Should I pursue my passion or go for the traditional careers?

Thursday February 13 2020

Q: Many years ago, high school students were being advised to disregard their passions and pursue careers such as medicine and engineering which were considered lucrative. With the shrinking job market and cut throat competition at the workplace, would you still advise form four leavers to do the same? I am asking this because it is still difficult to get parents to allow their children pursue certain careers.

Most parents want to live their dreams through their children. A parent who wanted to pursue law but failed to reach this goal might unconsciously push their child to pursue the same profession. I know of a case where a young lady was forced by her parents to pursue medicine. She enrolled for the course just to please her parents, and promptly handed over the degree certificate after she graduated. She then went on to pursue a course in cookery, because that is where her passion lay. Can you imagine the frustrations she endured while pursuing a course she hated, just to be at peace with her parents? The financial resources that have now gone to waste?

There are many dynamics – including technology – that have made the courses that were once perceived to be lucrative, to become less attractive. If you are looking for a career and not just a job, you should follow your passion. However, be realistic and pursue a career that is within your reach. For example, if you want to be a rally driver, make sure you have the resources necessary to train and become one.

Some of the courses that were once considered marketable are currently flooded, which makes it so difficult to secure employment. And even when you do get a job, the remuneration may not be so attractive because there is oversupply of labour in that particular profession.

Most parents will not have a problem if you approach them and explain how you plan to monetise your passion. However, there are many young people who hide behind their “passions” as a way of avoiding college or university. Whatever your passion, acquire basic education as this will expand your horizon and enable you to market your passion. Do not be under pressure to go to the university. Find out if you can get your preferred course from a tertiary institution. But as you do this, it is important to decide whether you want to be employed or self-employed at the end of it all.

Also, it pays to identify a mentor who will help you avoid some pitfalls and give you the advice you need as you go along.


Lastly, I take this opportunity to wish my readers a very happy Valentine’s Day!

Jane Muiruri - Senior HR Manager, Nation Media Group; [email protected]