Tuesday, 26 July 2011


“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” - Betty Bender

I have been attending Career Adviser Seminars for the better part of today and will do so for most of tomorrow. It’s been quite an interesting experience talking directly to career advisers from high schools and giving them a good background in what courses are available for students at our College. There are career advisers from a very broad range of secondary school represented and there are also a very large number of exhibitors from various colleges, government organisations and universities. The main purpose of events such as these is to inform and update the counsellors in secondary schools who must have a good broad knowledge of the careers available to students and the courses that exist and are able to get the students into jobs that interest them and inspire them.

It is extremely important for everyone to choose a job that interests them. We spend so much of our life working that unless we work at something that is interesting, fulfilling, engaging and satisfying, we can quickly become miserable. It is usually the people who hate their job that produce the worst quality work and have the highest rates of absenteeism and sick leave. It is also these people that will tend to move around from job to job with great frequency, or even end up as chronically unemployed and unemployable.

I have always enjoyed my work and I believe someone gives their best performance at work if they are genuinely interested in what they are doing. This leads to engagement and a natural tendency for one to strive and excel in what they do day after day. I have certainly looked forward to getting to work every morning and no matter how full or how busy my workday is, at its end I can honestly say that I have enjoyed it, even though I may be tired. Sure enough there may be one or two unpleasant instances and incidents here and there, every now and then, but that is part and parcel of life, not just work.

Students that are beginning their studies at tertiary level nowadays are widely different to students when I was at University. We are finding more and more that we need to educate in a way that we produce graduates who are flexible, adaptable and able to keep up with the changing times. Graduates need to respond to the evolving demands of the workplace; people who can respond in the changing world quickly. Special, specialised and flexible workers who can bring a sense of curiosity, understanding, knowledge, experience, compassion and joyfulness to the work that they do. This is only possible when someone does what they love and they love what they do.

This is extremely important in a world which is becoming smaller and where globalisation is breaking down barriers, allowing people to not only move around and work on one continent today, another continent tomorrow; but also allows people to work remotely. Outsourcing and employing people that work on the other side of the world is something that is commonplace now and it appears that no industry is immune from this. We are able to automate more work with computers and software and to transmit that work anywhere in the world so that it can be done more efficiently or cheaply thanks to the technology. The smaller the world gets, the more essential it is for people to do what they love, because more and more jobs are going to be automated or outsourced in this brave new world.

One of the skills that I want our graduating students to have mastered is having learned how to learn. That will be really important if they want to be effective in the workplace as jobs will change faster and faster in the globalised world. The best way to learn how to learn is to love learning. Students remember their favourite teachers at University although they may not remember much anymore of what they taught. They remember the teachers because they certainly remember enjoying learning from them. Students appreciate how these special teachers taught, because what they did was to equip students with the ability to be a life-long learner who are enabled to adapt and stay special or specialised in a changing world.

There is great responsibility in being an educator. Teachers have the ability to reshape, influence, impact and control their students. They can guide, inspire, transform and shape the lives of their charges. On the negative side, educators can also brainwash, intimidate, prejudice and pressure students. As a teacher, one must remain objective, fair, transparent and helpful, while allowing the student to grow and explore and learn under their own personal conditions and desiderata. Learning to learn and loving what they learn is the best way to achieve a good education, and consequently, a satisfying career.


  1. Nicholas I like what you say here, but my own experience has been that however much I've loved my work or been committed to it, workplaces I've been in have often been rife with politics, overbearing management, inhumane cost-cutting, inflated ambition, meaningless jargon and double standards. That might be why I've been unemployed for 12 months...

  2. I agree, Nicholas. I love my job and would not work in a place or an industry where I would not enjoy what I do. When things change, I resign and move on, as I have done just recently!

  3. Good career advice is essential to have when students are making choices of what to study or train in. I wish I had better advice like that when in school.....

  4. I agree with your comments about the responsibility that teachers have. The best teachers I had were impartial mentors, along with a very good Auto Industry recruiter. They all put their own biases aside and genuinely helped me assess my own career needs.