Don’t File Those Interests Away

by Emily Jasper on July 20, 2010

I love art, food, dance, and theater. That range of interests doesn’t seem to open many professional doors. Or so I thought.

Back in high school, I took the core classes (math, science, English, and history) through senior year. After adding my language classes, I put art and journalism on top of those. I had a pretty full schedule.

A number of my friends dropped anything that wasn’t a requirement, from languages to arts. The reason? They figured no one got jobs in those fields, so why waste the time?

Unfortunately, there are a number of people out there who consider those interests “extracurriculars.” It’s the same kind of argument you hear when arts funding gets cut in schools. There is this belief that learning to paint isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Then we get to college, and you can major in pretty much anything. The downside here is that many students work hard to major in those “extracurricular” subjects thinking: I know I’ll never get a job with this major, but I still love this subject.

It is all a myth. You can get jobs using arts skills or exploring your interests. Career centers and guidance counselors just don’t tell you this, and it’s probably because you need to be a little creative to dispel the myth.

If you love food, your career options aren’t limited restaurant chef or line cook. In fact, you never need to go to culinary school to still have a job where you can be passionate about food. There are entire tv channels dedicated to food and cooking, countless reality tv cooking competitions, and there are always spots on morning shows with a chef doing a demonstration. Producers research for those spots, someone arranges the talent, others shoot the shows. Entire teams work with food, and none ever need to pick up an oven mitt. And those examples are just in tv…

Everyday, the demand for graphic designers keeps asking for more creative individuals who have a wide spectrum of capabilities. Having an eye for sculpture could allow an advertising agency to tap into your talent creating a leading marketing campaign for the new shape of Coke bottle. Do you read that disclaimer at the bottom of the AT&T Rethink Possible commercials about Christo and Jeanne-Claude? Those are amazing environmental instillation artists, and while they may not be associated with AT&T, it doesn’t mean you couldn’t be.

You could work for a dance nonprofit like the Dizzy Feet Foundation, be the corporate philanthropy manager for a Fortune 500 and host events at the opera, or you could build education programs to make sure these “extracurriculars” are never removed from schools.

If you think outside the cubicle box, you’ll find there are thousands of opportunities to work with your passions. Paint, cook, dance, write, compose, and whatever else makes your heart fill with passion, and you’ll find ways that those passions can be turned into a dream career.

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