Unconventional Careers – The Road Less Taken


In this day and age pursuing an unconventional career should not be a taboo, but the systems in place around us are not yet as accommodating as we’d like them to be. Devika Soni wonders why

Imagine a box labelled ‘Safe’. Peek inside and you will see doctors, engineers, lawyers and other conventional careers. Outside the box would be those quirky jobs like hairstyling, tattooing, DJing, pet grooming, massaging, bartending, etc. These are evolving careers, still trying to find a place in a workforce that is saturated with doctors, teachers and lawyers. In the future, these unconventional jobs will settle in just fine, but for now, when they are still struggling to make a niche, it is important for the pursuer to know the dark side of these out-of-the-box careers.

A doctor, lawyer and engineer have been a part of society since man started to settle down. The demand from these careers has been unwavering all along. We know a great deal about these existing options, these well-established fields. From the coursework to the qualifications, the institutes to the remuneration, everything is out there for us to see. These little things make these careers a safe option.

The road less taken remains an unchartered territory due to a number of reasons.

Formal training and education: Fields like medicine and banking have well-known institutes spread all over the country and abroad, but not enough institutes teach something offbeat, say, tattooing. When we students look at the options available to us in college, we find them to be rather limiting. For those of us who harbour dreams of being a photographer, what do we study? Should we study at all? Does our education matter? Our education system is still in the nascent stage of providing adequate courses and training for such fields of study.

Employment: We have options of working in banks, firms, hospitals, schools, all served on a silver platter. An upcoming career has limited options for employment, for instance, there are only a handful of well-known names in hairstyling. New brands do emerge every now and then but they are owned by people who are self-employed. We not only have to employ ourselves but constantly look out for competition too. Such is the case with tattooing as well. “It takes you a long time to establish yourself. If you do good work, then you get word-of-mouth publicity and gradually become famous. Until then, you have to publicise your works through social networking sites,” says Abhishaik Madhur of Indelible Tattoos in New Delhi.

Remuneration: One of the biggest benefits of these upcoming careers is the pay they offer. But how constant is this pay? “The pay is quite seasonal,” says Natasha Nasta of Juice hair salon, Mumbai. Sometimes it might bring a lot of money but other times one might have to face financial drought.

Parental support: “Initially my family was sceptical and thought [hairstyling] was a waste of time,” says Nasta. These statements are heard in most households when someone announces their wish to pursue an unusual career. Under the pretext of wanting the best for their children, the parents tend to not offer their support for jobs that fall outside the box, which then makes it very difficult for us to follow our dreams.

Society: If jobs were toys, our society would be that kid who put the usual ones inside and discarded the ones that remain outside. Whether one likes it or not society has a strong opinion on everything. It’s a usual scene at gatherings – people ask whether you want to be a doctor or an engineer; they don’t even think about you being a chef or a scriptwriter in their wildest fantasy. The minute you say you would like to become a painter or actor they make your journey all the more difficult. They might not even appreciate an individual after he/she is successful in their field simply because it does not fit in their box. Society cannot decide what one chooses to become, but it is instrumental in allowing someone to achieve their goal.

Even though these quirky jobs have a lot of cons attached to them, they are somebody’s dream and aspirations. Sure, these conventional careers make life comfortable and secure, but if we don’t chase our dreams to become a DJ or a photographer, what will we live for?

Evolving careers are still trying to find a place in a workforce that is saturated with doctors, teachers and lawyers. Creative fields were considered undesirable due to the impractical reputation it had. But the times are slowly changing, and so is the generation that thought out of the box and, voila! Made a career out of it. Some of these revolutionaries are:

• Adhuna Akhtar, Jawed Habib, Hakim Alim (Hairstylist)
• Sameer Patange, Eric Jason (Tattoo Artist)
• Aqeel Ali, Nikhil Chinapa (DJ)
• Irene James, (Pet Groomer)
• Devender Seghal, Ami Behram Shroff (Bartender)


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