Biways and highways

I’ve never tried to get a job based on my university degree. I guess I really bought into the line I was told repeatedly through my post-secondary education: A bachelor of arts is useless unless you continue on in academia. So I tried that: Got all into my role as a brainy hot-shot, wrote an honours thesis, and applied to the top two grad programs (for my field) in the country. After being turned down by both, I went to trades school, worked at a construction site, got laid off, and worked at a farm. Add in some whining, and you’ve got a pretty good summary of my career thus far.

My excellent friend S was also a geography student at the university, though she stuck with the science part of the discipline. After graduating, she spent years working as a kayak guide way up at the north end of the island. Earlier this summer I was surprised to hear that she’d moved to a nearby city, and landed what sounds to be a super-cool job as an assistant coordinator of the city’s upcoming curbside compost pick-up program. I love compost, and I love coordinating stuff, so I had to know exactly how she got this position. It turns out that she heard about it from our old geography department’s student e-newsletter, which is legendary for its size and regularity. “And then?” I asked her. “Why did they hire you?”

An undergraduate degree in geography.

It just never occurred to me.

Now, however, I’m thinking of it a great deal, because my job at the farm ends tomorrow, and I’m needing to line up a new way of earning a living.

Of course, I’m still on the electrical union’s job list, but I haven’t had a call in over a month. Still, it’s nice to know that I could always do a trades job. Now, however, after having taken space to reflect on my experiences at trade school and on the construction site, I’ve decided to consider that to be my back-up: The employment I will take when I can’t find anything more interesting, more inspiring, more well-paying.

The crazy thing is, I think I’ve found something that is all three of those things, and though I found it by talking to a lot of people about sustainable energy systems, it’s actually a job that has more to do with my geography degree than anything else. There’s this consulting firm in town working on asset-management for water systems throughout the province, and they need someone to assist with their work. It would be a lot of talking on the phone and making spreadsheets and researching services and funding options, but there you have it: A professional sort of position, which actually helps people, and fits in with all the urban planning and resource management stuff I studied throughout all those years of post-secondary education. Who’d have thought?

Not this geographer, that’s for sure.

As for highways, they are calling. I’m spending the next 6 days packing up and cleaning our apartment, and then in exactly one week, will be piling into the car with Oats and Mo for our first ever cross-country road trip. We’re doing our annual visit with the parents in Southern Ontario, this time driving, in order to ensure that we get to have a little bit of quality alone time with one another. My mother asserts that it is crazy, because we’ll be exhausted from all that time in car, but I think we’ll have fun. We’re going to take the route through the Northern US, to save time and money on gas, and for the extra adventure of a quote-unquote foreign land. Which is, of course, my mom’s second concern: That we’ll become the next victims of some homophobes’ horrific attack. Well, should we stay at home then? And do you really think that we’d be any safer driving through Canada?

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One response to “Biways and highways

  1. WOW! I am so flattered to be mentioned! I’d also say that applying to jobs that sound too cool for you to get is definitely part of the process – as a fine mentor said: “Apply for everything that sounds appealing; what’s the worst that could happen? Hurt pride? Actual success?”. She has a point, eh? Hugs to you and Oats! I hope the trip is AMAZING!

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