PASSION VS CAREER
By Jasmine Leong, Executive Director of IEC
Inter Education Consult Sdn. Bhd.
Parents Avenue Magazine's Panel of Education Expert
Can these two ever be the same?
I pondered this as I watched good friend Nora, showing a little ballerina how to point her toes. Originally from West Malaysia but living in Sabah since she was 16 years of age, Nora is a Pharmacist by profession but recently took the step to get certified as an RAD (Royal Academy of Dance, UK) Ballet Teacher.
Only 1 of 2 certified RAD Ballet teachers in Sabah, she is now living her passion. A dancer herself who had always known that dance was her life, Nora teaches at IEC Dance Studio and since opening in April 2014, currently has 16 classes on-going which consist of Baby Ballet, RAD syllabus based Primary and Grades, Adult Ballet and private classes.
Then there is the famous and beautiful Hong Yi, our very own Sabahan who studied Architecture but has now taken the world by storm with her unique artwork; which started with a fun painting of Yao Ming using a basketball – what else?! – as a paint brush and had it posted on Youtube. She was discovered and since then, has used her Architectural skills learnt at University of Melbourne and her natural artistic talent to paint portraits of famous people with anything but a traditional paintbrush.
Her portrait of Jackie Chan using chopsticks, including acting with him in a short skit for her video, has catapulted her into super stardom status. She has since been invited to speak at Oxford University, TEDxKL, offered advertising contracts with HP and Nespray, Google, to mention a few.
There is also my childhood friend and competitive swimming compatriot Alex Lim Keng Liat, who received a sports scholarship to study Business at UC Berkeley, California. Though his time was spent mainly in the pool competing for the University and Malaysia (he is still a national record holder), he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Management.
Upon returning he returned to the pool not as a swimmer but a state coach for a number of years, giving back to the community that had opened so many doors for him; even successfully coaching another Sabahan to the Beijing Olympics 2008, Leung Chii Lin. Now he is a successful entrepreneur, involved in multi-level marketing and property investment. He still goes to the pool at times but is now a family man in his own right.
What do all of the above have in common?
Their university degrees have almost little or nothing to do with their current career. While they are all only in their current late 20s – early 30s, they have managed to find and match their passion with their current career. None of them regretted studying their chosen course at university and all said that they have gained skills which have led to their careers today. Pharmacist to ballet teacher; Architecture to Artist and Professional athlete to Property investor.
What am I trying to prove? That your degree does not equal your career.
Your interests and passions develop over time and what is more important when choosing your degree, is that you study something of your interest, whilst at the same time develop social and academic skills that will be transferable to whatever career you choose in the future.
So, how do you choose?
Here is a simple formula – Interest, Environment, Cost (IEC):
Choose a course that interest you. If you are still not sure what or where your interest lies, you can choose by process of elimination. There are typically 10 areas of study you can choose from:
1. HEALTH SCIENCES
(Medicine, Dentistry, Vet Science, Pharmacy, Medical Biosciences, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy etc.)
2. PHYSICAL SCIENCES
(Engineering, Geology, Archaeology, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science etc.)
3. BUILT ENVIRONMENT
(Architecture, Interior Design, Quantity Surveying, Landscape architecture, Urban planning etc.)
(Law, Education, Psychology, History, Literature, Linguistics, Sociology, Philosophy, Cultural Anthropology etc.)
(Accounting, Marketing, Management, Forensic Accounting, Finance, Banking, Investment Risk Management, International Business, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Tourism & Hotel Management etc.)
6. MASS COMMUNICATION
(Media, TV & Film Production, Public Relations, Advertising etc.)
7. ART & DESIGN
(Graphic Design, Multimedia Design, Fashion, Interior, Animation, Fine Arts, Fashion Marketing etc.)
8. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
(Computer Software, Programming, Nanotechnology, Games Technology, Mobile Technology, Forensic Computing, etc.) Yes, IT now has a faculty of its own and is one of the fastest growing schools as technology advances.
9. PERFORMING ARTS
(Music, Theatre, Dance, Visual Communication, Acting, Musical Theatre etc.)
10. PRACTICAL SKILLS COURSES
There are also courses which are more focused on practical skills and which are equally as important and professional. For example, Culinary Arts (Commercial Cookery or Patisserie), Hairdressing, Automotive Engineering, Aged Care, Dental Assistant to name a few.
This is something not a lot of students consider as they enter into tertiary education. The environment in which you are studying in is as much a part of the education you are receiving as the academic part.
Choose a university which will enable you to develop your people skills, social skills and life skills. Take a look at the student societies and support system that the university offers.
Employers in the 21st century are looking for well-rounded graduates, ones that do not just have his or her head in the books and achieved ‘A’s in their assignments, but one who can communicate, is self-disciplined, has a great attitude and a great outlook on life.
Finally, base your choice on your financial situation. Every student comes from a different background so before you decide which top league university you wish to study in, consider your finances. Who will be paying for your fees? Parents? Siblings? Will you be applying for a scholarship? And if that does not work out, what is your plan B?
What is important to remember is that a degree from a top university does not automatically guarantee success. Many factors come into play when seeking a job. A degree is merely a stepping stone towards the rest of your life. And like the examples at the beginning of this article, life can take some very intriguing turns as it unfolds. Is a degree essential for a head start? Maybe and maybe not.
We all know of success stories like Bill Gates and Michael Jackson who never finished a degree but achieved great ‘success’. I also have good friends who have not completed university degrees but started their own businesses by the time they were 19 years of age and are still successful now!
However, a university degree does offer you this: A time to play life whilst still in a safe and confined environment. It allows you the opportunity to grow in maturity, explore what your strengths are and practice ‘life’ before ‘real’ life begins after University!
So, Passion vs. Career? Definitely passion. For if you study something which you are passionate about, the career will emerge out of your passion. We at IEC can promise you that we will do all we can to guide you towards your desired goal. So explore the options, discover your passions and decide confidently!
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