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Career Opportunities

Had a friendly meeting a few days ago with a young person debating their future career path. They had a very good IT-orientated resume (give this person a job, seriously) but were debating whether they should go down the path of a Business Analyst. It was fairly clear that they lived and breathed IT, whereas the BA choice was one of some indifference. In reverse, there was a situation when VPAC had a year of summer school graduates where it became quickly obvious that none of them had any passion for IT. They'd been told (probably by their parents) it was a well-paying job and were now in a career path that they wouldn't enjoy.

I don't like the idea of anyone being miserable at work, but I certainly don't buy into the voluntaristic idea of "do what you love". This is nonsense: Whilst engaging in the idle dream of being paid for activities that a person is passionate about, there is still rent to be paid, food that needs to be on the table, clothes on their back. It is terrible advice, forgetting a fundamental rule of capitalism the recipient of wage is paid by the owners of capital, and the worker have to do what the owner (or manager, by proxy) wants in order to receive that wage.

They offered me the office, offered me the shop
They said I'd better take anything they'd got
Do you wanna make tea at the BBC?
Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?

- Career Opportunities, The Clash

(For what it's worth, even under a socialistic system where capital ownership is more evenly distributed, if work needs to be done, it will still be based on social, rather than individual, desires - but that discussion is for another day - as a hint however, it involves something similar Hannah Arendt's trajectory from labor, to work, to action.)

The Japanese concept of Ikigai, similar to the French raison d'être is more convincing than the "do what you love/love what you do" mantra - and it has an interesting connection with mortality. It is certainly more complex, drawing an intersection between inner motivations, comparative competence, personal welfare, and social requirements. It also suggests a degree of continual development and reassessment. But this more complex process in itself is valuable, providing more than a profession, or vocation, or passion, or mission - but rather, all of these things, as a purpose.