Something fairly curious to me is how my (very established) professors always talk to me as if I already am a scholar, referring to what I do as “work” as in “he produces good original work” or “Amoz has a theory on …” It is an incredibly empowering feeling, even though I am aware that these two professors generally treat their students as people with important opinions. However, when I describe what I do as “work” to most other people, including students, there is often a bit of puzzlement that appears. Nevertheless, I do think of what I am doing as “work,” distinct from merely writing the term essay for a module. I have been aggressively reading what I think is important to the kind of scholarly output I want to do since my second year in uni, and as far as I can tell, my scholarly career began there. That I would spend my summer reading important works in IR theory and development studies and trying to place my own thoughts in the field, is merely an extension of what I’ve been doing in the last 4 years. I also think that having exactly this kind of attitude – one where I treat myself as having already begun on a scholarly career path – is something that exudes itself, and I suspect, interviewers just love this kind of confidence.

I think people might often assume that because I’ve “known” what I’ve wanted to do since entering uni and have taken very planned steps towards making it happen, then it follows that I think others ought to have done the same. To me, that is untrue on a number of counts:

1. I didn’t always know what I wanted to do. Even now, I am pursuing academia with an open mind. We don’t need to decide on “a life purpose” and assume that we will only do that our whole lives. We never quite know enough, opportunities always spring surprises, and people make career changes all the time- there is never a singular life purpose, but multiple life purposes which are ever changing in each time atep. Therefore, I for me, I only pursue tentative directions.

2. I don’t think one needs to even pursue tentative directions if they just want to live life without thinking of the future too much – a perfectly viable life philosophy, although not mine. In fact, by just doing things one likes, one may find a surprising number of ways those things could make you more employable than one would have thought.

3. However, I feel uncomfortable for those who hope to just work hard during their university time and then be presented with a menu of careers to choose from – like applying to post-O-level schools. Maybe someday, someone will find a way to summarise the vastness of career possibilities, but until then, knowing what kind of jobs are out there is not going to be served on a silver platter. Besides, aren’t some of the coolest jobs the type that can’t be so easily fitted into some menu? I don’t think this means that everyone should go and find out what kind of jobs are out there. However, I do think that a lot of people would want to, except that they don’t realize that finding a job/career isn’t like applying to a JC.


~ by moz on May 29, 2014.

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