The Path More Traveled


[twitter]I was at a conference this week and sat next to one of the VPs of our company. High school graduation was brought up by the speaker. ” I graduated in 1989,” said our VP. My shoulders slumped, my head dropped. I graduated in 1987.

I chose to leave BCIT after one year to get started on the air. After more than 20 years as a radio announcer (17 of them at one station), you can easily say my career has been a success. My mom was upset when I dropped out to get the ball rolling on my career. She wanted me to go to school and finish the education and get a base.

Still, as I march into my 40s and people I went to school with are taking jobs in the head offices of national companies and VPs are a year younger than me, I have to wonder what would have happened if I had gone through with school.

There was never really a fork in my road where I had to choose between management and labourer – I was just always really good at being on the air and so the path of worker over manager was never really mine to make. I’ve had aspirations to move beyond the microphone, but didn’t want to take the risk to leave a good thing to switch career paths.

Still, I look at the peers of my age and I wonder.

I have a self taught Masters in Social Media and Marketing. I listen to podcasts, read blogs and try to spot trends for the future of media. I understand the radio industry with the savvy of a veteran in the trenches for more than 2 decades. Still, I don’t have that “office” training.

I wonder how I would have fared if I had chased a path behind a desk instead of a path behind the microphone.

I wonder.

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  1. NASW February 26, 2011 at 9:49 am

    You may not have “office” training, but there will be options when and if you decide to get out from behind the microphone. Journalism and mass communication programs at the college/university level always want people with real world experience as instructors. I think every prof I had during my journalism degree at Carleton had practical, real world work experience.

  2. Sean February 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Would being a VP make you happy? Is making more money always a step to happiness? I think there is nothing wrong with continuing to do something you are awesome at. Also I imagine it gives you more time and flexibility with your growing family.

  3. Buzz February 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I’m sure being a VP would make me happy, the question is “would it make me more happy?” That’s what I was just thinking out loud about.

    I don’t have any regrets about the path I’ve chosen, it’s just that I’m entering the middle age of life where my peer group includes VPs, CEOs, government ministers and even Premiers.

    Seeing this has given me pause to wonder what would have happened if I had gone a different direction.

  4. Derek K. Miller February 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I think you’re better for having done what you love.

    I remember what the UBC President David Strangway told me when I was there. He had been Head of Geophysics for NASA during the Moon landings, and revealed that when he went to university, no one imagined we’d go to the Moon so soon, i.e. he could not possibly have followed his studies in order to get the job he did, because the job DIDN’T EXIST.

    I was the same: I’ve made much of my living writing and editing for the Web, but when I graduated from university in 1990, there was no Web. It hadn’t been invented, and neither had my eventual job.

    As you get older, you encounter more and more people in positions of authority and power who are younger than you. That happens no matter your experience, education, and position. You need to get used to it, whether you’re a senior VP in your late 30s or a radio host a bit older than that. 🙂

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