Agony Arts: ‘Do I have to be a teacher?’

Have you ever had an arts problem that you just can’t get your head round? As a tortured, misunderstood artist there doesn’t seem to be any place to go and solve those arty issues that plague your life. We feel your pain. Well, Impact Arts  are here to save the day with our Agony Arts team – your go to gurus for all your arty needs. Consider all your arts problems solved.

Dear Agony Arts,

I have a really frustrating problem. Over summer I attended my family’s annual summer barbecue, which is pretty much the only time I ever get to see my extended family. As you can imagine I was interrogated about my university life in a way which could only have been carried out by my family. From the endless list of questions, there was one that stuck with me: ‘so what are you going to do with an English degree? Become a teacher?’ No matter how many times I try to tell them that teaching is not the only option available for an English student, they don’t seem to be able to believe me. The stereotype that surrounds us who study English is very hard to shake off, despite what Taylor Swift tries to tell me, so please help! What should I do?

Larissa Rowan

Hi Larissa,

I understand the deep pain and anguish this unfortunate question will have caused. I myself experienced something similar, yet have defied expectation and all sorts of obstacles to become the wise-cracking, all-knowing Agony-Arts Queen whose words of wisdom you see before you.

“The stereotypes surrounding English students are indeed woeful and potential professions majorly misunderstood”

Firstly, I would advise you to find your own path and follow your dreams, wherever they may take you (even if that career path is not the universally acknowledged joy of teaching.) If you’re not sure what you want to do in later life, don’t worry – no one does. As an Arts student, finding a fixed career path can be hard and intensely competitive, so I advise getting as much experience in the industries or sectors you are interested in to give you a head start. There are lots of opportunities to get involved at University to help your future career prospects, and this is the best time to do it.

Secondly, just tell your family politely and in a non-aggressively-without-thrusting-barbeque-implements-down-their-throats way, that you do not in fact want to become a teacher, no matter what your chosen course may suggest, but instead want to become an astronaut (that should shut them up!) Seriously now, just have a chat with them/your doctor/lady in a shop/neighbour/whoever asks about your life and inform them there are other career paths available. The stereotypes surrounding English students are indeed woeful and potential professions majorly misunderstood. But, you must remember, if all else fails… there is always one career open to you!

Amy Wilcockson

Image credit: Jlhopgood via flickr 

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