This post is contributed by Adrienne Courey, who has recently been accepted into culinary school in Ottawa!
My parents always told me that school was for learning. University, specifically, was a place to learn about anything you’ve ever been interested in or wanted to know more about. As a result, I grew up with the belief that university wasn’t meant to get me a job, university was intended to educate me. And educated I got. I did an honours degree in Political Science with a minor in Art History. I loved every single minute of it, right up until the last day of classes.
Then the big question came.
I didn’t go through my university education thinking “Where is this going to get me” or “What can I turn this into”. I think as a whole I got a better education because of that, but also maybe suffered a little bit for it too. I was unprepared and unaware of the pressure that comes when one graduates and friends, family and total strangers ask you what you’re going to do next.
I always toyed with the idea of going to law school after my undergraduate degree. What better to protect me from “real life” than more school? And this time it was school that had a specific purpose – to give me a career. After a lot of hard-thinking and time spent working in a law firm, I realized that career wasn’t for me. I’ve always been a creative person and it has become increasingly difficult to put a creative peg into a corporate-oriented hole.
It has been by no means an easy decision, or a smooth road, but I’ve decided to accept my university education for what I intended it to be – an incredible learning experience. If I had to do it all over again in the same way, I would, even knowing that finding a “real life job” would be harder than I thought. It can be overwhelming to take an Arts degree into the world and try and make something out of it all on your own. There is no list of things to do with an Arts degree, nor is there some kind of central database that you can type “Politics Degree” into and come up with a list of career options. To all you entrepreneurial types out there, someone should make that happen.
But it’s ok for a degree and an education to be a wonderful experience you’ve given yourself. There is a lot of pressure for young, educated people to turn that degree (and all the money spent getting there) into something high-powered and flashy, probably with a Blackberry on your hip the whole time. That’s great for those who find it and love it. But for those who question whether that is for them, know that you can find something else you love, even if it has nothing to do with what you’ve learned so far; you just have to put the extra work in to find it.
For me, that path will take an unconventional turn. I think I am going to apply to a Pastry Chef program at a top-level culinary school in France. To anyone who doesn’t know me well, it probably seems left field – especially for someone with a degree in Politics from a highly respected university. But I’ve found my passion and plan on pursuing it, regardless of my previous formal education. Earning my undergraduate degree was amazing experience, but it can stand alone. It doesn’t always have to dictate my path – I can make my own.