Interests vs Professions..


If I was around in the 70s…photo via angatuba-legionaire, usual rules apply.

I read a very interesting quote t’other day, and I may misquote hideously here – it was concerned with journalism, and went something like this:

“Journalists are going to have to get used to the idea that their professions have become interests”.

And it reminded me of the conversation Richard and I once had about whether advertising was a profession or a trade. I was won round to his thinking that it was, in fact, a trade (for numerous reasons – have a gander at his post).

To be honest, thinking of yourself as working in a trade gets people to focus on selling stuff, and not to act like rambunctious, conceited advertising wankers (the world doesn’t need any more thanks).

It also got me thinking about job satisfaction, and how lots of people I seem to know, some three years into their career (given that the first year is usually scrabbling to get in or making your mind up) seem to get along when they can monetise their interests, being careful not to make it become soulless – to do things so much for money that the joy comes out of it.

Would you become better at your job if you regarded your work as a collection of interests? It would certainly mean that planners had greater levels of empathy with people, and they’d certainly get on better career-wise.

I like to think of myself as having a professional attitude, rather than being a professional myself, who has had to learn specific, set down things – like the names of organs/what they do when studying medicine or case histories for law.

You’d have thought that acting like a professional, but viewing what you do as a series of professional ‘interests’ would have the best of both worlds – you’d take great care in seeing what you do to the bitter end, and turn up on time, and do all the good things that being involved with a profession has – and you wouldn’t turn into some achingly twattish person who is a massive jobsworth and who cares about the wrong things.

And flip that – assume you are in a profession but it’s not a collection of interests (or something that has any interest to you personally). You’re dehumanised. You stop viewing your job as something which impacts on real people – regardless of what it is, and become some faceless automaton. You don’t stick up for your colleagues because you want to shinny up the ladder, and you don’t care who you bugger over on your way to the top.

Acting professionally means you care, and having a collection of interests – rather than just one, which could destroy your versatility/love of it all – means you like the links between things. Both useful career skills, never mind just for planning.

If the web has given us the tools to determine that history is written by the writers and not the winners now, and that there are many tools for determining the plots and subplots of us personally and professionally, why can’t we be the sum of our interests, even at work? If nothing else, it’d get us all to think more laterally, and to not be petty, small minded people who are only defined by our jobs.

So nice one journalism, I think.

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