Too many 'unsuitable careers' in the market

Back then, the career options were few - medicine, engineering, law, banking or teaching.
Our youngest is just about to choose subjects that she will be examined in for her secondary school qualification.

 As we sat down last weekend to discuss the available options, the hubby and I let her express herself regarding her likes and dislikes regarding the subjects she is doing currently, and I couldn’t help but marvel at how much things have changed. How different from the time when I was in the same position many years ago!

Back then, the career options were few - medicine, engineering, law, banking or teaching.

Accordingly, we slotted ourselves into the subjects that would position us for one or the other when the time came. Back then, there was little or no discussion about what we fancied, and careers in fashion, beauty, air travel, music and the like were never on the table for discussion.

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So we usually ended up doing what we were told to do. Having said that, I was relieved to finally drop science subjects, specifically chemistry and physics, which were more like torture sessions to me. I could never make sense of even the simplest formulas and when it came time to say goodbye, I never looked back.

CSI mania

Unfortunately, biology was compulsory, as was math, much to my dismay. My older sister is the scientist in the larger family – she sees life in straight, logical lines (preferably in black and white).

She loves watching TV crime series - so she can use her well-honed powers of deduction to name the criminals long before they are nabbed by the TV cops who, by the way, always manage to wrap things up in about 40 minutes – which is how long the shows last.

I’ve heard that when CSI first came out, the number of school students who wanted to study forensics rose sharply, no doubt taken in by the fancy technology used to catch thugs in the time it takes to shoot one episode. In real life, detective work takes hours of painstaking, sometimes boring legwork, often without the benefit of technology. No wonder some crimes take years to solve.

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Unlike my sibling, I see life in multi-coloured circles and flowers, and prefer quirky detective series like Monk or The Mentalist.

Our youngest definitely takes after me because she very quickly discounted the science subjects from her list of possibles. And although math is compulsory, the grades she’s been bringing home at the end of the term confirm which side she is NOT leaning towards.

Her view of life is way more colourful than mine – she’s into fashion, make-up and art. I keep telling our young ones how fortunate they are to be growing up in a time when the career space has opened up so much that they can do literally anything.

First Kenyan deejay

Every so often, when we’re talking about careers in today’s world, I like to ask them to imagine the very first young person in this country who sat his parents down for a solemn conversation about his future – and announced gently that he wanted to be a deejay.

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I imagine his mother holding her head and wailing while wondering aloud where she went wrong, and his father standing up and, before marching away, saying dramatically: “No son of mine will ever be a deejay. Over my dead body!”

Eventually, after much cajoling from a young, modern aunt (Dad’s beloved younger sister) and perhaps the boy’s older sibling (the one who toed the line and became a lawyer/doctor/architect as expected), the parents started to thaw and two-and-a-half years later, finally, reluctantly, caved in.

 And when the money from the deejaying endeavours started to flow in, the parents’ wide grins completely belied the resistance they put up when they first heard the word “deejay” leave their son’s mouth.

That young man, I tell our three, is responsible for opening the way for all the other young people who have since followed him into hitherto “unsuitable” careers. And following last weekend’s discussion with our youngest, I can only say the hubby and I have been warned.

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