15 January 2016

Los Angeles IPP: Life’s Calling

If you’re anything like me, the title of this blog post induced thoughts of career aspirations and the age old question of what do I want to be? However, you might have read this another way. You might have read: Life is calling. Hopefully, you will find that this post addresses both interpretations.
Having been to Los Angeles in the past with my family and spent a gap year travelling, I applied for this program with the characteristically pragmatic objective of narrowing down my future career options. Now, following a brief stint in Texas with a friend from Sydney and New Year’s Eve with fellow Industry Placement Program (IPP) students in San Francisco, it was time to start this journey. The journey towards my life’s calling. A little melodramatic, I know, but I am in Hollywood after all.

Things started innocuously enough. We, the LA IPP students, met for dinner at a local pizza place and bonded over our travel experiences so far in the states. It was the following day when things got interesting. After a campus tour of UCLA, which is remarkable by the way, we had our orientation dinner. This was of a much more formal nature with our new teachers and many of our soon to be employers. During the dinner we were asked to stand up and briefly introduce ourselves. The tone of these introductions was set when the first speaker stated what had led him to apply for the program.

To my surprise, as we moved from table to table, it became apparent that just about everyone had applied for the same reason: to figure out what they wanted to do. This is not to say that other aspects of the program were overlooked – studying at UCLA, cross-country road trips, and experiencing American culture – but it was clear what was front and centre (not center!) in everyone’s mind.

It was this realisation that caused me to wonder, is our unanimous concern for finding that perfect career simply a by-product of our demography. I think it is fair to say that our generation, Gen Y or Millennials as we have come to be known, feel that we are entitled to a career that we love. I apologise for generalising a bit here, but it seems to me that millennials yearn for a career that not only causes us to get out of bed in the morning, but do so bright-eyed and bushy tailed.
This is in stark contrast to as little as two generations ago, when concerns revolved largely around job stability, leading people to choose their careers early and stick to them. 

Perhaps we millennials are naïve to expect to work in jobs that we love or even like for that matter. However, I’m not quite convinced that this is the case. The very fact that a bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings are spending the next two months working in Los Angeles goes to show the extent of the opportunities available.

This brings me back to my musings on the title of this blog post. With so many opportunities out there, it seems ridiculous to think that there’s just one right direction to head in. So maybe our unswerving focus on working out exactly what we want to do is unreasonable. Maybe there is some middle ground to be gained between how older generations viewed their career choices and how we have come to view them. If there is, I can’t help but think that the best way to find it is by embracing life as it comes. By all means, head in a particular direction, but do so with a willingness to jump at opportunities as they arise. 

With that said, I hope that over the next couple of months myself and my peers are able to stop agonising over finding our life’s calling, recognising that we’re only in LA a short while and life is calling.  

Jackson Dibble
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the Industry Placement Program in Los Angeles

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