These days the internet is full of motivational quotes that are supposed to help you live better; “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” for example, is a Pinterest staple. But how do you go about choosing a job you love? The reality is that all jobs, even ‘dream jobs’ involve work, to imagine they don’t is incredibly naive. The important thing is to find a job that involves an acceptable balance between the stuff that really makes you tick and the more mundane side of things. Recently it feels like this balance has been overlooked, and too many people end up in jobs that are 90% yawnsville and only 10% job satisfaction, which is the opposite of how it should be. Occupy Me is about taking back control of our lives and refusing to just settle for occupations that don’t fulfil our potential.
The Occupy movement that spread around the world in the last few years brought to light a banking system that wasn’t working. Similarly, we think the careers advice system that’s in place, particularly for women, just isn’t doing the job. We’ve spoken to young women from a range of backgrounds; private schools, state schools and further education, and their experiences of career guidance have been pretty depressing. For too long, bright, young girls have been ushered into certain careers because of their gender and left out of opportunities in fields like Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. And it’s not just the education system that’s to blame; as well meaning as they may be, parents are more likely to encourage their daughters to go into safe, secure jobs rather than setting up their own business or creating an unconventional career for themselves, whereas young men are readily encouraged to take risks and dream up their own job titles. Some of this is related to a deep-rooted sexism that still exists in our culture, where we give greater value to male industries than we do to those dominated by women. A woman wanting to set up her own jewellery business will undoubtedly be met with criticism by those who think fashion is a girly, frivolous pursuit, whilst a man launching a tech start-up company is likely to be taken much more seriously. Which is ridiculous when you look at the statistics; fashion is a billion dollar industry that has shaped our culture throughout history, and continues to do so. Why it’s not taken as seriously as the other arts is down to its female focus. Nigella Lawson once said about cooking; “I feel that to denigrate any activity because it has traditionally been associated with the female sphere is in itself anti-feminist.”
So here on Occupy Me, we aim to present a balanced and authentic depiction of the reality behind the sort of jobs you won’t get taught about at school. We’re just as likely to feature a black hole scientist as we are a florist, because both should be professions anyone can pursue, irrespective of their gender. We’re also here to inspire you, whatever your age, whether you’re 16 and considering staying in school or leaving to do an apprenticeship, or you’re 40 and have realised the career path you took hasn’t led you exactly where you wanted to go.
We spend so much of our lives working and as we live longer and retire later, this is only going to increase. There are new jobs emerging all the time that you might be semi-qualified for without even knowing it; are you great at social media, for example? That’s a job. Or maybe you don’t want to just focus on one thing- the internet has been incredible for allowing people to learn and experiment in all sorts of fields without having to dedicate themselves to one, expensive degree or course that means they then feel obliged to stick with it. Many of the women we feature have had many jobs over the years or do work that defies one single job title.
So to finish with another of those motivational quotes, but one we wholeheartedly agree with; “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
Thanks to Alice Gabb for all the hand drawn artwork on the site.