Career & Education

Should I choose IT or writing?

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, September 16, 2018

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Dear Career Advisor:

I have just completed a degree in marketing and information systems; but my dream has been to become a writer. I could sit for hours writing and thoroughly enjoy what I am doing. I am at a crossroad; should I launch out into fulfilling my passion or take a job aligned to my training? I did take a loan to fund my education and I know I will soon need to begin repayment. Should money be the determining factor in my career path?

Yours truly,

Perplexed

Dear Perplexed:

Indeed, as in your case, many career decisions involve a balancing act between taking risks and following your dreams or cautiously going with the flow and taking the first job that comes along.

Whereas we often encourage young people to pursue their passions and go after their dreams, each individual's story is different. It is very important to analyse your specific circumstances, evaluating what are the opportunities and the risks of pursuing your passion, and weigh them against career goals and the meeting of your immediate obligations. With divergent paths such as you are considering, it is important to first evaluate and then make an informed decision.

The fantasy of locking yourself away and writing all day may not, at this time, be your best option. Consider what will be required for you to become a successful writer. It is very likely that you might not immediately become an “overnight success”. What and how long will it take to build a career as a writer? In addition to writing profusely and generating volumes of pages, you will need to brand, market, and actually sell your work. You will need to be interfacing with publishers, sales representatives, publicists, and event planners for book launches and signings. You will also have to give attention to record keeping, personal accounting and financial management. Unless you have someone able and willing to take on these challenges on your behalf, you will very likely have to do them yourself. For those tasks, your formal training will prove useful.

Bear in mind, too, that you need to maintain your integrity by honouring your financial obligations. Even if your financiers allow a moratorium for the start of repayment of your loan, it will likely take more time than that to successfully publish and begin to earn from even your best work. You will also have to plan for your personal support and living expenses.

We take it that you have already been writing and have identified your target audience. How have you been sharing your work? Will your output be for the online or print market? Have you been sharing your work by blogging? Why not consider having the best of both worlds? You could consider becoming a corporate writer, spanning issues relating to business, information and technology. As you begin your career journey, it might be prudent to take part-time employment using the income to clear your loan obligations while writing and laying a foundation for future publications.

While our advice to you is not prescriptive, we trust the points provided for your consideration will help guide your careful analysis and decision.

All the best.

Sincerely,

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president, student services, at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, MAnchester. Submit your questions to her at careeradvisor@ncu.edu.jm

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