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The Dream Job Search

How long do you support an adult child  in search of  work that fulfills a passion?

dream jobI ran into an acquaintance whose daughter graduated from college last spring with a theater/writing major.  The daughter has moved back home and is looking for work.  But she won’t settle for what she calls a “cubicle job.” The bright lights of Broadway beckon, and this young woman is going to auditions with her parents’ blessing. “We told her to get out there, go out to every casting call, and we’ll support her for however long it takes,” her mom said.

Undoubtedly the recession makes it tough for any new grad, even those with professional or business degrees, to get hired.  But the “arts”—writing, acting, dance, painting—have always been hard to break into and sustain a decent living.  So what do you tell your twentysomething grad armed with an arts degree and $20,000 in college loans?  Beyond financial support how long do you remain emotionally supportive of an adult child who wants to direct films or cast sculptures as a career?

The options you might present to your wanna-be can be categorized:

a)      Pursue your dream and live at home endlessly

b)      You’ve got a (week, six months, a year) then you’re on your own

c)      Get a job, any job, and pound the pavements in your spare time

d)       Figure it out alone; I’m moving to a condo

Of course, to a large extent, these options depend on your own circumstances and attitude.  Another friend has a son who wants to break into computer animation for films.  He graduated from college with internships and a degree in the field but couldn’t find a fulltime job.   His parents told him his only option was C: living at home, bartending on the weekends, freelancing and looking for work   And he’s still doing that  four years later.

That’s brings us to yet another difficult question. No matter what the choice, at what point do you urge an adult child to consider an alternative career? No easy answers here, and most likely there will be many ongoing, perhaps tearful, heated discussions before any decisions are reached.

If it’s any conciliation, my graduate classes often include students who tried other careers for five or so years (including acting, film-making, fiction writing, teaching English in Tibet) and finally decided to return to school to get additional skills.

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