other than being asked what my religion is, another question that always leaves me thinking “what does it matter to you?” is: what did you study? referring, of course, to what i studied in college or university. some questions are even more specific, what academic title(s) do i have?
yes, i get that a lot, in here and in my home country. when asked here, in Finland, it’s even harder for me to answer because i don’t even think the subject exists in universities here (i haven’t done any research though, since i have no interest in working in that field here). but just for the record, as i’ve said before, currently i work in a field that needs customer service skills, sales skills, and also deep knowledge in textiles.
most of the time i get this kind of question while i’m at work. as this country has the best education in the world (say the surveys from around the world), i’m not that surprised that people want to know where other people went to school or what they studied. most people i know here love going to schools. some of them enroll to university after university every time they finish their previous studies. it’s like there’s no end to their thirst of studying.
i’ve been using the word “them” and not “we”, because i guess i don’t belong in the same category. i love learning new things as well, and there is also no end to my thirst of studying. but i don’t necessarily think universities, colleges, or schools are the only places i can study the things i want to study. academic titles have never been that important to me, and i’m happy with what knowledge i have so far that can get me my current job.
with no academic title but excellent skills, you can get pretty far in my home country. but the bad news is, for people like me, it would be hard to find a job in a place like Finland. i don’t mean just any job, of course, but the ones that you probably have eyes on. for example, even though i have no degrees in fashion, i was once a fashion stylist/editor for a local magazine back in my home country. after i moved here, when i was still learning Finnish language, i tried my luck to be a part of the design team in Marimekko. thinking back now, i must’ve been out of my mind to even think i would stand a chance. i’m pretty sure they threw my CV and portfolio straight to the garbage bin. :p
through a twist of luck (i’m pretty sure that was the only reason), i managed to land a job at my current workplace. well okay, maybe my history of running my own fashion boutique back in Indonesia also played a tiny role, in the sense that i knew about textiles, customer service, and sales well enough, regardless of whether or not i actually have any degree in any of those fields.
though i’m still quite far from my dream (which is to have my own fashion store), but i’m forever grateful for this rare chance my previous boss gave me. by doing this daily job, i learn more and more about the things i am most passionate about, the things that would prepare me in the best way for when i can finally run my dream store in the future.
anyway, to be fair, in Finland those people who asked me where or what i studied were mainly curious because they wanted to know what they should study in order to land a job at my workplace. and i could never answer them properly, because i always felt that i’m an exception, since A: i didn’t go to school in Finland, and B: …okay, here’s the truth, i actually studied Advertising back in my home country. Advertising, as in the Communication field, NOT Graphic Design (though i did also learn a bit of Graphic Design there). whereas my co-workers have always been those who studied textile design, fashion design, business, and handicraft, among others. plus, as i said before, i don’t actually have any academic title, because i took a 3 year diploma program (though it did take place at a university). to get an academic title, i would’ve had to take another year of studying, but i decided not to and jumped right into the working life.
comparing my home country and Finland, i can’t deny that i wish things were a bit different, both there and here. i wish it was less strict here, that people don’t necessarily have to have certain degrees or academic title to get a job, as long as the job in question doesn’t involve people’s life or death, of course (as in doctors or other paramedic fields), or academic teaching. jobs that require creative ideas or designs might work for those with no academical background as long as they can prove that they have it in them. but on the other hand, i wish that it was a bit more strict in Indonesia, that not just anybody can end up being an English teacher (who can’t even pronounce the word “umbrella” correctly –> my English teacher in middle school), a translator (who translated “toilet paper” as “kertas amplas” which means “sandpaper”. ouch), and let’s not even mention the political jobs.
i guess both countries can learn a bit from the other one. if you’re like me, and have no title, don’t worry. you’ll do fine in life!
and i hope one day i have the right answer when someone asks me that question again. opiskelin mainonta, työskennelin muotitoimittajana vähäksi aikaan, olin myös freelance romaanin kääntäjä ja mitäsköhän muuta. :p