Article by Wendy McCance
College isn’t the end all to getting the life you want! I am probably one of very few parents who would even venture to tell their kids this, but I have. Your dreams, your hopes and aspirations can come true no matter what your background is and how much money you have. You only need a desire to do something so much that you go after it no matter what obstacles are in your path.
Let me give you some examples.
Example 1: I only have an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts. This degree never did a thing for me. It never helped me get any job. The only reason I got any degree is because I was told I had to by my own parents. After getting a 2 year degree, I stopped going to school. I was already in a career as an account manager for a beverage wholesaler and had no idea what I would have studied if I went on with school, so I didn’t.
Years later, I ended up working at General Motors as a line worker. I made more money than most people I knew who had a degree. After the plant closed, I panicked because I didn’t know what to do for a living. I went back to school because I thought it was the only way to move on. I studied to become a paralegal. When I got out of school, the only jobs I could find were for receptionist’s at law firms. I applied to a few firms. Minimum wage is what I was offered. I could have done better without the extra training. I figured that eventually I would be working as a paralegal so I took the job.
The work I did was something I could have done while I was in high school. It was a horrible feeling to go from making $60,000 a year to minimum wage. I didn’t even feel challenged in my job. It was a low point for me.
A year later, I was out of work (still having worked as a receptionist). I had fibromyalgia and sitting for long periods of time was painful. I had no idea how I would make a living. It was at this very low point that I began to write. Writing became my savior. It was what I loved as a child. I used to dream of being an author but never took myself seriously enough to pursue that avenue when I was younger.
I realized that I could write sitting, stretched out with the laptop or standing if need be. I could nap when I was exhausted and work when I felt good. My passion for writing and the realization that I could work around my fibromyalgia and still contribute to the family expenses with an income of my own was the way to go.
I never had formal training and didn’t have any professional assignments to show to a potential client. I didn’t care. I was determined to create a life for myself with a writing career. I worked like a madwoman by prospecting for work and showing off my skills on my blog and in writing groups. The assignments began to come in. I am now a full-time writer with a steady flow of work. I took adversity and fought back. I followed a dream and made it come true.
Example 2: My husband only has a high school diploma. He is extremely smart and picks up technical information quickly. He was also a factory employee who lost his job when our plant closed. He began to take classes at a community college to become a computer programmer. It was going to be a long road for him. He needed a Bachelor Degree at minimum to qualify for the jobs offered in the area he aspired to work in.
My husband found another factory job, but this one was through a temp agency and only paid minimum wage. To make matters worse, he hated the job with a passion. He was miserable each day he headed out the door to work. On a whim, he decided to take a day off and look for another job. He figured any job would be better than what he was doing. He found a job working at a company that manufactured car parts. The job he applied for was right up his alley. He knew he could do the job which required installing assembly lines, writing programs and working on circuit board designs, but the company was looking for someone with experience. He wrote up a resume anyway and was able to demonstrate what he knew and why he would be a good candidate. An hour after he sent the resume, he got a call for an interview. He got the job.
Two years later, he had his eyes on going into an area where he could work with robots. Always in the back of his mind he wanted to be a computer programmer, but he didn’t have the time or money for additional classes, so he put his ultimate dream on hold.
Looking through ads for job opportunities, he stumbled upon a company that had the robotic job he had hoped to get. Even better, there was no mention of needing a degree of any type to qualify. He applied even though his training was somewhat different from what the company was looking for. Even so, he had a background working for a car plant and then a manufacturer of car parts. This company was also in the automotive industry. He got a call and ultimately the job. His new title was project engineer. Yep, he got that title without a college degree.
The job was a dream but there was travelling that over the years got out of control. He ended up out-of-town more often than he was home. The travel ultimately got to be too much. He was back to trying to figure out what was next. I was doing well with my career and so it was decided it was time for him to finally pursue that dream of becoming a computer programmer. It didn’t matter if his salary was cut in half, but he hoped to get an internship instead of going back to school. He has this ability to learn fast and can work with minimal supervision. He heard of a job where he could work as an intern and applied.
The interview went well and he was offered the job on the spot. While he was being interviewed, he was told that it was unbelievable how many people came in to intern but knew nothing about programming. What set my husband apart was not only his background programming robots, but more importantly, he was studying programming by reading books and watching videos online about the areas he was interested in. He had already been prepping for an opportunity like this.
Example 3: My daughter is a year out of high school. She is going to a community college because she assumed it was what she should be doing next. She is frustrated because school has always been difficult for her. She has ADD and has struggled with learning in a formal environment. She does her best work when she gets to be creative and learn in that fashion. In the last year she began taking dance classes. She loves dance more than anything she has ever done. A second class was added into her schedule and she is thriving. She has been praised repeatedly for how fast she catches on and how she is a natural. She really is THAT good. So now she wants to find a way to create a career out of what she loves. She is still taking some academic classes because she is not sure what area of dance she will end up in. Will she dance, teach, have a dance studio? For the moment she is testing the waters and figuring out what direction will be best for her.
In her very first semester of dance, she stood out enough that a tv crew who was doing an interview at the school asked if they could use her in their clip. She has impressed enough that she was asked to be in a dance show at the end of the year.
I am confident that if she was to drop out of school tomorrow, she would still thrive. She wakes up each day and absorbs dance all day long. She watches videos on technique, practices and reads up on how dancers have carved out a life doing what they love. Her passion takes her through each hour of each day and each day of the week where that’s all she focuses on.
For some, school is the most effective path for them to get where they want to go. But, for others, a more creative approach works just as well. There is no one size fits all way of making your dream come true. All you need is the passion, persistence and desire to work like hell to see your dreams fulfilled. If you want it badly enough, you can do anything!