Thursday, October 27, 2005

My career in 5 minutes for schoolkids

Today I spoke to Son1's morning school assembly for about five minutes. They've invited two or three parents to come each morning this week and talk about their careers, what it is, what kind of training they needed, what's hard about it, what they like, etc.

I heard that Monday was a civil rights lawyer and a physical-therapist-and-foster-mom, and that Tuesday was a professor of anthropology and a university librarian. Yesterday there were three: a physician who works in hospitals and a clinic, a hair salon owner, and a firefighter -- all suited up, of course. I was contacted to talk about being a Web designer.

Okay, this had easy parts and hard parts, as least when I thought about it beforehand.

Easy: Talking to pre-K through fifth graders. Asking them if they've ever visited a Web site to play games or get information (many hands shot up), or if their parents have ever used a Web site. Talking about being a Web designer, having a home business, being self-employed. Telling them that I really enjoy Web design because I like both technical things (math and science) and artistic or visual things.

Hard: Mentioning in a positive way that my path was not straightforward; I thought I wanted to be a scientist but, in the middle of that training, decided I didn't want it any longer, and made some decisions that brought me to the idea of Web design. That I do Web design only part-time, at night and during breaks in the day. That my main job is being an at-home mom and taking care of the household (household engineer, LOL). That I chose a home business in Web design because it fits with the kind of life I want.

But it went well. I really liked that they introduced me by giving my name, that I was most importantly mom to Son1 (pointed out with his class) and Son2 (in the back with dear husband), and that I was also self-employed as a Web designer. Along with the basic What I Do info, I think I managed to mention things that are really important to me -- that there are many choices, you don't necessarily end up work full time or for other people, that where you end up might surprise you, that being a mom is very important to me.

Whew! I didn't say everything I thought of (be a lifelong learner, try all kinds of things, follow your passions -- they may even multiply, you can choose to live within your means, you might choose to be "underemployed" to follow your passion or be more content), but I did hit the main points in my five minutes in the spotlight. 'Cause who knows, one of those kids might actually have noticed something I said and it might make a difference to him or her someday.

Something I thought about afterward: I have no idea if I'll be doing Web design in the same way (with clients, with individual Web sites, etc.) five or ten years from now. What I'm doing now may be just the current form of a changeable, changing aspect of my life and work. And I don't mind that at all.


Lorna said...

sounds very good

nice idea that the school has to do this, don't you think?

Phil said...

I'm really poor at public speaking, even to 2nd graders. I don't think I could do this in my son's class. Mostly, I don't think I could do it because I feel like there's not much for me to say. I'd end up telling all the kids to "Stay young, never grow up! Being an adult sucks!" And then all the kids would start crying and the other dads would beat me up.

But you're right about the ever-changing life.... People ask me what I'm going to do when the kids are out of the house. I have absolutely no idea. Something involving self-employment, I'm sure. But ten, fifteen years from now... The world will be such a different place. I think back to fifteen years AGO and it amazes me.