1) A picture book from my childhood. What Do People Do All Day? Its pages filled with pictures of builders, bakers and, presumably, candlestick makers.
2) The Mobile Library. Once a week, in the car park of the local recreation ground. Faded green tickets. A pile of books. The sensation of butterflies as my eyes darted from books about sharks and castles to thicker, mustier novels about spies.
3) The Morrisby Test. Taken at school. Question after question, resulting in a list of suggestions for potential careers. So you like books? You could go on to be a librarian.
4) The Penguin Careers Guide. Richard Scarry for grown-ups. More options, more choices, more butterflies.
“When I Grow Up…”
I remember telling a careers officer at my secondary school that I was considering going into broadcasting. The advice? It is very competitive, apparently. Perhaps I should have asked which jobs were massively uncompetitive and we could have chatted about why that was.
Before that, when I was a little boy, I wanted to be a dustman. Yes, I binned that idea. However it does still appeal.
A few years later, I considered architecture although I don’t remember why. Maybe my short attention span meant that I could only (p-p-p) pick up the Penguin for a few minutes at a time.
Then it was Barrister (a few more minutes, I suppose). Because I watched (to my parents’ surprise, in my early teens) A Fish Called Wanda, starring John Cleese as Archie Leach. His performance, aided perhaps by Jamie Lee Curtis, prompted several visits to the public gallery of the Old Bailey in the years to come, watching… thinking.
Some people are fortunate enough to have family or friends in a wide range of careers. They can meet them, quiz them, wonder what it would be like to do what they do. For many, this is not possible.
Even today, I haven’t the faintest idea what a vast number of ‘jobs’ actually entail, day-to-day.
A Careers Library, stocked with people instead of books.
The Alternative Careers Library
From A-Z – Architect to Zoologist.
Visitors could browse the shelves, and ‘borrow’ a ‘person’, for a ten minute chat.
In busier times, the ‘books’ would give short talks to small groups.
All around the library, and at each ‘letter’ would be information, on posters and short films, explaining what their particular career is all about, and where to find more information.
Sponsors could be found for the whole project, or for individual letters. Engineering, for example.
This Careers Library would have a website.
On the ground, it could exist as a one-off, for several weeks, or even go on tour.
Perhaps it could exist somewhere forever.
A real, permanent library. Why not?
I would have loved this as a child. I would love to visit it today.
The guests would volunteer their time.
Visitors could read about examples from each career, listing why certain people love that job and (brace yourself), why they don’t. The parties are great? The hours are long and anti-social?
Living Libraries have existed before. Take this brilliant example, the Human Library, started in 2000.
You can imagine how an empty space could be found. I cannot imagine that recruiting volunteers would be, in the overall scheme, too difficult. And wouldn’t schools and parents be interested in a visit?
I CAN imagine, how this idea could get bogged down by clever-trevors, know-alls, “seen it alls”, naysayers, bores and pedants. People who should stick to writing.
What would make this idea fly? What might the magic ingredients be?
How can it be made irresistible, remarkable, unforgettable?
Do you know someone who might volunteer to feature in the Alternative Careers Library? Which one?
Or a potential sponsor or partner?
Why would they like this and what might be in it for them?
What DO people do all day?
Shall we find out?