Showing posts with label career. Show all posts
Showing posts with label career. Show all posts


Reading Is Not A Career Skill: Or Is It?

Young Person Reading

I noticed that I had “reading” as a skill on my Linkedin profile. Who puts reading as a skill on Linkedin? Seriously, the last time I told a prospective employer that I liked to read I think I lost the bid for the job.

Curious about reading as a marketable job skill, I punched in "reading as a skill" in the Linkedin search engine, and I got 3,987,983 hits. Certainly, most of these hits correlate to “Reading Teacher” or “Reading Stories” and not necessarily to barebones reading.

Lots of ink has been spilled about reading. And most of it good. PSA's love talking about reading! Hey, frigging Harry Potter loves to read. And I think there is a wonderful PSA of Meryl Streep reading a book.

But I guarantee you if you walk into a workplace and see a guy reading a book I bet you a million bucks his supervisor’s going to think: “that guy’s not doing his job.”

Hell, when I was a high school English teacher, I think when I brought a book to lunch or was caught reading during my planning period, I could swear I got the suspicious eyes from my principal.

Maybe I should have been grading papers. Or, something.

I never realized reading as a skill until I started to write for money.

See. Reading is good when you’re a writer. One of my clients needed some copy on the recent Jeff Koons exhibit at the Whitney so I wrote a five hundred word blurb so he could paste it to his blog. Simple.

I think he was impressed. I guess reading the Arts section of the Times paid off.

I like to think there is a special part of my brain that I like to call the Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations catch pan of useless but fun tidbits gleaned from years of idle reading.

I swear there must be a part of my unconscious that tags quotable quotes when I am reading.

It’s weird because I’ll be writing something and an appropriate quote that matches what I’m writing triggers in my Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations catch pan. It’s uncanny.

Now, these are the days before making notes on a Kindle.

Now all my memorable quotes are memorized for me by Amazon’s cloud service.

But it takes years of reading to build this skill set.

And I am not sure it is a skill set.

Until I get paid for reading, I am thinking of deleting “reading” from my list of attributes. It’s like one of those secret skills. You tell someone you’re reading, and they look at you like you’re from the get-go critiquing their non-reading.

There’s all this garbage circulating that the Internet squashes reading and replaces it with information pawing.

Now, I have a Feedly, bookmarks, and I paw the Web just like any other troll, but I also take time to fucking read. I mean sustained reading. Like reading for more than forty-five minutes without clicking backspace.

I honestly don’t understand all these Internet cleanse people. They complain they don’t have time to read, and they are all nostalgic for those days when they curled up with a book.

Maybe it’s easy for me because I take frequent local commutes on the New York City Subway System.

Until they install wireless access — that they have been doing in the nicer Manhattan parts — I will be content with reading unmolested.

Image Courtesy:  distinctdisciples


"Back to School": When You’ve Been Out Of School (For Awhile)

Talking to an adult learner on the N train today, she told me she likes to see the young kids squirm in their seats when she gets to interpret Shakespearean sonnets. "I have a whole different outlook on love than them. It's not the same." My N train companion is not alone being older than her colleagues. One out of three students in this year’s Freshman class will most likely be over twenty-five years of age.
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1. Diving in 

More adult learners are going back to school. What’s the number one motivation? Desire to learn. As the baby boomers retire, more are fueled with renewed cognitive interest or are tired of doing the same thing time again. It's like Camus imagining Sisyphus pushing that damn rock: you got to think of something new for the descent. 

2. Fitting in

Part of going back to school is a brain thing. Older students report feeling out of place among younger students and find it hard to adjust to new educational attitudes that may differ from what they remember from previous schools. It’ll be different for sure, but fitting in is part of the cognitive process of starting something new.

Rodney Dangerfield in his first economics class.
Video Courtesy: ZaTbone

There are challenges to returning to the classroom, but if Rodney Dangerfield could do it, so can you. 

3. Finding your way
Anyone can go to university if they have a passion. In fact, having a passion makes more sense for those who have already straddled careers and family, because they have had more time to think about what they want. One indicator of success is just that: focus and knowing what you want, having goals, joined with life experience.

4. Revitalizing options

Who says you can have only one career? Billie Letts, of Where The Heart Is fame, wrote her first novel when she was in her 50s. Older and older, it doesn’t mean sapping innovation and creativity. Older people are seeking a second, third, and even fourth career choices. It’s a glimpse into the future. It’s where we’re going, so don’t let ageism creep into the hallowed halls. The younger set now vie for the honor roll with a silver-haired genius. 

5. Being an outlier
We’re living longer. The adult brain is still spry. Voices from across the age spectrum offer different takes on life. You might be older than your professor, and your age has made you an outlier. But outlier status means you give a fresh perspective in the classroom. You’re changing the bell curve. Like Shakespeare meditating on love (or the lady on the N train), learning something new at the apex of life is not letting go of that “ever-fixed mark” that "looks on tempests and is never shaken."