Flavor Scientist might sound like something Willy Wonka would dream up, but there is a person out there doing that job right now. Her name is Elise Benstein, and she works for Jelly Belly Candy Company, but her story is only a small part of a larger mission. Roadtrip Nation, a career exploration organization, aims to show workers that they can have careers that really interest them, whether that’s picking jelly bean flavors or discovering a cure for cancer.
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“If we’re into music but we’d never succeed as a rock star because our singing sounds like a cat in labor, we’re not left with other options,” writes Alyssa Frank, managing editor of RoadtripNation.com, in The Huffington Post. “We’re told to major in something productive with promising salary projections because our parents (understandably) would rather we not live with them indefinitely in the room they’ve always wanted to turn into a gym. But we’re not told that we could get into music talent management, sound production or tour accounting — something that converges with our skills and affinities.”
The problem is that most of us don’t dream of growing up to do whatever the Bureau of Labor Statistics says will be an in-demand occupation 20 years after we start school. In an era where 20 percent of workers are “actively disengaged,” it’s worth asking whether the whole way we choose careers could use an overhaul.
That’s Roadtrip Nation’s theory, anyway. Their interview with Benstein is one of hundreds of videos on their site, each detailing a worker’s journey into a career that most counselor’s and college classes would never prepare students for. They also have an interactive tool on their site that aims to help students find a roadmap to a career that will actually make them happy.
The Do What You Love movement gets a lot of bad press, and rightfully so: not everyone has the privilege and opportunity necessary to live out their dreams, and there’s a danger of devaluing “unrewarding” labor while ignoring real class issues at play.
But if you have resources at your disposal and a certain amount of choice, it’s obviously better to like your job than to hate it. Roadtrip Nation reminds us that chasing hot occupations is not the path to job satisfaction; a career aligned with our interests and abilities just might be, however.
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