PERSPECTIVE: Following dreams not best advice

I never thought I would see the day when dairy farming would become an appealing occupation.

According to an annual report by, milking cows pays almost twice as much as writing for newspapers.

Jobs such as being a lumberjack or a meter reader ranked even higher on the scale of desirability than journalists, who were described on CareerCast. com as suffering “high stress and tight deadlines, low pay and requirement to work in all conditions to get the story.”

My childhood dream was to become a writer, and I have pursued this goal through college, finishing with an internship this spring at The Jackson Sun.

I had the chance to work there, but my soon-to-be married status requires that I live in Nashville.

And so, as I fill out résumés and count my pennies, I have to wonder if old adages like “do what you love” matter in the long run.

Dreams normally don’t pay the bills. Currently, the only thing my aspirations as a writer seem to promise is a diet of Ramen noodles.

Receiving notifications of student loans simply darken the gray clouds looming in our futures as we struggle to find employment.

But not all hope is lost, neither for my fellow seniors nor for any underclassman pursuing an occupation other than dairy farming. The trick to success seems to be in one’s mindset.

“Even in this economy there are ways to incorporate what you love into what you do,” said Katharine Brooks, director of Liberal Arts Career Services at the University of Texas at Austin, in the online Psychology Today article “Can You Really ‘Do What You Love’ These Days?” posted Nov. 25, 2012. “Because the truth is you probably love many things.”

In a perfect world, we would all graduate with a great job waiting for us in our chosen career fields. But if that does not happen, life is not over, and we have not spent four years in vain.

For instance, my experience in journalism is primarily writing for newspapers, but the fact that reporting jobs are dwindling does not mean my writing career is doomed.

Other job options exist, including writing for blogs and magazines or entering the world of public relations. My situation is not unique, however, as all students in all majors have interests outside of their ideal jobs.

In the Nov. 14, 2012, Inc. article, “Do What You Love? Screw That,” author Jeff Haden also made an interesting point in that picking a career based on one’s passion is dangerous, as a “hobby” occupation typically cannot sustain someone as his or her full-time job.

“Want to love what you do?” Haden asked. “Pick something interesting. Pick something financially viable – something people will pay you to do or provide.

“Then work hard. Improve your skills, whether at managing, selling, creating, implementing – whatever skills your business requires. Use the satisfaction and fulfillment of small victories as motivation to keep working hard.”

To Haden, the love for one’s job is directly related to one’s professional experience in that field.

That may not be the case for everyone. But it’s important to realize that post-college life may not be as blissful in the beginning as we imagine.

We may be underpaid and overworked and wonder why we even got a degree in the first place.

But for Haden, it’s all part of the bumpy road that can take us somewhere good. And that destination may turn out looking a lot different than we imagine at the time we switch the tassels across our caps.

Rather than worry about graduating with the wrong major, perhaps a change in perspective is all we need. With an open mind, trust in God and some elbow juice, we can all be satisfied in all we do.

Even if that means being a dairy farmer.

About Beth Byrd 27 Articles
Beth is the editor-in-chief of the Cardinal & Cream. She is a senior journalism major.