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Follow your passion: Who can afford it?

? Blogging Synergies Part 2 |


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June 04, 2005

Follow your passion: Who can afford it?

Stephen Baker

I tried to make the case last weekend that journalists and other word people often missed out on the math view of the world. But this Times op-ed celebrates the possibilities even for the math-averse. Turns out, according to Daniel Pink, you can follow your passion, be creative, and make a good living creating the content for the digital world. While the math types build the networks and create all the cool devices, the right-brainers will write the screenplays and blogs, come up with the images and the jokes. That's the work least likely to be off-shored or handled by a computer. (Nursing and physical therapy will also remain local and human)

But here's the problem. It takes time to make a living from arts and letters. It really helps to be unencumbered in your 20s. In the past, these folks would live in group housing, make money waitressing or driving a cab, and squeeze in their creative stuff wherever possible. Many would save a couple thousand bucks and take long trips abroad. They were free to invest in themselves, and it paid off.

It's much harder to invest in yourself this way if you emerge from college with big debt. Or graduate school with bigger debt. The 20-somethings I know are diving for money right away. Many of them know that good money at 25 leads to dead-ends a decade later. It's no secret that those entry-level jobs in banks and brokerages are vulnerable to computers and body shops in Bangalore. But while they'd love to follow their passions, too many of today's young cannot afford to postpone paydays. Sounds strange, but being a poor struggling young artist or writer is all too often a privilege of the well-to-do. Everyone else has to make real money.

12:53 PM


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? Can You Afford to Follow Your Passion? from The IWJ Blog

While it is difficult to juggle writing, a full-time job, a family and other life issues it can and has been done. Plenty of writers have also started their careers late in life when they are more able to find the time. [Read More]

Tracked on June 6, 2005 04:04 PM

? Follow your passion: Who can afford it? from Cognections

This topic always cuts too close for me to talk about it objectively. All i can say is: creative folks will create, with or without financial incentives. Link: Follow your passion: Who can afford it?. It takes time to make [Read More]

Tracked on June 13, 2005 06:19 AM

Of course it is. And everyone's going to college thinking not about humanities courses but about getting a good job. Those of us who study philosopy or English or the arts are often met with, "what kind of job are you going to get with that degree?" Any creative job pays very little and often nothing to start out, entertainment, advertising, arts, journalism etc. all pay notoriously low wages. It's a tough road but if you're doing what you love, it's worth it. Our culture doesn't value novelists, artists, etc. when you have a Paris Hilton in the media every day. Which is funny, because I have yet to meet one person who holds anything other than contempt for her image and what she represents. Who exactly decided to put Paris Hilton everywhere when noone really likes her?

Posted by: an at June 6, 2005 10:23 AM


A common complaint amongst friends who grew up in Europe has to do with how often American colleges are really vocational schools. As business schools seem to be, for the moment, running out of gas, maybe reform is upon us. It seems like there's a growing disconnect between expectations and reality. It's not a bad thing for a young adult to do a well rounded basic higher education, work for a while, then get advanced vocational training in a specific field. That's not the recipe for instant bucks, but maybe it makes for happier people and more productive lives for everyone involved. Incidentally, I have a couple of graduate degrees. Along the way, I did manage to sneak in a couple of writing courses from the other end of campus.

Pete Zievers

Posted by: Pete Zie at June 6, 2005 12:18 PM

Having graduated in Journalism 41 years ago and dived into work as a WSJ reporter, I can't see that anything has changed. There've always been people who've gone for the work and a few who've traveled, etc. As for the myth that liberal arts majors are better rounded and more cultured, what I see is that they are the most narrow minded people I know. Wonder why that is?

Posted by: Donald E. L. Johnson at June 6, 2005 03:13 PM

Donald, What I'm seeing is the college costs a lot more than it used to, and lots of people are convinced that grad school is as necessary now as college was in the past. Whether that's true or not, people in their 20s are running up far more debt than they did a generation or two back. Of course, there was a brief period five or six years ago, when it seemed that liberal arts types could pursue their dreams and get rich at the same time...

I went back and read my post, and I didn't say there that liberal arts majors were better rounded or more cultured. But I am interested in your idea that they're narrow minded. In my experience, narrow- and broadminded people are scattered over many disciplines.

Posted by: steve baker at June 6, 2005 04:29 PM

Yeah, Steve, I went over the top on that one. No offense intended.

Posted by: Donald E. L. Johnson at June 7, 2005 03:52 PM

No offense taken at all. I've been thinking about it quite a bit over the last day. I read a very interesting anthro paper by a student at Reed College this morning, and I was thinking: This guy is curious. That much is sure. But are curious people, by definition, open-minded? You'll see, he runs into other liberal arts people as he pursues he research who are as close-minded as they come. I'll include the link here, because I found the paper quite a bit of fun, especially the part sub-titled "chicago."

Posted by: steve baker at June 7, 2005 05:01 PM

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