Do you remember the first time you were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You were probably five years old, some of you may have been older, others younger. You probably couldn’t even tell your left from your right yet some adult saw your cute snotty nose and your wide promising eyes and decided you were mature enough to know what you want to do with the rest of your life.
Now if you were one of the funny kids, you probably said something along the lines of wanting to be a vampire but if you were like me you probably said you didn’t want to grow up.
Our parents instill in us from a very young age that to be successful we should study hard, go to university and become someone great, like a doctor, a lawyer, maybe even a star athlete. The truth is not everyone can or wants to follow those career paths and what exactly defines greatness anyway.
The world could never have too many doctors and 2020 has done a great job showing us that. However, the current pandemic has more than proven that certain jobs we wouldn’t have even considered aspiring to be are actually the essential ones. The cashiers, janitors, teachers, artists, people that work in pharmacies and groceries…the jobs we usually neglect or take for granted are the ones currently saving us. It’s high time we stop talking about the popular jobs everyone clings to and give attention to the jobs we tend to overlook. But what exactly is the most overlooked job in the world?
To get the answer to this simple yet complicated question, I interviewed two people from different walks of life. Let’s take a look at what they had to say.
Deborah Nicholson, an English teacher at a high school in France.
As a teacher do you consider your job often overlooked?
“Well I like that you used the word often because it isn’t always overlooked. It depends on where you are. Here in France, we live in a society where everything is quantified, meaning if the salary is big people pay more attention to the job…and now that the teaching profession has accepted a lot more females, it is more seen as pocket change. To me, it is a societal issue. Jobs in the media and others with bigger salaries are the ones that get more attention.”
Have you ever thought about changing your profession due to it being underrated? And if so why?
“Well today a lot of young people entering the profession, when they see that it is not what they thought it was, right away, a lot of them change their minds and they go on to something else. I have been in this profession for 20 years now and I am heading towards retirement soon. A lot of people in my position hesitate to change because there is the stability aspect of the job. With the French system, there is job security — we can’t be fired. If I go on to something else I may have a lower salary that the one I have right now.”
Do you think people take teachers for granted?
“Umm…yes. And I would partly blame the government. We are one of the most underpaid professions in Europe. And in school, when students give trouble, they are exchanged with another similar student and to me that is not a solution. The same goes for teachers, if you are not performing well they simply place you in another school. When people see that, they discredit us.”
Would you say the pandemic has highlighted how necessary teachers are?
“It has… because parents were able to supervise their children having to hand in work and realize how difficult it is to stimulate their OWN children. I think a lot of parents give us a babysitting role…what they don’t want to do they give us to do. The pandemic has also shown us that we can do more online and it has shown how we can differentiate our teaching to suit students. Some need their teacher present but others are quite autonomous.”
Would you ever advise someone to be a teacher?
“Yes, if you are passionate and if you are not coming into the profession for money. And be prepared to work hard. A lot is demanded of us but you’re kind of like our own boss but at the same time it is hard.”
Damien Jedrasiak, freelance artist and illustrator.
This interview was conducted in French but English translations are available below.
Est-ce que vous pensez que l’art est suffisamment apprécié dans le monde du travail?
Beaucoup de personnes préfèrent faire des études de droit, médecine, etc. Je trouve que l’art n’est pas trop valorisé à l’école. Même dans le système scolaire, l’art est toujours le dernier choix…c’est clairement négligé.
Do you think art is valued enough in the working world?
A lot of people rather study law, medicine, etc. I think art isn’t valued enough at school. In the school system, art is usually the last choice… it really is neglected.
Pour beaucoup de gens l’art n’est qu’un passetemps coûteux, à votre avis pourquoi les gens ont tendance à ignorer l’art dans le monde professionnel ?
Les gens qui disent que l’art est une perte de temps… dans leur tête, c’est une perte d’argent. Ce n’est pas qu’ils croient que c’est du temps perdu mais que c’est potentiellement du temps perdu. Ils ont peut être peur de ne pas réussir alors ils n’essayent pas et décident de choisir la voie classique comme le droit ou la médecine.
Many people only see art as an expensive hobby, in your opinion, why do people usually ignore art when it comes to professions?
People that say it’s a waste of time… in their heads they are losing money. It’s not that they think it’s a waste of time but that it’s a POTENTIAL waste of time. They are scared of not succeeding so they don’t try at all and decide to do something that would work out for them, for example, studying law or medicine.
Est-ce vous avez déjà considéré changer de profession parce qu’elle est négligé ?
Non, du tout non. Parce que c’est à nous les artistes de valoriser la profession, pas la société. Chaque jour, je pratique ma passion, c’est moi qui la valorise.
Have you ever considered changing your profession because it is overlooked?
No, not at all because it’s up to us the artists to value our job, not the society. Every day, I do what I’m passionate about and to me that’s what counts.
So there you go folks, the world’s most overlooked job is… It depends. This global health crisis has highlighted the jobs we usually take for granted. Some industries have seen a boost in production and sales again as people have shifted their needs and interests and working from home has been an eye-opening experience for some folks. But most of all, this pandemic has shown how certain jobs actually define our everyday life without us even taking them into account at all. Bakers, baristas,(you missed that morning coffee, didn’t you?), hairdressers, social workers, teachers, artists, etc.
A question such as “What is the world’s most overlooked job?” is quite subjective in nature. The real question should be… How can we change our attitude towards people with these so-called “overlooked” jobs, and when this health crisis is dealt with and gone, do we go back to normal?
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” — Maya Angelou
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