Monday, 20 April 2009

Better Careers Advice (From Anne Fine)

Following on from the last post I would like to tell you about the best careers advice I ever received. This was also at school. I don't think it is surprising that it was from a writer.

Chilren's author Anne Fine (pictured above, doesn't she look like a lovely lady?) came to my school once to talk at our annual prize-giving. We normally had really boring people who were generally terribly sucessful in industry to come and talk to us about success, working hard and all those other quite dull things, but this year (god knows how) the school had managed to persuade someone famous and interesting to come and speak.

I remember Anne Fine's speech being witty and interesting, and I remember her talking about education and success not always being best measured by exam results but in terms of personal achievement and the satisfaction a person gains from a task. As I was sitting on the prize-winners' bench I remember not being that impressed by those sentiments; I wanted maximum fame and glory, thank you very much, but I appreciate what she was saying now that I am very much older and my life isn't measured in percentages and grades any more.

The one thing that really stuck out for me was her advice on what one should do with one's future.

"Find something you enjoy doing and do that."

At the time I wondered what on earth that would be; I was maybe thirteen or fourteen and enjoyed giggling my way around record shops, reading Point Horror, making mix tapes and going to friends' houses to chat. Not much you could build a career on.

But the fact that her advice stayed with me showed that it must have struck a chord somewhere: I think the idea of a job as something to be enjoyed was entirely new to me, but her sunny personality and obvious love of life gave her words weight. She had followed her own advice and it had worked well for her.


Victoria Elliott said...

I really don't remember Anne Fine at speech day... I only remember Carol Vorderman and Elizabeth thingy, ex-Magazine editor and Deputy Chief Constable.... You have a good memory :)

Jenzarina said...

You remember Carol Vorderman but don't remember Anne Fine? That's just wrong.

Victoria Elliott said...


If it was L4 it was the day I got my first pair of glasses so I was probably distracted by being able to see farther than six inches in front of my nose and being amazed at this fact.

I asked my mother and she remembers Anne Fine. Between us we also remember Jude Kelly and the Dame whatever her face is who is the authority on stem cell research or some such.

insomniachronicles said...

Hi Jennifer, thanks for reading my story on the pygmy giant website :)
I just read your last 2 blogs and they made me chuckle. Careers advice at my school was equally diabolical. They just didn't know what to do with me, someone who wanted to - shock horror - be creative and be a I kept being told I should be a librarian. Thanks for nothing! I do think school 'careers advisers' have a lot to answer for actually, because in my case they convinced me that I really was being unrealistic. It's only years later that I've gone back to following my dream, possibly wasting precious time!! But hey, most only look forwards, not back...

Samantha Tonge said...

My kids just love her books.

Yes, i think that is the key - god, i'd love to earn a living from writing!