Non-traditional Paths to a Career

I don’t usually think too hard about my kids’ getting into college or being prepared for a career. When the time comes, it’ll work out.

I am confident in this because of the realities of American opportunities, and because of knowing many people who have found success non-traditionally. In fact, I know very few people besides myself and my graduate school friends who took the traditional route to their success.

My dad, for example, dropped out of college to go into the military, and owned a business for 20 years. At age 50, he decided to sell his business and get his teaching credential.

He got his degree, taught for two years, then decided that wasn’t going to work, because he had to support his new wife and children. So, at age 54, he worked as a foreman for a large building company, without any prior experience in the field. At age 58, he decided it was too much physical labor and was too damn cold Colorado to be out in the snow every winter, and trained to be an AutoCad transcriber.

My dad is a great guy, and I love him. But he’s not a superman. He’s a normal guy who made the decision to follow his dream. And he could. Because this is America, and we have lots and lots of ways to reach our goals. (I have a lot of critiques of the US, but the opportunities here to pursue a new life are something I am greatly appreciative of.)

So, my kids. They won’t have any problem getting to where they want to go. They won’t be lost if they don’t do the A->Z trip that most kids take. In fact, they’ll probably have even more chance of success because they aren’t trapped by that path. They are growing up without rails, and therefore, without limits.

I was inspired to post this because I saw these two questions on AskMetafilter today which proves, once again, that success comes in many forms, and is always available to us.

Becoming a dentist at age 30 with no science training whatsoever.

Getting into grad school for economics with a 3.2 undergraduate GPA in architecture.

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8 Responses to “Non-traditional Paths to a Career”

  1. SolidWorks hero Says:

    Another GREAT option is to pursue a Trade!!!

  2. Tammy Says:

    Absolutely SolidWorks! Thanks for the comment.

  3. Tana Says:

    Even though I went through school and got a degree (though it was in Humanities – general Humanities – what can you do with that?), I must say I’ve taken the non-traditional route in most everything I’ve done. I get my foot in the door doing some simple job at a company and soon I’m their troubleshooter or something because I can figure stuff out that other people can’t. I’ve been in the biotech industry, insurance industry, and now I’m editing knitting patterns. All unrelated at first glance, but the process I apply to each job is what makes me a star at what I do.

    I think your kids will do just fine.

  4. Summer Says:

    I know that I’m bias, but taking the non-traditional route seems to be the most fulfilling. There’s just somethig about following your heart and your dreams that can inspire a person to jump hurdles.

    One of the most sucessful people in my life did not even finish high school. Yet she is smart, witty, and charming and has been able to go after any job she wants and gets it.

  5. Sheri Says:

    I agree that too often the A-Z route limits creativity and potential by narrowing one’s focus.

    Unschooled kids don’t have those blinders…particularly those who’ve always been unschooled…they will be the great motivators, inventors and thinkers of the future because they were never told – that’s not possible or that’s not the way it’s done or worse, you HAVE to do it this way.

    Excellent post.

  6. Stacie Says:

    I am relatively new to homeschooling, and VERY new to unschooling. I am very drawn to it, probably because I am a free-spirit by nature. I often thought during my highschool years, “I wish there was another way. I don’t fit into this box.” But, not having parents who were in tune with my needs, I was crammed into the box. I survived, but I did not thrive. I am very thankful that I am able to give my son the freedom I never had.

  7. Colleen Says:

    What a great reminder that there are many ways to live a life. Thanks Tammy!

  8. Tammy Says:

    Tana – Thanks. A big cyber hug to you.

    Summer – Like you, most of my friends found their way through a nontradtional path. In fact, most of my husband’s colleagues in his department at ABC Disney don’t have a degree, or they don’t have the “right” degree. This is *Disney* we’re talking about.

    Sheri – I hate to generalize, but that’s the impression I have too. Have you read “Real Lives” by Grace Llewellyn?

    Stacie – Humans are amazingly adaptable creatures. We survive despite it all. Have you ever read “Teenage Liberation Handbook” by Grace Llewellyn?

    Colleen – Thanks for stopping by. Been really enjoying your blog. 🙂


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