Success beyond a diploma

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The month of May is known for the graduations and in my case I had the privilege to enjoy two. My husband’s son graduated from college on May 6th and his daughter from high school last Thursday.

At both ceremonies I saw hundreds of young men and women dressed with their gowns and caps dreaming about their future, following their passion, and making an impact on the world as all millennials desire these days. However, reality is not what they expect and the jobs with the high profile careers are scarce.

Although the world needs singers, actors, designers, lawyers, managers, doctors, and engineers among others, there are countless professions that are vital to keep the gears of society moving in harmony.

Let me give you an example. I thank God for landscapers, electricians, plumbers, and handymen, because otherwise I would have to hear my husband’s complaints when and if I ask him to fix something around our house.

So, why do people diminish the importance of these vocational trades not only in the United States but around the world?  Well, the answer is in the industry of superior education. They convinced the world that those who hold a degree hold the key to open the door to success.

Even though the numbers vary based on program and institution, the average cost of tuition at private colleges in America for 2016 was $104,000 for four years. My home country, Colombia, doesn’t have recent data so I’ll use my major as an example.

The current tuition for a semester of Communications is about $3,500. I graduated in 2002 and back then the cost was $600 per semester. In 15 years, the total cost of my career jumped from $6,000 to $30,500. Any doubts that a university is a profitable business anywhere in the world?

Mike Rowe, the host of the hit TV show Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel, has dedicated great part of his career to criticize the glamorization of expensive colleges and the stigmatization of noble trades in construction and manufacturing.

According to him, some of the best job opportunities in the US–six million vacancies approximately–are unfilled due to unqualified labor. He also believes that what he calls “the skill gap” for blue collar trades are hindering the engines of job creation and wealth for America.

One of his latest podcasts on YouTube “Don’t Follow Your Dreams” is a masterful compilation of common sense wisdom for new graduates. In summary, he explains that even though our youth’s dreams are important they can also represent obstacles when choosing a prosperous career.

One of his examples about being passionate for the job is the story of a successful owner of a septic tank management company. The millionaire said: “I looked around to see where everyone else was headed, and then I went the opposite way. Then I got good at my work. Then I began to prosper. Then one day, I realized I was passionate about other people’s crap.

When I graduated as a journalist I wanted to change the world, but the world ended up changing me. I realized that if I wanted to write for a living I would starve. Therefore, I jumped in with both feet and moved to America with an open mind and ready to work in anything that my abilities allowed me.

I worked two weeks as a secretary of an auto body shop in Orlando, FL–even though I couldn’t even change a tire–and later, I found out that I have a sales personality even though in Colombia I couldn’t sell a bottle of water in a desert to save my life. Today I write as a hobby, with all my passion but knowing that all my bills are paid.

In his own words, “Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Xiomara Spadafora

This column was sponsored by Zellner Insurance Agency. Many things in life don’t have insurance. For everything else call Zellner (888) 208-8119

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