Over the course of my life, I’ve been given a lot of good advice and a lot of really, really bad advice. I could share some of the good advice with all of you, but I won’t because I’m a dick. Instead, I’m going to share with you some of the worst career advice I’ve ever received. That way, we can all laugh together.
1 – You Like to Argue. You should be a Lawyer!
Thank god I never actually agreed with this.
I don’t know for sure why everyone associates “attorney” with “argumentative assholes,” but it isn’t really a fair assessment. I am clearly the latter. I have no qualms about starting an argument for no apparent reason on a topic I couldn’t care less about. I have been known to switch sides randomly for the sole purpose on keeping the argument going.
I do it with myself…
Bu, I’m not an attorney. Practicing law involves studying, research, and a strict adherence to seemingly arbitrary rules about power suits. I don’t like the way my legs look in a skirt, so I simply cannot practice law.
See, I learned in high school that I wasn’t any good at debate. I’m great at arguing, bad at debating. And, yes, there is a huge difference between the two.
A good debate is based on logical arguments supported by facts. A good argument is purely emotional manipulation and mental jujitsu.
A debate is won by the side most articulately presenting their case. Arguments have no winner, a lesson I wish I had learned before spending most of my freshman year trying to make my opponents cry under the sheer volume of their own stupidity.
See, despite what you might believe, arguing is not actually a skill set with much practical application outside of blogging and politics.
Lawyers are trained in debate. Well, at least trial lawyers. I’d wager a shiny nickel most lawyers spend their time researching contracts or filing reports.
I can do research and file reports without $100,000 in student debt, thank you very much.
2 – You’re good at computers. You should go into computers.
I’m absolutely sure every geek on the planet has heard this advice. This was probably pretty good advice when I was 11 or 12. I doubt it, but it might have been.
“Computers are where the money is,” they say. “Get a Computer Science degree. Make all that IT money!” Everyone seems to think it. Everyone says it. The only problem: everyone is stupid.
Besides being completely oversaturated–a consequence of forcing everyone with the slightest interest, aptitude, or even just thick enough glasses into an industry for twenty years–most IT jobs can actually be replaced by a functional human brain and a Google search.
Sure, your workforce needs to know enough about computers to know how to Google something, but, in the Human Resources world, they call that “being under 40.”
Worse, companies know that. They are paying tech support less and less each year. The only hope for those millions of nerds with comp sci degrees is to create their own startup and sell it for billions of dollars.
Although, no one who has ever done that had a degree in computer science.
My Prediction: No company will have an IT Department within five years. It is a waste of resources and they will replace it with a water park.
3 – Any job is better than no job
What? You expect me to elaborate on number 3? Fine…
3 – Any job is better than no job–Redux.
I have worked a lot of jobs in my life. I have counted nuts in a warehouse. I have bagged groceries, graduated to cashier, stock boy, and shift manager, only to be laid off. I have been the world’s worst door-to-door sales rep and telemarketer. I have washed dishes, carried bricks, and cleaned human feces from urinals.
No matter how horrible any of these jobs has been, I always thought I needed to keep going because any job is better than no job.
But I was an idiot. Not only were some of these jobs horrible enough I would rather be stabbed in the right testicle with an ice pick somehow both rusty and made of salt before I would ever do them again, but several of them actually cost me more than not working.
Take door-to-door sales. The hours were horrible (8 am to 9 pm) and I only made money based on sales–which I sucked at. I still had to drive downtown every day, spend 13 hours on my feet, then drive home.
I made a grand total of about $40 in the week I was working there and probably spent somewhere around $100 in gas. Besides, working 13 hours left me with no ability to look for a better job.
It was exploitation, and, as far as I know still going strong.
Now can I move on to #4? Nosey bastards? Good, ‘cause I’m gonna.
4 – Find the thing you would do if money was no object. Then do that.
Imagine you have a billion dollars (or quadrillion if you are reading this in the future and want to adjust for inflation). Now, since you will never actually have to work again, what would you do?
Me, I would build a house out of pizza rolls, fill it with a giant TV and all the streaming services, then, do nothing.
Seriously, I’ve gone without working for six months and spent almost the entire time laying on a couch, eating pizza rolls, and watching syndicated police procedurals. How many ways can you get paid for that?
Seriously, if you know, you have a moral obligation to tell me.
The truth is, you can’t. I paid other people to let me eat pizza rolls and spoil the endings of every cop show ever. (It was the cousin-sister-clown.)
Better advice: Find the job you hate the least but still pays you, then do that.
Really, when people are trying to be helpful and encouraging, this is probably what they actually mean.
The exception to this rule is heroin tester. You might really enjoy heroin tester, but you should avoid it as an industry. The dress code is too strict.
5 – It’s not about the money. It’s about the benefits.
Now that I’m in my 30s, things like insurance are becoming more important. I like having that safety net. I even have dental and vision. Never had those before. I’m thinking about getting robot teeth.
Still, I’d much rather have a giant stack of gold than functional gums. What am I going to do with gums? Eat Jell-O?
I do like Jell-O.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having access to health care when I need it, but I can’t help but feel people stay with companies well pas when they should because they’re afraid of losing insurance.
Employee benefits make us codependent on our employers. Trust me, I know a thing or two about being codependent.
Also regular dependent.
I’m not actually very good at things.
Of course, you could do the smart thing and not worry about any of this. Ignore it all. There’s no need to fret. Whatever job you end up doing is likely to be replaced by a robot in a few years anyway.