The 2014 Weinberg College of Midwestern University Commencement speech by Daniel Pink was a really good piece of advice for the graduates present. It was also something that I feel every student present and future can benefit from seeing.
Pink states that he took a Linguistics degree from Weinberg and people asked him the usual question, “what are you going to do with a Linguistics degree?”.
I have to say that I had much the same said to me when I did a Politics degree. “Are you going to become a politician?”
Pink states that the value of a degree is in the process not the content. He states that too many people go to University with a preset plan and they have their lives mapped out for them. Unfortunately, these people often fail to enjoy their careers or get to truly find the thing that expresses their true self.
My profession, teaching, is full of would-be’s. We are the artists that never were, the failed scientists, doctors and in my case, ironically, academics. There are too few who go into the profession because they want to really teach. I found it a haven after a failed attempt to become an accountant, which I knew would condemn me to a life of drudgery.
My reasons for “drifting in” to teaching are that I had a life plan that was disrupted by my inability to do exams. I now realise that I should have drifted, explored and tried a lot of things which may have led me to truly achieve what I feel I was capable of and maybe taken me to areas of experience that I would now be looking back on (from the vantage point of retirement) with feelings of gratitude and pleasure.
I would recommend Daniel Pink’s wise words to any future or present student who asks themselves the age-old question, “what career path should I take and what is the best degree for me?”