Recently, I had a great career conversation with a university graduate who has just finished a degree in music. Sam’s passion and talent for music is undoubted and throughout his years as a student he has established some excellent contacts in the industry. Although he gets regular gigs, this experience is unlikely to lead to a well-established career, unless he moves to a major capital city, extends his networks a lot further and is very active in trying to source the scarce work that is available. Sam is not sure that this is the right thing to do because it is at odds with some of the things he values most, such as buying a house, staying close to family, and securing a steady job. This young man finds himself at a significant decision point in his career, and to help him through this he has turned to the question of what really interests him.

In conversation, it turns out that Sam has had a long-standing interest in psychology – he remembers liking it at school, enjoyed an elective he did at university and has spoken to a couple of consulting psychologists who work with elite performers, including musicians. He is feeling very drawn to take on a further qualification in psychology (despite the cost) and continue to perform his music at the same time.

Success

In the back of his mind Sam remembers people warning him about taking a music degree: ‘there are no jobs; it’s a waste of money; you’ll fall behind everyone else”. But, in no way does he regret studying music – it was absolutely the right choice to make at the time. Importantly, he acknowledges the amazing quality of the technical musical skills he now has together with more broadly based transferable skills such as research, writing, presentation and performance skills; as well as communication, teamwork and negotiation skills he has developed in negotiating terms and conditions with event and venue managers- for example.

In a world where we can expect to change jobs multiple times; and where we need to continually up-skill, re-skill, and shift perspectives; careers will always go in unexpected directions. What is important in navigating these twists and turns is that, like Sam, you follow your interests and passions; honour your values and priorities; be clear about the skills and talents you have to offer; and get excited about what you want to learn next.

Do you have a story to tell about an unexpected twist or turn to you career? I would love to hear it!

Until next time … go well!

Carole