Choosing an Alternative Career as a Full-Time Profession

Posted on March 19, 2012 in Alternative Careers

By Porisma Pompi:

Alternative careers have become a trend amongst the youth in today’s age. The increasing chaos and disturbances in our society and its disparities, and even the uncertain economic surges have made us feel attracted towards less-explored and unconventional careers like Social entrepreneurship and Journalism of the alternative forms. Some of us may even be interested to take them up as full-time professional careers and become change-makers in such fields. Also, the community has felt the need for confident and assertive young people who can raise their voices, reach out to people and increase awareness among the people regarding various social issues and concerns. However, how many of us can actually choose ‘to be different’ without disheartening our parents or falling victim to their endless questions? The moment you tell them that you want to be a social worker and the society needs you, the first thing they’ll ask you is “Why you (amongst so many others)?’’

There is no doubt regarding the fact that our parents still want us to choose professions or careers that can afford us a secured future, and the professions they desire ‘the most’ for us are that of doctors, engineers, businesspersons or even IAS officers. Choosing to be a photographer or a journalist, a cartoonist or a social worker isn’t really easy, in the sense that in the first place, it comes as horrifying news to our parents, and eventually we have a rough time trying to convince them. We end up either pursuing our professions without their consent, or have to dump our passions just to comply with what their idea of a “career” or “profession” is. However, in case the former happens, most of our parents (though not all of them) gradually broaden their thoughts and opinions, and allow us to commence with alternate careers. Even so, there are many cases where the youth are not permitted by their “conservative” parents, to select a vocation that does not provide their children with a guaranteed income.

This can be best illustrated by an incident. A friend of mine, who wanted to be a wedding planner, is now pursuing engineering under the pressures of his parents under the argument that if he doesn’t make his career in the next few years, getting him married would be a difficult, almost impossible task. ‘What’s the use of becoming a wedding planner if your own wedding is being put at stake?’ they said.

To elaborate on my argument, I would like to relate an incident that I encountered myself. The other day, when I was out on a walk with my father, we met a friend of his. He asked me about my present area of study, and what my future plans were. I replied that I was in the last year of my graduation in Economics, and that I was planning to study journalism and take it up as a future career option. Upon hearing that, he shook his head in disagreement and said with the utmost confidence — “Journalism is not… a good line.”

I believe that my father, whom I already had a tough time convincing for letting me do a course in journalism, was in for a surprise when he looked at me and raised his eyebrows in a gesture which meant, “See? I had warned you!”

The person, who happened to be the Director of his own private business corporation, continued —
“Journalism is nothing! Especially, it is not for girls, you know. Running from here and there, collecting news and all… it has nothing productive in it. If you want to do something good, do an MBA. Get into finance and marketing…”

On hearing that, I felt the need to speak up. I just said, “Uncle, I want to take up journalism as a career and specialize in the field of print journalism because I have a passion for it. What favour shall I do to myself by appearing in CAT and pursuing MBA when I don’t have the slightest interest in doing so?”

I don’t know whether he understood my point or not, but I’m pretty sure he mustn’t have, because he still didn’t consider my choice as worthy of his approval. Instead, he started to lecture my father about how the mindsets of today’s generation have gone awry, how all that they want is fame and glory, how they do not care about their parents’ expectations and many such other things, which, I suppose, ultimately had no effect on my father (and I’m very thankful for that!). I was happy to find out that my convincing had had a better effect on my father, because he hasn’t ever asked me to change my preference even after “The Conversation”.

It is entirely true that alternative passions can be carried out even while pursuing a full-time profession. Maybe that is why some professions, such as writing, singing, painting, or even politics, are regarded as ‘alternative’ professions. The list of doctors who are freelance writers (e.g. Deepak Chopra – Indian/American writer of self-help and health books) or even singers (e.g. the lead singer of the ‘Euphoria band, Dr.Palash Sen) or politicians (e.g. Late Bidhan Chandra Roy, physician and Indian politician) is endless. It is a similar trend in the case of other people who actually, though they pursue a different profession too, are famous for their alternate profession as well. In fact, there are examples of many multi-talented professionals who have not just one, but multiple alternate professions. Analysing all such facts, the only question that remains unanswered in my mind is that “Will it prove foolish on my part to take up an alternative career as a full-time profession? “How fruitful will it be to become ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’-as they call it?”