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Minding the Gap

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

In this blog, I wanted to discuss the insecurities of a young Pacific woman - particularly those of one that has recently graduated and is looking for a job, or thinking of a next phase in her life - for example, maybe starting a business.

Let me start from the beginning.

After university, I made a substantial career change from aviation to public policy/development.

Making the professional moves from the NGO sector, to the private sector, then donor sector was a deliberate decision on my part, as I wanted to understand the nuances in each line of work. That experience has taught me the importance of networks and the intersect these sectors have with each other.

At least that’s the spiel I have at the ready, whenever someone looks at my CV, then looks at me as if to say - I feel like you’re wasting your years of training on something completely far-fetched and left field.

I think that is a shallow perspective. There is a bigger picture at play here.

Believing that we should only be doing one thing for the rest of our lives is the systemic, bigger issue I would like us to rethink and re-frame.

In this, I find a gap. A disconnect.

Having an education, gaining those accolades - aaaall of that should not (and does not) preclude something else.

If going to university taught me ONE thing... It was that my soft skills were transferable. My career trajectory had a transient flight-path (bad pun intended) that I chose to make, with the many crisscrossing paths and detours that also feed my hobbies, my passions, my creativity and my personal, mental, spiritual and professional development.

College or university is not the end all, be all of life for us, Pacific millennial's.

Yes, we may have grown up with parents who had very hard lives and overcame MOUNTAINS of obstacles to grant us the freedom to have an easier life (and I will never negate that, and will always be the loudest cheerleader for their sacrifices) - but that does not necessarily translate into singularly repaying that emotional and financial debt to them. See my thoughts here.

You can be a doctor - and bake.

Be a teacher - and flip houses.

Be a manager - and make furniture.

In the hustle and bustle of getting an education that will open those doors of opportunity denied to many of us because of limited resources, and as a spill over effect - choices... Never forget to embrace your creativity and nurture your passions. Whatever they may be.

In this day and age - and particularly now, during this COVID-19 impacted period - although we certainly would be better off with multiple streams of income... The capitalist lie of being amazing at everything you do, and ergo, monetize your craft - should also be dissuaded!

Paint badly, sing offkey... Be. A. Normal. Person!

Of course it's a bonus if your passion becomes a secondary form of income, but that should never be the end goal.

The point of this blog was to explain to you that you should not be confined to a single box, based on your experiences and based on your education.

As Melanesians, and amongst some of the hugest fans of academia, we need to lose the disrespect we have for blue collar work. For skilled (or unskilled) labour. We forget that a huge chunk of our economy operates in the informal economy... That 80% of our population live in rural areas... That not everyone can have a white collar job.

But skilled trades are an actual career. Please read this article here.

In fact, in Australia, whilst median earnings are around $68,000 per year (according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics), an aircraft maintenance engineer in a non-managerial role, earns about $117,800 per year. An electrician and plumber around $2,000 per week - $104,000 per eyar.

Now during COVID-19 these skills are in high demand, with people being home more and finding all sorts of things wrong in their households, now that they've had to forcibly slow down and inspect their surroundings more.

Let's talk about College degrees for another. At the very least, an education ensures you understand the systems and structures in place.

Studying at university is an experience in and of itself. It places you in rooms with ambition and other driven people. What you learn and the education you get means that degree will open doors, and opportunities.

But their truest value (in my own opinion) is that they place you in proximity of those that can help build your connections and credibility. Simplistically, 'networking'.

To not understand that it is not your education, but your networking prowess, that gets you your true market value (and by happy flow on effect - your money) - can be the biggest detriment to your career.

So make those networking links - as painful as they may be (I am an introvert, so I know this is a truly frightening obstacle to overcome). But whilst you're at that, use your critical thinking and reasoning.

Not all connections are for your benefit.

Be savvy enough to know the warning signs of people who are only in your orbit to see you fail. Know your worth and don't interact with them.

Success and happiness are your own responsibility however and develop from work (or relationships) with meaning.

Whatever you do, do not simply do life as a game of play along, or trying to keep up - or worse, catch up. It has been said that comparison is the thief of all joy.

Lose the idea (despite EVERYTHING YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT) that everyone's hopes and dreams should be placed on your life path, simply because you are the first. The first in your family (or community) to attend university, or become a skilled trades person.

Be mindful of the gap - but do not lose yourself in it. See here about further thoughts on this.

You may be the first - but soul search and audit your choices to ensure that the career path and education journey you have chosen is what you want - not what your family wants, or what your significant other wants, or what other people said you would never be (because let's be frank, spite driven careers are a very real thing! But let's save that for another blog).

If your audit found that this was absolutely your choice, then sis - get that degree. Despite our narrow job market where people have had to make the hard life choices of leaving behind their passions in exchange for a job in a different industry or sector, simply because of the scarcity of jobs in our country...

University may not be the guaranteed pathway out of poverty, but it certainly helps much more than it hurts.

In essence, each to their own.

You will always have better options with an education, than with out one - whilst also being better prepared to tackle obstacles that you will face...

But that said, I also know many a fellow Solomon Islander who has made good for themselves and built an empire, without the benefits of an education.

Whatever your choices and paths -

Embrace all opportunity.

Seek out every chance to enhance yourself.

The end goal is to be self-sufficient and inspired on a daily basis and always, ALWAYS seek to be a better person than you were yesterday.

You are the sum of all your parts - and Life is a competition with nobody, except yourself. ❤️

I hope that invoked some critical thinking and thought processes...
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