How Being Open-Minded Help Me Find My Career Path

by Maecy Bischoff                                                                                                                 

In denying ourselves the chance to see a situation from different perspectives, we rob ourselves of many wonderful opportunities. By choosing to not consider all possible outcomes of that situation, we may choose a direction that actually limits us rather than allows us to flourish. Had I not realized this when I did, I may not have the career path that I now have set out for myself.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

From the time we enter kindergarten, we are asked what we want to be when we grow up. How are college students expected to know for sure what they want to do with the rest of their lives, let alone five-year-olds? They do not always know for certain, as the future is completely unpredictable. However, there is a good place for them to begin, and that is with listing their dream professions and analyzing them in every way possible.

I recently participated in a similar process in my English class at Elon University that was truly eye-opening. It is because of this analysis that I have a much better understanding of where I want to end up and what I have to do to get there. In order to thoroughly execute each part of the process, we completed it in parts. We started with determining exactly what kind of job we were interested in working. Next, we found a job advertisement that closely matched that occupation, which was followed by a career profile analysis. We finished by interviewing an individual who holds our desired job title.

Sometimes the unexpected happens…

To begin our search for our dream jobs, we first had to find a job ad that most closely resembled the profession of our choosing. My dream job is to perform for as many people in as many places in the world as I can. Although, when I searched for job ads for “singers/entertainers,” there was not much to run with. I then took a step back, reevaluated, and considered something that I would normally never allow to cross my mind: teaching.

Since the moment I discovered music as a passion of mine, I have always known that I do not want to teach it. To me, music is something that simply cannot be taught. It is not a step-by-step process in my opinion. You must have some sort of talent to build on. So, as I began my reluctant search for vocal teaching positions, you can imagine my surprise at how rewarding the profession sounded. The job advertisement that I had chosen was offering a teaching position in a highly reputable music school. They stated that their teachers work to “develop students” and to “prepare them for performances at school and around the community.” This is something that intrigued me. I did not realize just how much I desired to give young students with a passion for music the same nurturing in their musical growth that I received. That is something that my interview participant, Doctor Polly Cornelius, mentioned as being one of the most rewarding parts of her job. She loves to see her students grow and develop.

What would be asked of me…

In order to even be considered for a position in this profession, you will most likely need at least a bachelor’s degree or more, depending on the level of teaching. Through researching this job, I found that the salary can be as high as $170,000 and as low as about $39,000, the median being around $78,000 per year. In my interview with Dr. Cornelius, I had the opportunity to ask her about the benefits that come will her occupation. She told me that she is provided with health insurance and a retirement fund.

As my class is a writing course, we of course would like to know exactly what kind of writing, if any, our desired professions perform on a regular basis. Along with educated guesses and some research, we had the opportunity to ask some primary sources. Amongst all three of these sources, I found that the most common types of writing within this job position to be emailing with students or colleagues, or scholarly writing such as citations and letters of recommendation. Dr. Cornelius states that she writes emails everyday to handle small conflict and coordinate schedules. This can also be supported by the Elon Poll, which surveyed college graduates. It shows evidence that more than 70% of the surveyed students use email weekly in their after-college lives. She also has students who have graduated and still seek her help and support in applying for jobs.

While discovering the types of writing that our interview subjects perform was interesting, we were also eager to know the struggles they faced in completing them. Dr. Cornelius did not seem to have much trouble with the genre of writing, but more so the tone in which she had to write. In addressing conflict, she must be careful to use a respectful and professional tone so as to not dig the issue deeper. This is a common problem in writing that is often forgotten. I believe this issue would fall within the Elon Poll’s category of “Adapting to my readers’ expectations and needs,” under which 16% of the surveyed individuals fell.


Break it down into parts!

Through completing each part of this analysis, I learned something different from all of them. In choosing my job, I learned to remain open-minded because, without that mindset, I would have never even considered teaching music. After analyzing my job ad, I realized that there is often great pay that comes with teaching music, as well as achievable academic requirements. In analyzing my career, I read about the skills I would need to succeed as a music teacher. The interview segment is where I understood the necessary level of commitment for music teachers toward, not only their craft, but their students.

You may be surprised…

I was extremely discouraged when I did not find many job ads requesting singers or entertainers. Had I not kept an open mind, I would not have considered music teaching nor would I have discovered all the wonderful things that come along with it. By not limiting my path to one way, I suddenly saw many roads I could turn down. So, as the old saying states, “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.”


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This post is part of a series on writing in the professions. Posts were written by students in Dr. Jessie L. Moore’s fall 2019 Writing: Argument & Inquiry class and include research from the June 2019 Center for Engaged Learning/Elon Poll survey of college graduates, age 18-34, High Impact Undergraduate Experiences and How They Matter Now.

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