First, meet my brother-in-law, Bill. He claims to have the best job in the world.
Isn’t it refreshing to hear someone declare, in all sincerity, that he loves his work? I think so!
But I know Bill’s not the only person who thinks he has the best job in the world.
I follow the blogs and Twitter streams of several hundred passionate scientists, doctors, PhD candidates, teachers, writers, artists and authors. And I can tell, just by listening to them, reading their blogs, that most of them truly love what they do. Oh sure, it’s not all sunshine and ponies, but for the most part, these people are excited get up and go to work in the morning. They too are living their dream jobs.
It seems to me, that if we want more people interested in science, art, writing, education, and medicine we need to let young people know that there are some careers in this world where TGIF is not the highlight of the week; where weekends blend happily with weekdays; where cubicles give way to field stations, laboratories, studios or home offices; where minds are challenged every day; where the reward is in the doing; and where standing around the water cooler complaining about boredom and drudgery is for other people.
So, here’s my challenge: Bill says he has the best job in the world. I want you to tell everyone why YOU have the best job in the world. Let’s show the young people of the world what great careers are all about!
I’ll go first —
I am a writer of science and natural history. I have the best job in the world because I work for myself, I set my own hours, and I work from home. But mostly I have the best job in the world because I get to research and write about all of the fascinating topics that catch my interest.
Science writing allows me to sample all the disciplines of the natural sciences. It has opened the door for me to topics I never knew existed (or cared about) when I was in school. Who knew I’d develop a fascination with fungus, would find a link between an invincible microscopic animal and feminist literature, or that I would trace the trail of fossil human footprints around the world? Not I. Nor did I know that a story about wolf, told by a tour bus operator in Alaska, would turn into my first published piece. That’s why I have the best job in the world.
Hands down, my job’s the best. Unfortunately, most people view my job as hell on earth. Purgatory. The seventh circle of hell. Fodder for Dante’s most vivid nightmares.
I teach Latin, English and writing to middle school students.
I get to be the one to introduce them to Frost, to Yeats, to Shakespeare, to Ovid. To the magical trajectory of our language from Latin to French to Old English to Middle English, to their common parlance. I get to show them that the words they use to describe their 21st century world were once used to describe squires and Roman infantry formations and legends surrounding kingfisher nests. I get to be there to hug them when their families fall apart, to cheer them on when they remember their lines, and edit their graduation essays.
To top it all off, I get to use that day job to fuel my other job – my writing. I get paid to discover the stories that feed my creative life, and I can’t imagine any life more perfect than that.
As an artist, I have fulfilled my profession in the world.
And don’t let me fool you… as of now, I hardly sell any of my art. As an artist, I don’t sit around and paint all day and sell my work for a lot of money. I have a job as a bartender that pays for all of my paints, canvases and brushes. I don’t make a lot of money.
So what has made me a professional artist since the age of 18, if I hardly even sell any art?
I turned professional artist when I was 18, because I made a declaration, a vow, to do art until the day I die. My declaration wasn’t something I said outloud or wrote down.. its something I felt.
Don’t ever forget that your profession does not have to earn you income. A profession is your sacred place, your mission in life: the thing you compromise for no one. If your passion is volunteer work, but you earn money by working at starbucks.. When people ask what you do… Tell them your profession “volunteer work.” not your job… “starbucks.” What you profess is what defines you (e.g. profession)…. People dont care to know the way in which you earn money. The world wants to know what defines you.
So as a young student ask yourself, “What defines me?”
To answer that question, the best place to start is.. “What is my favorite thing in the world to do?”
Step 1: Find your feeling.
Step 2: Share it with the world.
Lead from Within,
My best job: I’m retired.
Which means I have the freedom to write (ten books since I retired).
At the same time, I also teach on line writing to about 50-60 students — continuing my before-retirement (“real”) job: as teacher and administrator in a community college.
Hours? I set ’em. Breaks? When I want them — with one exception: when the resident quilter decides to garden and points, I dig as though commanded.
But Bill’s job sounds awesome; Jess, too.
OK I’ll have a go. I am a professor who does research on how locomotion has evolved in various groups of land animals, and how big animals handle being big. Basic and applied research at a lovely veterinary college set in the countryside just outside London, UK.
I get to work with amazingly cool animals ranging from elephants (I’ve personally gotten to know >100 individuals around the world), rhinos, crocodiles, ostriches, and much more. I get to study stunning fossils like T. rex and other dinosaurs or some of the first land animals such as Ichthyostega. I get to do visually impressive and scientifically robust computer modelling and simulation of gait, along with experimental analyses. I have a freezer full of awesome (but dead) animals (whatsinjohnsfreezer.com blog). I’ve shown how T. rex was not a fast runner and elephants have a false sixth toe, among many other things.
I get to travel the world talking about all this work, and have a great team of hugely talented and clever undergrads, PhDs, postdocs and techs working with me in a world class lab of experts. I am very lucky to work with such fabulous people (who I do my best to help find jobs for once they finish, and have had good success doing so) and do a lot of collaborations outside our lab, too. Our work gets a lot of positive media attention and is well known in multiple fields worldwide.
No one tells me what to do, my college is extremely supportive of me, I make my own schedule and get paid pretty well, with great job security and loads of opportunity for creativity, critical thinking and satisfaction at many levels. Did I mention the cuddly animals? I can hardly imagine a better job for me anywhere. It’s a blast!