Wednesday, 13 March 2013

If you knew you were going to live to 100...

On the radio the other night I caught part of a non-serious conversation that went something like... "What would you do with your life if you knew for certain that you would live to 100 years old?". This is probably also assuming that you're in fine fettle and with the programme and then you just drop dead. Certainly living and working till 100 gives you a lot productive time than retiring at 65. You could retire at 80 or 90 instead.

I thought it was actually quite a neat notion. One guy called in. He said he was currently 35 and if he was going to live to 100 he'd go to medical school now, spend the next seven years becoming a doctor, which would take him to 42 and then he'd have the next 40+ years still to be a doctor.

Sure, the trend is certainly for us to have more than one career and that people change jobs more frequently in the past. But it isn't very practical (nor financially viable) to make a drastic change, like going from a programmer, for example, to a doctor. Not many people rolling in enough money to quit their job to study full time (for seven years), to become a doctor. Yet what wonderful doctors they would certainly become.

I've always thought that medicine should be a more 'mature' occupation - same with teaching. If you only start studying medicine from age 25 (or older), it probably means that you really want to be there; not that is is 'the' profession for you because you got 6 As in matric... You can do a science degree first, do some travelling, do some working and then go in for the long haul.

Occupations - and the changing thereof - are never far from my mind because I thrive on change and variety. The four at the top of my list would be forensics, medicine, teaching and geology (volcanoes and glaciers specifically) - in no specific order.

Forensics - in the days before CSI (and mobile phones), I had a very, very keen interest in forensic entomology, blood splatter patterns and body decomposition. For my Honours studies I tried to wangle an arrangement to do one of my projects at medical school, which is where I ended up (not for medicine though), and the other in Pretoria with Prof David Klatzow in forensics. The logisitics of a split between two universities and the JHB/PTA split (I didn't have a car) made logistics impossible. I stayed at medical school in the Anatomical Science Dept for Honours and Masters (aborted later once I got my hands on adventure racing...).

Medicine - I applied after school but didn't get in. I'd also applied for science and did get in. They were essentially both first choices yet every year I'd consider whether to apply for med. I figured it was better to get my degree first and then decide. And then I went into Honours and then Masters and really enjoyed both science and teaching. And then I got out of the whole lot. I've often thought about medicine but it hasn't had a strong enough pull to see me in for seven years. I'd like to be an adventure expedition doctor.

Teaching - I got my first taste of teaching in my Honours year when I started tutoring histology pracs. The next year I got a part-time lecture position and was teaching 2nd year science students as well as continuing with the pracs for med students and allied medical discipline (pharmacy, physio etc) students. I loved it! I've continued with some or other form of teaching since; navigation courses, pole dancing, orienteering coaching... I do really, really enjoy teaching.

Geology - I'd like a job that has me outdoors and visiting cool destinations. I like volcanoes and glaciers. That sorts out a lot of great locations and I do find both quite fascinating.

I guess you don't have to live to 100 to have a second career (or third). You probably need a good 10 to 15 years for each - say three to five to study and a good 10 to work in that field before you change again, if you want to.

If I said to you, "I'll cover your studying and living expenses for your second career", what would you choose to do?

There's an article on Forbes on "Planning for a second career".

The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has a programme called "Second Career".
"Second Career provides laid-off workers with skills training to help them find jobs in high-demand occupations in Ontario and financial support. Second Career is a cost-sharing grant provided on the basis of need, so you may be asked to contribute what you can to your training or education. Second Career provides up to $28,000 for tuition, books, other instruction costs such as manuals or workbooks, transportation and a basic living allowance."
Anything like this in SA?


Unknown said...

Theres an amazing stat on how many babies born this year will live to100. Cant remember the number/percentage, but it was v high. Retiring at 65 isnt sustainable for an economy. And hey the pope just got the job at 76!

adventurelisa said...

Ian, yes, I think this must be how the topic started on the radio. Only thing I wonder is what kind of health will they be in at 100? Presumably good? No point in living to 100 if Elvis leaves the building when you're 85 and you're bed ridden by 90?

adventurelisa said...

Another friend dropped me an email in response to this post. She writes:

"I could see you as all. It was also my dream to do medicine but alas, sex, drugs and rock n' roll took hold.

Now, I'd love to be a profressor of English, or, more accurately, forensic linguistics (plagiarism, suicide notes, ransoms, psychological profiling through writing...). Forensics is such an amazing field."

Unknown said...

Lisa, I had the same thoughts about a Forensic career then I did a couple of week stint in the Forensic Lab in BSAP in Harare. I think I spent most of a week using cello tape to remove any trace of evidence from a large carpet. Certainly cured me of the glamorous side, although in those days Quicy was the hero not CSI. Later they moved me to assist with the blood analysis using a computer based analysis. That was really cool and got me interested in computer programming which I went into two years later.