Monday, September 17, 2007

Why I Went Back To School

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands,
but in seeing with new eyes.
- Marcel Proust, French novelist

When I was a health care worker, the time came when I realised I was in a dead-end job. It had been good career while in my twenties but was starting to take it’s toll on me emotionally and physically as I got older and more frustrated with the system. The average person burns out and leaves that branch of the field after 3 ½ years. I was dangerously overweight, very unhappy and probably headed for a heart attack.

Two things kept me there so long:
  1. Financial security
  2. A lack of self-confidence in my skills and abilities

In regards to the former, it is difficult to justify leaving a good paying job for the sizably disparate revenues typical of the arts world. The old line “Don’t quit your day job” isn’t necessarily an insult. The key is to find a balance that allows you to be creative while covering your bills until you “make it big”.

I’ve had a ton of temporary part time jobs since finally making the break, and while some might have been unpleasant, I learned something with every one which I could take away with me and put to use in my own business.

In an attempt to address my self-confidence issue, I did two important things for myself:

First, I found out what transferable skills I had; and then, I went back to school for the skills I needed. Most of my paid work since high school would be considered unskilled labour (or so I thought). When I looked at all the things I’d learned to do through work experience, and as a part-time literary event promoter and graphic designer, I’d accumulated a lot of adaptable skills over the years. Knowing this helped me shift my mind set from a stagnated one to one that wanted to move forward with confidence and faith in my own abilities to adapt and grow.

Having a diploma was also an affirmation that I was doing something credible and worthwhile – that I was taking myself seriously. It also started revealing new opportunities to me, but more so, going back to school gave me some perspective about what I had been doing and allowed me to see ways of perhaps doing it more effectively.

While in the college program I chose, I saw that there was a real need for artists (and non-profits, for that matter) to promote themselves better and to start looking at what they do in a more business-like manner with an eye for creating income for themselves. Without spending a ton of money to do it!

As I started building my workshops, I kept this in mind. That’s why the workshops I offer through the Vancouver School Board take way less time and money than similar college level programs.

Get more info at

You won’t find any other classes that offer so many great benefits (like fabulous guest speakers) for so little time and money.

I wish they had these courses when I went back to school! Lucky you!

PS: When the big band music business slowed in the late sixties, Vancouver legend Dal Richards returned to school and received a Diploma of Technology in Hospitality Management from BCIT. He worked for fifteen years in the hotel business. Once big band swing music regained popularity in the 1980s, Dal resurrected his Orchestra, and the band and Dal have never been busier. He’s performing on his 90th birthday in January, 2008.

Go back to The Creative Spin

No comments: