Is Porn a Reliable Career Path?

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David Potts writes on www.thecitywire.com – “Son, what are your plans after you graduate this month?”

“Well Mom, I’m heading to California to be a porn star. I’m going to follow my passion!”

If being a porn star was a respectable job, I imagine 50% of all males graduating from high schools in this country would head for California. The other 50% would be jealous of their classmates, but restrain from moving west because of their fear of God and their mothers.

Of course this idea is absurd, but so is the advice that nearly every high school graduate hears at commencement: “Follow your passion!”

Nobody should choose the career path they will hate. But making a choice based on misguided inspiration without applying forward thinking and common sense is just down right foolish.

What many commencement addresses fail to include with their “go conquer the world” theme is that there are market forces that determine whether you’re employable. Market forces aren’t influenced by your passion. They are influenced by the world’s needs, the world’s wants. Remember, you have to live and survive in a capitalist society.

This time last year, 53% of all college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed. Investor’s Business Daily reported in May of 2012 that the majority of the unemployed age 25 and over have attended at least some college. A college degree is not a guarantee to a good job.

Are these statistics telling us that college is no longer a good investment? I don’t think that would be the right conclusion. I believe education and skill development is crucial for our country’s economic vitality. I just don’t think this incessant message, “Follow your passion!” is a realistic choice without confirmation “your passion” is marketable.

Companies have been telling us for years that they have plenty of job openings, but not enough job applicants with the necessary skills to fill these jobs. Unemployment in this country has become structural, chronic, because of this mismatch between available skills and skilled workers.

If you want to make a decent wage, you have to have “marketable” skills. Marketable skills are skills that are in demand where people will pay you for your time and effort because of what you can do for them. Let’s be honest, how many jobs are available for a person with a degree in Russian Literature?

“Follow your passion!” It is an inspiring message.

How many CPAs in this country do you believe began their college career because accounting was their passion? When I chose accounting as a field of study, I didn’t even know what an accountant did. However, as I progressed through college, I understood what I was taught, I passed my CPA exam the year I graduated, and I found accounting was a profession that I was good at and it has been good to me.

I did not start my life as an accountant with a fevered passion. As I progressed, I became quite passionate about learning the art and science of business. There is gratification in helping a hard-working business owner keep his tax bill as low as possible. I like being part of my client’s success. I may never be compared to Sister Teresa, but there is great satisfaction in helping small businesses grow and succeed.

Even today, accounting is a very marketable skill in an industry where the next 10 years will see a disproportionate percentage of CPAs retire or die.

More and more articles are being published about how college may not be smart course of action anymore. College will always be a great choice for most people. Blame shouldn’t be focused on a college education, but on a student’s poor choice in their field of study if that field of study fails to make them marketable upon graduation.

I would also argue that it is common for students to choose the wrong colleges to meet their educational needs. Colleges are businesses and their representatives will market their school and curriculum to see how much money they can move from your checkbook to theirs. Before you choose a college that leaves you in debt for tens of thousands of dollars when you graduate, consider more reasonable options. For example, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith can provide you a great education in many fields of study at a reasonable cost. For others, a trade school might be the wisest choice.

If you know a recent graduate and if in conversation the graduate talks about how passionate he or she is about a certain field of study, a field of study that isn’t very practical, you might offer your observation that starving and cold people are passionate too. They are passionate about learning how to feed and shelter them and their family. In that sense, they too are following their passion.

Marketable skills, not urges, are needed to preserve a middle class in America.

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