It’s Okay To Be An Art Major!

    June 5, 2003

Parents want to see their children embarked on successful careers. It’s hard to keep quiet when your child chooses a wildly impractical field of study, fails a course or takes a year off with uncertain plans.

Yesterday’s rules for success no longer work. Children need new guidelines to face tomorrow’s career options.

1. Focus on flexibility, not security. Today’s companies do not promise to “take care of” their employees. People need to take care of themselves. :”I can cope with whatever happens” is a stronger statement than, “I’ll find a career that will give me security.”

Even the most secure job — a tenured professor or professional firm partner — can be threatened by economic conditions or simply a shake-up in policy. You may keep your job, but you’ll be miserable.

2. Learn to learn. Whatever your child learns in school will be obsolete ten years after graduation. Learning is a lifelong process. Learn to learn.

3. Grades will be less important than self-confidence and social skills.

You need grades to enter a professional school and occasionally (very rarely!) for a first job. Once you have a boss or a client, your ability to build relationships, network and take on new challenges will move you ahead.

4. Choose an undergraduate major based on interest and passion — not “what will get you a job.”

If you want to be a CPA, you need accounting. If you enter medical school, you need science courses. However, people who opt for those careers after college can usually take the courses in a year or two — and they’re motivated.

Most graduate schools and jobs are available to bright, motivated, socially skilled people of any major. Claudia Kennedy, first woman promoted to three-star general of the US Army, majored in philosophy. Michael Lewis, financial writer and best-selling author, majored in art history.

5. Few mistakes are fatal.

Failed a course? Been rejected by a job or a college? Most of us can’t avoid an occasional failure, but we can learn bounce-back attitudes as soon as we can talk.

Yolanda Griffith, WNBA basketball star, dropped out of a premier program due to pregnancy. She returned to a different college program, baby in tow, and now plays for the Sacramento Monarchs.

6. Learn to feel like a winner. Do something that will bring success: sports, singing, acting — anything. If you try out or audition and win, you’ll get an experience that nobody can take away from you.

7. Learn to enjoy the unexpected. We’re now learning that much of career success comes from chance, luck and serendipity — not linear planning.

We all know frustrated doctors and lawyers. And I know at least one graphic designer, whose parents tried to talk her out of art school. Despite the economy, she continues to earn more than her MBA-equipped husband in his conventional, linear corporate career.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and career/business consultant. Your Next Move Ezine: Read one each week and watch your choices grow!