Thursday, October 6, 2011

Career Paths

My father started working for Ontario Hydro as a lineman when he was 18 years old, and retired after about 40 years. He made good money, for a high school dropout. And he provided his family of four children with a sufficient, if not ample income. I don’t know about the early years of his career, but for the last 25 years or so, he hated every day of his work.

That is a decision all young people need to make. There are jobs that will pay you a lot of money, provide a good pension and a stable cash flow. They may or may not stimulate you intellectually, and you may wind up hating the job, but have to keep doing it in order to feed your family and/or buy your expensive toys.

Then there are other jobs, where working is fun. They may not pay as well, but you will have a variety of experiences and actually enjoy going to week every day. Digital Photography falls into this category.
You almost certainly will not come out of any Photography program and land a big, well-paying job. We will teach you the basics of the field, but experience is only gained one way, through sweat equity. You will probably run through a few low paying jobs before you make your break. I spoke to a Georgian College photography grad last year, and he was working for a film production company. As a “gopher” ... they guy who goes for coffee, who goes for supplies, who builds sets and does whatever work they want and need on the production sets.

He told me his bosses have had other photography grads attempt the job, but they were put off because it is menial work that seems beneath someone who had just finished two years of expensive schooling. But this lad is smart, and knows that this job is just the first step on what may be a long string of jobs that he has. He is keeping his eyes open, and watching what others do. Some day one of the other staff at the company will be sick, and he will fill in on their job, and prove he can do it. That is how one moves up. I suspect that in two years he will have a decent paying job for this company, or another one in filmmaking.

The point is that he has chosen a career where he is having fun. Even as a gopher, he is learning and growing, and every day is different with different challenges and different rewards. Like most jobs at the start of a photography career it is low paying, but exciting. It will lead him to new levels and someday he will be making decent money. But he will never have a boring job.

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