Az alábbiakban a “Mi leszel ha nagy leszel” sorozatunk első epizódjának angol nyelvű fordítását közöljük.
Below is the English translation of the first episode of our “What will you be when you grow up?” podcast series.
What will you be when you grow up?
Jazz guitarist, digital marketer, dental technician, university student or wildlife shepherd? This paraphrase is a good way to understand that since Attila József wrote his famous lines in the Altató, the professions and further education opportunities have changed completely in nearly a century since then.
What are you going to be when you grow up? – we have often been asked or asked the question to others or ourselves. Perhaps mainly because – beyond curiosity – the profession, the job, the occupation is an inalienable and defining part of so-called adult life. There are many rituals and customs associated with it. A very important and inevitable change and transformation that we all go through.
This mini-series is designed to help you understand this transition, ask for useful advice and give you a new perspective, with personal stories and with the help of an expert.
I’m Tamás Jamriskó, and this is the programme of the First University Radio of Pest. Join me if you and your children care about the future, happiness, and prosperity.
Young people’s well-being and pathfinding are now increasingly addressed, because it is both worthwhile and necessary, especially after the COVID pandemic. Looking back a little earlier, an excellent volume of professional studies was published in 2007 by the Association for Higher Education Counselling. It is entitled: Problems, pathfinding, and career development of young people in higher education at the beginning of the 21st century in Hungary.
In the text, Fruzsina Lukács highlights that young people fall into four types of career insecurity: decisive, direction-seeking, anxious and chronically insecure. More people fall into the latter two than the first two.
In the same volume, Tünde Horváth deals with the issue of “gate-opening panic” in higher education, where we can see that the main areas of panic include high levels of uncertainty, anxiety, false expectations, and stress. It also highlights that the levels of uncertainty and stress are high at the beginning of university years, then decrease, but increase again as the studies are nearing completion.
This comes from the many challenges and uncertainties students face as fresh graduates, and the increased stress they experience close to graduation due to the pressure of their own and society’s expectations, lack of concrete labour-market knowledge and a higher degree of idealism.
But what about primary school pupils? After all, high school and secondary school are the precursors to university, but for those who do not want to go on to higher education, how do they plan for the future?
In 2021, more than nine thousand graduating students were surveyed in a research commissioned by the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The answers were:
Most of the students plan to go to a vocational school. A total of 54% want to study at a vocational secondary school, technical school, or vocational college. Nearly 36% want to continue their studies in a secondary school, 9% did not know the answer and only 0.5% did not want to continue their studies in a secondary school. The survey also asked what activities students would like to do in the future, with 26% wanting to do sports, 24% automotive and creative arts, 23% IT and the same number wanting to do gastronomy.
We also looked at the mental and practical issues involved in choosing a career. Stay tuned!
First, meet Petra, Levi, and Grace, with whom we talked about their further education, family expectations and what they think success looks like.
I’m going to start an adult education course in Szombathely from September, in a dental technician course, and the answer to the question whether I wanted to do this is no.
I started my ninth year in a vocational high school, I studied catering for 4 years and in ninth grade I was planning to finish it, get a diploma at the end of the 4 years and a waitressing profession, and I wanted to go to a university of catering or business, but then during the 4 years I realised that it wasn’t really for me and I didn’t like it, I didn’t feel comfortable with it, but I did it for the graduation and at least I have an extra paper if anything happens, I’d rather go that way.
Then, at the beginning of 12th grade, I started to think about where to go and what to do, if catering wasn’t enough, and at the beginning of the year I decided that I wanted to go to the University of Budapest to study architecture, so I started a pre-recruitment course at the beginning of the year, which was basically a drawing class on Fridays and Saturdays.
I started this by obviously talking to my parents that this would be the plan, and at that time dental technology was also a plan, but then architecture was even more in the plan, and my dad and I agreed that I should definitely start this prep course, because if I go to university, it’s great, because they will prepare me for the entrance exam and for university. And if not, then it’s also really useful for the dental technician course, because I’m expanding my drawing skills, my spatial vision, and my manual dexterity is also really good for the dental technique.
So that’s what we agreed on, and I did this preparatory course until the end of the school year, quite intensively, because I was there on Fridays until 11 pm after school, and on Saturdays from 9 am until 8 pm. So, it took a lot of time and energy, it was really quite intensive, because our teacher really created an atmosphere that was a bit like being at university, or he gave us tasks and lectures about our projects and our work.
So, I really got into it and I didn’t feel like it was my path there either, so it was a lot of suffering, but I finally realized that it wasn’t… it wasn’t good either. So, I gave it up, I concentrated on my final exams and the end of the year exams, I mean the vocational exams in catering, and I was left with this dental technician path. I didn’t have to do much else besides this drawing, and the only thing I had to do for admission was to get my diploma, because that’s all you need for adult education. So, there I just went for it, so that was good.
The Liszt Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, I think it’s called the Liszt Academy of Music, or at least in common speech it’s always called the Liszt Academy of Music, obviously a university and it has university level education, but it’s stuck on the name, the Liszt Academy of Music. I’ve got accepted into the jazz guitar teacher course. I wasn’t really planning to go to university, but now that the time had come and since it was free to apply, I thought it was worth a try.
I put this jazz guitar teacher course in first place. Second place I put ELTE, maybe art teacher, music vocal teacher/mathematics teacher, but that was more just to do something with myself, but then I realised that I definitely didn’t want to go here. So, I didn’t even pay the admission fee. I also applied for a third place at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, I think maybe as a music theory teacher, but I didn’t go there either, and as I looked on felvi.hu today, that course didn’t even start.
Well, actually, it influenced my decision so much that before Kőbánya I didn’t play jazz. Obviously, there were one or two times when I had to play more “jazzy” songs and standards, but I wasn’t so much captivated by this world, and here in Kőbánya, this school is not about jazz either, it’s more about pop music/rock music and fusion and crazy stuff like that, but I was introduced to jazz in a way that made me interested enough to want to continue.
That’s one thing, and the other is that I don’t really know in Hungary… I don’t know of any other place where you can go explicitly. Obviously, next year there will be this Póka Egon University, and now there is this Debrecen University of Salon Music, but I think that’s also starting now, the first semester or first year. Some people I know have applied; I don’t know if they were accepted in the end, but I’ll ask around. I don’t really have any experience of this school, I mean Debrecen, but I don’t have any experience of Liszt Ferenc either. I’ve heard 1-2 things about it, hot and cold, all over the place. Actually, I don’t know any better than to go and see what it can provide and what I can take home from it.
Yeah, so nice to meet you guys, I’m Grace and I’m a Chinese girl who currently studies in Budapest, Hungary, and I just got my diploma in International Business Economics, and I will continue to study for my master’s degree in digital marketing, but I will move to Amsterdam, so these are the conditions of my education. I’m in my twenties…
Yeah, so just to sum it up again: I was admitted to the University of Amsterdam for their master’s programme, which is Business Administration for the Digital Marketing track and it’s a self-funded programme, I did not win the scholarship.
Yeah, to be honest it’s one of my favourites of all the programmes I applied for either… Yeah, so this was exactly the first major I chose and luckily got actually admitted to… The University of Amsterdam (the University I chose), and the programme, digital marketing, so I can say that I was lucky.
Because I’m quite interested in the marketing field, and now it is a digital world, so I prefer something concerned with data and analytical things, and I’m quite interested in the impact of digitalisation in the business environment, and the marketing process and how the data can tell the business managers how to operate their strategies and how to turn their business model to the new setup.
Yeah, I had two other options, like one is in the field of business management and technology, and the other only focuses on the broad marketing view. For the business management and technology my previous bachelor studies were not enough, so I did not choose this direction. With the broad marketing view, I’d like to focus more on the smaller tracks, like the digital type.
Yeah, I do apply for the same university where I had my bachelor’s, Corvinus, and I also won the scholarship for this programme, masters of marketing, but ranking the universities I chose Amsterdam.
What expectations did your parents and family have when you started the recruitment process? What do you think, was there pressure and if so, what kind of pressure?
I can safely say that I don’t think either of us, my sister or I, had any kind of pressure about where to go to further education, what level of what… My sister also started university and then she changed, so there’s no pressure on us at all.
The only thing is that when I started that pre-recruitment training, my father and I agreed that it would take at least three or four months, I don’t know what we agreed on, but the deal was that I shouldn’t say no after one month, because on one hand it’s a waste of money, a waste of time, but if I’m already involved in the thing for three or four months, then I can obviously think better about what and how.
So for example, there was no pressure at all to go to a university, so I didn’t go, even though my sister is in medical school, I didn’t get the pressure to go to medical school or law school or anything, I think whatever I would have chosen, my mum and dad would have supported me, so I’m happy with that.
Well, I don’t think they had any particular expectation, because I figured out at a relatively young age that I certainly didn’t want to go to university, because…
I think that maybe in the sixth grade, so after six, six or seven years of studying, I figured out that I definitely didn’t want to study for twenty-something years, and then as I grew up, obviously that changed in me, and I realised that you’re actually studying forever, and you don’t necessarily have to go to university and stuff like that.
But, yeah, so my parents had about given up on me going to university, and they saw that I was someone who was good at the things I wanted to do. If I don’t give a shit about something, I can do it as much as I must, but it won’t lead to any progress, and so they saw relatively quickly that I actually choose the profession instead of the profession choosing me, as it can happen the other way round for some people, and so they saw that it’s music that I really like and so they started to push me in this direction, that I should go to a teacher, that I should do it the way I like it, that I should have an instrument to practice, and obviously a lot of money and energy that my parents have invested in me over the years, so it wasn’t like “it was in my blood and then suddenly I was accepted to the Academy of Music”, but it was and is and will be obviously many years’ worth of hard work.
I think I didn’t feel so much pressure from my family or my parents, but I felt pressure from my peers, like my friends, because they are all hardworking students and their majors kind of influenced me a lot, but they are focused more on scientific majors like computer science or like computer engineering, but I’m not so good in that stuff so I chose some kind of major that is more Venetian with art and Scientifics parts, like digital marketing kind of like more business but some of the data driven parts.
Two major points were important to my parents, like, one is that my future school should have a good ranking and good reputation and strong professional resources, and the second one is to choose a major that I am really motivated in and it is better to have a major that is highly rated in the job market, so it’s kind of like… yeah… Mhm, these rules supported all my educations and also my career life.
Do you have a family profession, and if so, did you feel any pressure to continue it?
Well, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we have a family profession now, my dad is a dental technician, my sister is studying to be a dentist with three years to go, and my mum was a dental assistant and now works in a dental shop, so you could say we have, but still…
Well, I’m a little bit sure, I mean, maybe that’s why I feel more comfortable with this than my previous choices, but actually… I don’t know. It wasn’t like they told me to go this way, now obviously, that’s how I could figure out that dental technique was my path, because I’ve also seen a little bit into this, because when I was little I was there with my dad at work several times, if, say, I don’t know, my mom was out of town and my dad would take care of us, or I don’t know, I went there after school… So, there were several times like that, and that’s why as a little kid I could see “what they were doing”, obviously I didn’t really understand it then, and I don’t fully understand it now, because I’m just starting, but I had an insight into it, and I liked the environment there, and I like it now.
Well, it’s not really a family profession, but music is in the family, because my aunt is a singer, she used to sing in the opera, and my grandfather, he was a violinist, but he had to give up the violin, because of physical problems, obviously, with the posture and the violin, the… So your hands are so high up, the joints can get blocked, and there’s a family history of blood clotting problems, which is hereditary, so obviously that’s why he had to stop playing music, but yes, my grandmother really pushed me to play music from a very young age, so I think she was the first one to enroll me in music school when I was in second grade.
They pushed me, but basically they always left it up to me to do what I wanted to do, because they found out that… They knew that you shouldn’t be confined, because you can be the best at what you like to do and what you like to spend your time doing.
But obviously I could make a living as an IT guy, I could go into IT, I’d just probably hate my whole life. But let’s say my brother turned out to be a perfect IT guy, so we’re different and I think my parents were perfectly fine with that, to each his own.
I think we have no family profession, as my parents are freelancers and they run their own business, so I think they hope that my future career would be more stable especially in the Cornvin period it felt like doing business on their own is not so easy, so they prefer to have a more stable job especially for me, it could provide a more economical security for myself and consistent opportunities for my career goals as well.
What feedback did you get from your close friends and family after you found out where you were accepted to study?
Well, I think it’s mixed, my dad was obviously happy about it, but he obviously asked me if I knew what comes with it and if I’d seen how much he worked when he was still a pretty much salaried employee, but now he’s got a rank in the dental lab.
Obviously, I said that I knew that there were times when he was there until 11 pm, that he had to go back at night because something had happened.
My sister was happy about it anyway, because she’d already said that we could work together and stuff, my mum had some doubts about whether I knew what it was, but I reassured them that I was determined about it, so…
And every job must be done, and there are difficulties, so whatever I would have chosen anyway, there would have been minor major problems, so yeah.
From my friends, by the way… Well, they were happy that I’d finally got something stable, and a friend of mine is going to be a dental assistant, so there’s little connections there as well, so it’s really mixed, but overall I think it’s been positive in all the little ways.
Well, the family, they obviously told me that they were very proud of me, and obviously everyone congratulated me, but I was still a disbeliever after the admissions, it was several rounds and every time I came home I said, “Well, it was cool, everything, but I don’t know, I’m not sure if I’ll get in, I’m sure there’ll be someone who’s more deserving or who’s practiced more” or something and I said “I’m not so sure about that”, but the family said “Oh I’ll get in anyway”, so it was more like a kind of reassurance on their part “Okay then, I’ve spent two months not only reassuring myself, but he really has some talent after all”
Yeah so, I received a lot of congrats from my friends and family, they were not shocked by this outcome, I received a lot of comments like, it is a good opportunity to move to a new city, like Budapest I would say or a variety of more opportunities for my future career life as well, so it is a good choice.
And what are your expectations for yourself in this profession and in your studies for the future?
Well, I’ve always taken the maximum with my studies, but as soon as I get it right, if I have to retake it, I retake it, but I’ll touch wood. Thank God I haven’t had to retake any exams, any tests, not even my driving exam, so yeah, and I’ve got a big boost and hype that I’m going to be working with my dad, so to speak. I’m going to be learning from him for three years because I’m going to be doing my apprenticeship with him, so the bar is set pretty high because I know he’s going to push me hard, so I’m not going to be spoiled, which I’m happy about.
I would say, I prefer to get a stable job and to be well paid, so I wouldn’t receive any financial support from my family anymore as they are already paying a lot for my education, so I hope I will be financially stable, and I look for jobs in the field of marketing for sure, and I hope I could be like a marketing analyst or social media manager. , I think like get a job you prefer, have good connection with my colleagues, like have a good environment at the company with good communication, good networking and I could generate all my values I’ve learned from my previous education and the company could make me feel kind of successful in my career life.
So, it’s very motivating for you to be able to work with your father, let’s look a little bit more at what success is for you, what do you consider success?
Well, anyway, it would definitely be a successful field study and if you get into this job, if I take it to the top, I’m going to take every part of it to the max. Maybe if things work out, I’ll get a master’s degree out of it, my dad did that, so I’ll really take it to the max.
Well, so that everything is not just at the academic level, but also in practice, and maybe the colleagues and patients and such can say that yes, it was good, and she did his job well, so I would be very happy if we could take things to such a level that I would really be recognized in the profession.
Success is an extremely broad concept and I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the last few days, that there are many levels of success and even here at home we say that a Dzsúdló or Azariah is successful, but compared to Ozzy Osbourne, maybe not so much. But obviously they are successful, but it might be a success for someone to go home and have their little girl jump in their arms.
So, for someone, that could be a success. It’s really about the degrees of success and what you want, what you see in your own success.
For me, success in my profession and in my small country means that I can actually earn a living from making music and support my family in the future. For me it’s really that, if I really don’t have to do anything else but make music…
Obviously, it’s a very serious job because it’s really hours and hours of practice every day and then also rehearsing, you don’t even think about how many hours a week. Plus, then there’s the problem of getting to the concert, so it’s one thing to see an hour and a half concert, but there’s a lot of work behind it. At home, in the rehearsal room, on YouTube, everywhere.
I think success means achieving your goals and realising your full potential.
And in terms of my relationships and family, I think I am already successful because my family and friends are very supportive. I don’t think it’s that difficult to achieve success, at least if I were to graduate with a master’s degree, I think it would be easy to find a job that pays well and is stable. I think I just need to stay motivated and work hard.
Otherwise, regardless of the salary, so you could choose another profession completely independently, would you choose another profession and if so, what would it be?
Well, I’m a bit ashamed of this, but at 19 years old, even though I went to catering school, so I studied finance, I’m very bad in finance I think, really anyway. So, I’m not really up to speed with that… Well, obviously I know that especially here in Sopron, where there are a lot of dentists, I know that dentists are pretty damn good, teachers not so much.
But that’s not what inspired me to… To tell you the truth, I came up with catering as well, because I saw that we had people in the family who were in the catering business, and obviously that appealed to me, so I came up with that first, and architecture was a little further away, but that also appealed to me from a relative, and dental technology also from my dad, so…
It’s more about the circumstances, how much I have to deal with people… That’s why I didn’t like the catering, I’ll add, because I don’t like strangers and it’s a big word that I suffered through 4 years in the catering school and that’s why I like the dental technician now, obviously I have to work with my colleagues there because it’s a bit of a teamwork but I have nothing against that, I have problems with strangers a lot and that’s fine for me, that we are isolated in the small laboratory with colleagues and maybe we only have to go down to the patient when there is a handover, a finished work, a fitting or something and my sister said exactly the same when I came up with the dental technician course, that she can imagine me in this, that I am there doing my little thing, if I have to go down and talk to strangers but if I don’t have to, then I don’t. So, I’m more driven by the environment and the work that I do.
Well, if my degree wouldn’t matter, I would rather be a youtuber or a vlogger, because I like to share my personal life with my friends and my environment and I think that could be my interest or passion.
What do you think about the fact that different students have different chances of starting their studies and life? We’re thinking here, I’m thinking here about financial situation, family background, education, simply where they live or where they were born and how much they want to study how much they want to work for their future or how they see it in general.
I think that for me, especially here at the vocational high school… I mean, in my school there were also classes in the year group who only studied a profession, they didn’t get a Matura exam certificate, so I think in our school there are many people who have a more difficult financial background and therefore don’t want to go to university and so on, so they just learn a profession that they like, but I think that if someone starts a high school and puts himself fully into it and decides that they will study very hard, because they want to go to medical school in Pest but they live down in some small town, I think if they put their all into it and they study like hell, I think whether they get into the university is up to them and how hard they put themselves into it.
Obviously, the need to move to Pest, to find accommodation there, it is obviously related to the financial background, but I think it can be solved not to go to renting a flat but to a dormitory, or maybe to a friend or relatives.
So I think the financial background only matters if you’re going to a self-funded university, but I don’t know many people who want to go there in the first place, obviously it’s option B or C, D, but I think if you’re aiming for admission and you’re fully focused on it, I think if you get in with a good score and you’re studying at the university to stay in, I think it’s entirely down to how determined you are about it.
Basically, I think it helps to be born in a good family. A lot actually, because that’s just the way our world is. If you can’t afford an instrument, you’ll never… So, if you can’t buy a guitar for say your child, that child that will never own a guitar they would never turn out to be the best guitar player in the world. So from that point of view, it obviously matters but…
As an example, I thought of Zoli Farkas, the guitarist and lead vocalist of Ektomorf. He came from a very poor family from Alföld to being the lead guitarist and lead singer/screamer of a world-famous band, so I don’t think they would have been swimming in money like that there either.
So, it doesn’t necessarily depend on that, but… It’s a very difficult question really, because we see that world stars have often starved to death a long time ago, because they didn’t have money.
So, it’s really a very difficult question and I think we could have a discussion until tomorrow morning, but yes. So, there are big differences, and it doesn’t matter what kind of laptop you can buy for university. Obviously, it matters…
Obviously, it makes a difference whether someone buys a laptop for university or still writes on paper. I generally find that people prefer to do their work on laptops. But if you’re coming from the countryside and you’re in a really shitty situation, you don’t necessarily have the money for a laptop. You might not be able to do project work. If you want to go to a computer science university, but you don’t have the money for a laptop, you don’t start from 2 points minus, you start from 10 points minus.
So it’s not equal unfortunately, but like Zoli Farkas and a lot of other people you could say, nothing depends on the background. So, the will is always worth much more than wealth or pressure or things like that.
I think it’s 50-50, because we have different resources based on our family background and our financial situation, and during this period we have 3 perspectives, such as our personal values, our worldview, and our philosophy of life. You can use all the resources to build relationships, all the skills you have acquired in the past and work hard to be successful in your future career.
You heard Petra, Levi, and Grace.
And to get a better understanding of the professional and mental background, we asked Dr. Gabriella Kassa, a counselling psychologist and trainer, for some good advice on how success in career choice can be related to family and individual pressures, and to help us better understand this massive area. Let’s start with our last topic, what is success, how do we understand success, how can we achieve success in general?
It’s very difficult to give anyone advice through a one-liner, because the life situations that young people can come from are so varied, and first of all, if I had a conversation with you, I could talk about what success means to you.
This is also very variable, because someone’s success is that he moves in such an environment, lives in such circumstances, came from a school of such, that success is if he goes to a leading position or becomes a researcher, and someone’s success is if he achieves self-fulfilment or success in a creative field that he has always wanted, or there was no example of it in his family.
For sure, maybe the big change is that we have more and more opportunities, which is a very good thing, on the one hand, that there are so many opportunities to choose from, but I see that this is something that puts a lot of extra pressure on young people.
So this is the reference group, where we can see that others have reached this point or can reach it, but at the same time we can see that the area of getting into a respected university is narrowing, a lot of points are needed, a lot of things have to be passed and the other is that we can see that there are big differences in living standards and that for a young person to achieve what they want, for example housing or travel, they need a financial investment and this has to be generated from somewhere. And the other half is true… I work a lot with parents, and now with university students, but I used to work even more with high school students, and even the parents were very much aware that this pressure often comes from them, so it’s a pattern, which we inherit or bring or the parent gives as a model to his child or the parent’s pressure is on the child, that the parent says that this must be achieved or must get in here and then it is already such a compulsion in the students or children.
So basically, the parent wants to achieve their own goals through the child?
It’s hard for anyone to admit that they want to be self-fulfilling, but in fact there has been instances that they’ve said, “Oh my God, if they go down this path, what will happen to them, how do we talk about this at home, that they won’t make a living”. That there is such a livelihood anxiety in the parents, that at all costs the child should do something that will secure their livelihood as soon as they as parents see a career path and try to push their child in that direction and then it can be that, and obviously the pressure of peers…
I’m obviously a different generation – I mean, teenagers today… So I’m still at the very edge of the world of social media, so I haven’t grown up like that, but if you look at a young person today, there’s a lot of pressure coming from social media, how others have achieved success. And this is something that is very much dealt with by experts and there are also studies on this, that it puts an extra pressure on young people, that it is pushed in front of them, so to speak, that this is what someone achieved, this is what the others…
Everyone wants to be an influencer, much exaggerated obviously.
Yes, so youtuber and whatnot. And even if he doesn’t want to be one, but he sees that I don’t know what kind of contemporary is already a CEO, already a yacht owner, has or has had 5 language exams, because on certain platforms we don’t post photos but degrees and training and then they think that they have to achieve this or want to achieve it, they don’t have to but they want to achieve it, because such an inner pressure arises in them.
And I guess you can add peer pressure to it for parents…
Yes, the parental pressure…
Okay, so the impulses come from many places, so I think there’s an expectation that we have towards ourselves that I want to have a car in my mid-twenties, whatever, a house around 30, I’m just storming ideas like that. How can you navigate between these pressures and expectations, how can you even manage them in their place, because obviously the management itself is relative, is there any good technique or perspective for this, anything?
I think it takes a very high level of self-awareness to be able to define exactly what is important to me because it’s perfectly acceptable for someone to say that their living conditions are extremely important, or that they really like a fancy car, or that they want to live in a certain neighbourhood or own a certain type of property and prioritise that.
And then somebody expresses that it’s more important for them to be in a good work environment or to really do what they really love and then they can say that they can let go of other factors and I think that self-awareness is the key to really ending up working by a set of values or following a pattern or following goals that are truly important to them.
If self-awareness is the key, then it may sound very simple: well, you must know yourself, obviously that’s what the ancients said, but how can we know ourselves? So this is a quasi, poetic, soft and airy question, of course, let’s read and think about what is good for us and what is not, but there are expert answers to this, on the one hand, and on the other hand, I find that I meet different young people and I have different identities, that reflect very different sides of myself, for example, in an urban life or when I was a student at a secondary school, at a primary school, I simply behave differently in different places in different societies, and a sociologist called Goffman wrote about this in his book “The Staging of Everyday Life”, so what is self-knowledge and how can we get to know ourselves?
Well, I would now give you the classic answer, as a professional, that everyone should go to self-awareness therapy. On the one hand, it is a relatively long and expensive process, and not everyone wants to go to a psychologist or to self-awareness groups. I think that talking to peers or talking to parents and teachers helps a lot, and what you said about trying out as many situations as possible, because if you step out of your comfort zone a little bit, let’s say someone who has lived in the countryside and moves to Pest, then they get to know a new version of themselves, they look at how they react to a given situation, what feelings they have and if they think about it a little bit more or if they can discuss the question with someone, “I don’t know why it bothers me if I get too much stimulation” or the other way around, I have had clients who have realised that the hustle and bustle of Budapest is too much or not right for them and they have lived in the countryside, they have lived in Budapest and they said that they prefer the quiet environment where they can fulfil themselves much better and they moved away.
Or in the same way, the types of organisational culture, so here at the career centre and at career counselling sessions we talk a lot about this, that it is worthwhile for people to try themselves out in several organisational cultures because each organisational culture conveys different values and if I try myself out I get to know myself better, how I behave in certain situations, what feelings I get and I can decide much better afterwards which one is right for me. Because if we look at the two extremes, the public sector, which is a relatively regulated environment, or the start-up world, they are for completely different personality types and require completely different attitudes or reactions.
But yes, the best way to tell if it’s right for us is to really test ourselves in many situations. And of course what you said, you can also read books, there are a lot of books on this topic, there are many lectures, workshops that are worth going to, or even at university, by the way, a very good opportunity if someone goes to university, there are a lot of credit and non-credit courses that deal with career planning, career and self-awareness or self-awareness in general, which I think helps a lot.
So what if I don’t really want to put effort, time and energy into awareness, but you know, it’s going to be the “go with the flow” category, and not because I’m a couch potato, but because I simply haven’t decided yet, I am not sure that the Hungarian literature degree course I’ve been accepted for, because I applied for it, what it will be good for, but I just go in, I study, I’m interested, and then something will come.
So, what advice would you give to people who don’t want to be or can’t be very conscious yet? Or by the way, if I use my own example, I missed 3 years after graduation, I was just studying, I was working, I did a BA and then a master’s, I didn’t start out in life like I don’t know, I want to be a radio podcast producer and a communications instructor.
I think there’s nothing to it. So, if you… On the one hand, there are times when somebody has it at all… So, if they themselves feel that they’re fine, because they’re feeling fine now, that they’re studying something or going to university, then that’s a good thing, so if they don’t have an inner pressure…
I also think, what I had in my environment and what we’re talking about, that these kinds of pressures that come, because we were talking about it in the ELTE short podcast a few months ago, that, I told this short personal story, that when I applied to university, my dad said why am I applying to university, why don’t I go to a technical college or study a trade, when I didn’t get in, that was the problem, and then when I got in, he was obviously happy about it but he asked what was it good for.
So, it was such a strong parental expectation, pressure, whatever. So, I think what you’re saying is that you should go with the flow as best you can, get to know yourself. But that’s not what we see in the vast majority of society and our environment.
Well, yes, so obviously I’m the opposite example, because I was told when I was in pre-school that you must go to university no matter what. So that…
This is also a very strong pressure. So how did you feel?
Since then, I’ve told my parents several times that it was quite nice to hear that, that there was no other way, so this was obviously the other extreme. We also see here that very often it is really being pushed that you can’t be a woodcarver or something, because you have to be a doctor or a lawyer or something.
So these processes also depend on personality, because there are young people who should talk to their parents because the parent puts the pressure on them, then all we can do is to strengthen the young person’s picture or the young person’s self-image and tell them that this is your path because you are already becoming independent and that you feel what’s good for you that you don’t know whether you’re going to university or not, or you’re doing this or you’re doing that or you’re doing well in Hungarian studies, then we can do that and we can reinforce that it’s not an external expectation.
And I think a lot of such education is needed for parents as well, and in high school, let’s say in the 9th-10th grades, the choice of career starts with the choice of faculty, and there it is important for the school psychologist or the university recruiter to talk to the parents about the fact, that it is not the life of the parent…
So, what we said at the beginning, that a parent only really supports their child if they support their child’s path. And it’s true that parents say, I’m a parent myself, so I can speak from this hat, that of course, of course, but the child comes up with something, I don’t know, it’s usually a classic that he wants to be an actor or…
Or a locomotive driver.
Or a jazz singer or I don’t know, something that’s completely unknown to the parent and then it’s like, what’s going to happen to them, but I think it’s because we’re going to be working for a very long time, so we’re thinking in terms of long careers and unclassifiable economic environments or we’re all going to change fields anyway, artificial intelligence is going to change the job market a lot. There are a lot of detours in people’s careers, so if someone wants to try out a field or a career, we can support them to try it and then if it doesn’t work out, they can easily change at a young age, because I think we have to let go of the idea that our whole future is decided here at the age of 18 or 20.
I had no idea what I was going to be when I was 18 or 20. A shepherd herding wild animals…
Yes, so age-wise it is still a search-for-identity period, so we are looking for our way and the other is that a young person lives in a restricted environment. Let’s admit it, they go to high school, then go home, live in their small environment, obviously the kind of environment he lives in, the kind of people he meets…
But now you’ve got the internet and you’ve got TikTok which is a window on the world, and you can see that you can be a non-playable character that’s constantly spinning around.
Yes, but let’s admit that even there they somehow see a narrow world, so…
Of course, we know how the algorithm works, what will it throw at you…
So, the truth is that the algorithm also narrows down my horizon, because if I’m constantly reading biological articles, it will constantly throw me those that are relevant to it, and it won’t even give me the book on grammar in practice, not even the book’s recommendation, so I’ll have no idea that there is such a discipline.
And the other thing I think we professionals have a responsibility to do, again, either in public education or here at university, is to draw as wide a picture as possible of how much you can do and how many different ways you can be successful. So, I think that this is an important task because, in addition to self-awareness, it is also very important to get to know the world and the labour-market, which in turn needs to be helped. Because otherwise you sit there… It’s hard for a young person to see that there are thousands of ways to be happy and successful, and thousands of different career paths, and I know people who have the opposite, who went to a vocational school after obtaining several diplomas and found their happiness there, or who came to university at the age of 30, so I think there are many, many things, but I really think that this is the other thing that young people need to be helped with, and then they will really have a much greater sense of security in making decisions and in moving in this world.
What about those young people who live in places that are not particularly good economically, in terms of infrastructure, education, in many respects, so outside the capital, say, outside the county capitals, outside the larger cities, where the career paths are very narrow, if I’m right in thinking that. There is a narrow margin where they can go to study. But they would like to be more, better, or it would be good if they could find out that if they invest time and energy in their own education, or something like that, so that they can be better off later, what can be done with them and what can be advised because these are not such good places in this country.
Well, yes, that’s exactly the point of the interview… So the interview with the young people said that they were… In concrete terms, a guitarist can only be someone who buys a guitar, because if you don’t have the opportunity to buy a basic instrument, or your parents or anyone at school, then you can’t become a guitarist, even if you dream of becoming a guitarist, it’s true that socio-economic status determines a lot, of course we have seen counter-examples and success stories, that even in very difficult circumstances.
They are usually one in a million.
Yes, so basically the fact is that there are obviously more opportunities in the Pest County, Budapest region, and there are more opportunities in the big cities in the countryside, but who… So if someone has a very big inner motivation to break out, or I wouldn’t say break out, but to make a big step or a big change compared to their parents, then you have to be very proactive because the career usually consists of finding a mentor in such a case or a program like this. There are quite a lot of talent and support programs here in Hungary, which help to give the first push to, say, a period in a high school, from which it is much easier to get into higher education.
But obviously, young people need a lot more inner motivation and a lot more energy than someone who was born into a society where his parents have a network of contacts that can provide him with information and help, and he can attend extra classes, so it is a fact that there are different life paths here, depending on where you come from.
There have now been various interviews with young people who have been accepted to university or vocational training. What was your first impression of them, of what they told you?
Well, it was really that they had finally found their way, they had been in a little bit of a search before, but that both of them seemed to feel that they had a vision or that they had their lives on track.
I think that’s extremely positive. And what came out of both of them was that they were highly supportive of the family, so that they were supported to really find the path that was right for them, so two very positive examples of that in both of the interviews.
Gabriella thank you very much for the conversation!
And you can find the whole conversation with Gabriella Kassa at eper.elte.hu.
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The programme was produced in 2023.