The School of Life view on careers

One of the most enjoyable parts of talking to young people about careers is the uneven and unpredictable mixture of the nuts and bolts (what grades do I need for this course?) and the bigger questions (how do I find a job that makes me happy?) you get.

It’s those bigger questions which, for me, made the theory module in the Level 6 Career Guidance & Theory qualification so interesting and worthwhile. It’s also why, once in a while, I think it’s a good idea to read and ruminate on articles like the ones linked below from the School of Life. The School is an organisation of academics, lecturers and writers who wish to aid people think about and begin to find answers to the bigger questions around relationships, careers and fulfillment. Usually, when careers advice starts to tread close to the lapping waters of “life coaching” my inner skeptic makes me take a quick exit but I liked the clear, down to earth language of the articles and videos and their wider messages.

On Misemployment and how what’s important isn’t just employment numbers but what those human hours are doing:

On motivation at work and were we derive the real value of striving to do a good job:

On what makes people unhappy at work:

which includes the paragraphs

…our societies have fallen prey to the charming but reckless democratic idea that everyone has a professional destiny – and should be left alone to discover it. But, in truth, almost no one does have such a thing. Most of us hover weakly between multiple possibilities; we have no sense of what we would deeply enjoy, what is available and what we would be best suited to. Panicked, we therefore choose blindly, in a hurry, under pressure – and, inevitably, erroneously.

Before choosing, we are often sent to a career counsellor for a session or two – in order to decide the nature of our work on this earth for the next 40 years. We spend more time choosing a car or a holiday.

Career counselling should have become one of the major growth-areas of our times. Scientists should be competing to develop ever more accurate technology in the field. The stars of the profession should be on television. Yet currently, the job feels on a par with being a brain surgeon in medieval times, a mixture of quackery and guess-work.

which I think speaks a lot of truth.


Another School of Life video about how Capitalism could be improved written by Ha-Joon Chang narrated by Alain de Botton.


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