featured on this blog? Send me an email, and we can see what we might be able coordinate.
No, not the Survivor, Big Brother, Bachelor/Bachelorette kind of mind-numbing Reality TV shows that defy rational explanation. I mean shows like Deadliest Catch, Swamp People, Dirty Jobs, Ice Road Truckers, and other reality-based programs the feature real-life people doing what they love and working in environments they find rewarding.
Reality TV is important because it teaches some really important lessons about our pursuit of careers that will make us happy! And, that’s what it’s all about, right? Do what you love and you’ll never “work” a day in your life, as the saying goes.
Think about it, have you seen a Reality TV program about careers that features people who really hate their jobs? Nope! Who would want to watch a show, week after week, that focused on real-life people who hate their real-life jobs? The successful shows all feature people who really enjoy what they do for a living. They are not perfect people and their jobs are not perfect, but they are doing what they believe they were born to do. When you are lucky enough to have a job that allows you to do what you believe were born to do, everything else seems to work itself out; just not always easily or in the way you expect.
Six Career Lessons Reality TV Programs Teach About Doing What You Love
1. Doing what you love is rewarding
Driving a truck across Alaska, fishing for Opilio crab in the Bering Sea, or hunting alligators may not be glamorous, but they can be very rewarding if you find that kind of work satisfying. When choosing a career path, choose something you will find rewarding. If you do what you love, chances are good that you will find that work rewarding.
2. Doing what you love isn’t easy
Have you ever had a rewarding job that was easy? I know I haven’t. Hauling crab pots for hours on end; navigating an 18-wheeler loaded with cargo on ice in subzero temperatures and blinding snow storms; and piloting a boat in the Louisiana swamps ain’t easy. It is tiring work, both mentally and physically. But, if you love the work, it’s worth the effort. If you are looking for a job and your #1 goal is “it has to be easy,” you’re not looking for a rewarding job, you’re looking for a paycheck. Don’t confuse the two, because if you really want to do what you love – chances are it won’t be easy.
3. Doing what you love requires sacrifice
Time, money, family, health – any of these might be sacrificed when you do what you love. Crab fishermen are away from their families for months at a time and put their lives and health at risk just doing their jobs; ice road truckers lead a pretty solitary existence on the road; and you are probably never going to get exceptionally wealthy as an alligator hunter. Life is full of trade-offs, whether you are pursuing an extreme career or not. Doing what you love will inevitably require some sacrifice on your part. When you have to decide what sacrifices you are going to make for your career, make sure you know what you are doing!
4. Doing what you love involves conflict
The crews of the Northwestern, the Time Bandit and the Wizard (all crab boats) don’t always get along with each other or with other crews. Captain Keith of the Wizard has a temper. Junior and Tommy (a father & step-son alligator hunting team) disagree about how to do their jobs. Hugh and Rick (two drivers on Alaska’s ice road) have a fierce rivalry. You cannot escape conflict – whether you are doing what you love or not. Doing what you love will not free you from conflict in your job.
5. Doing what you love may not be conventional
These reality shows are a testament to the fact that not all jobs are conventional or traditional – not everyone goes to work in an office at 8 am and goes home at 5 pm, Monday thru Friday. There are many different ways to make a living; there are many, many options. If you doing what you love is important to you, you might find yourself doing something you never expected – and there is nothing wrong with that. Look at Dirty Jobs. Did you know that people make their living as sea sponge divers, camel ranchers, surfboard makers and forensic entomologists? Neither did I, but just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid or valuable career path for someone. Doing what you love means you may not pursue a conventional career path – and that’s okay!
6. Doing what you love builds confidence
Why do so many people submit their jobs to “Dirty Jobs” to get on the show? Why are crab fishermen, truck drivers and alligator hunters willing to allow camera crews to invade their workplaces and share their lives and stories with the world? It’s not because they are perfect (they certainly are not) and it’s not just to get their 15 minutes of fame. It’s because they are terribly proud of what they do! Proud enough to put it on display for all the viewing public to see; warts, beauty marks and all! Do what you love and you will be proud of what you do, and pride builds confidence!
See, Reality TV shows do serve a purpose (or maybe I have just found a way to rationalize the time I spend watching them).
You be the judge. Do what you love and see if I’m wrong or right!
Now, excuse me please – I have a Deadliest Catch marathon to watch!