Social Services Or Drive A Truck?


Last Friday afternoon a woman introduced herself to me at my workplace. She was looking for some information on a truck driving apprenticeship she had seen posted days earlier. The conversation we entered into might be one you could benefit from in replaying.

In short, this woman turned out to be 28 years old with a Social Services Worker diploma and University Degree in the Social Sciences. She was well groomed, clean, made excellent eye contact, had a nice smile, and appeared in good physical shape. Her first impression was all in all a good one. She certainly did not look like what my individual stereotype of a, ‘Trucker’ is. Yes I have a stereotype of what the professional Truck Driver looks like, in that regard I’m probably no better or worse than anyone else.

Turns out she’s lived in the area her whole life and spoke of some negative personal experiences in the past, describing herself as a person who gives more of herself than she should and then gets taken advantage of. Doesn’t think therefore that Social Services is necessarily the job for her and wants to be an International Truck Driver so she can see the road.

Can you imagine the interview for this woman going for either a Truck Driver job or a Social Services Caseworker? Those two interviews would be very different. This woman doesn’t have a full Ontario Driver’s licence yet to drive a car, and no truck driving experience. Hence the need for the apprenticeship truck driving course that first introduced her to me. Now I’d say my ability to size up a good potential Truck Driver are pretty poor. I’m not sure what an employer would want beyond a clean driver’s abstract, and an ability to make deadlines, drive for long periods and be fairly independent.

A Social Services Worker however, now that’s my forte. I still can’t say that I’d nail a suitable candidate from a lineup every time, but having spoke with her for fifteen minutes, I could project how her voice, her attention, her focus, her eye contact etc. would be consistent with some of the attributes that many good Social Services Workers possess. Now I can’t make a leap to say she’d be great, and it certainly takes more than a chance meeting of 15 minutes to determine if someone is right for a career or not, but that first impression led me to think it would be a shame if she was driving an eighteen wheeler thirty-two miles out of Red Deer when she should be offering advice, listening with empathy, and building up someone’s self-esteem. However, having said all of this, only that woman knows the whole story about herself; just as you are the only one to know yourself better than anyone else. So rather than, tell somebody what they should be in life, or worse yet make them feel bad for eventually choosing some occupation that you want for them, best to be supportive, helpful and let them come to that determination on their own.

Again, imagine that interview question, “Why do you want to be a Truck Driver when you’ve had training in Social Services and no experience driving a rig?” What would you answer based on the scenario I’m painting? Maybe you’d answer by talking about your lack of fulfillment, a change in wants and needs, being burned out and needing a job that gives you a lot of alone time. Some of these might work better than others, especially at 28 years old. Factor in five years of schooling at minimum and maybe all you’re left with is someone who hasn’t been able to crack the field and get interviewed and has no work experience. That frustration level has resulted in a desire to change fields and do something – anything that will land a job with quick training. Who knows?

Career indecision is very frustrating because we seem to need to have it all figured out by the time we are 28. Of course we only feel that way if we are 28. There are people at 20, 37, 41, 52 etc. who still feel the pressure to know what they want to do; in other words the purpose in our lives needs fulfilling at all times in our lives. Even when approaching retirement, the number one question co-workers ask of someone at their retirement party is, “What are you going to do with your time?”

Maybe, like someone entering retirement, we should just encourage each other to enjoy the present and do whatever it is that we find fulfillment and happiness in; recognizing that this might mean changing careers and jobs often over a lifetime for some and seldom for others. Interestingly enough, this is the way things are now anyway isn’t it?

All the very best to you today!

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