Just two months ago, Lewis, a friend of mine, told me that he was considering a job switch. That seemed fine, but I was completely taken by what he meant. He was talking about carpentry in Singapore to professional locksmith and even funeral services for a new career. About a job that would bring him closer to life and contentment.
After all, Lewis holds a PhD in molecular biotechnology and has been in the field for several years. I naturally thought that switching jobs now, especially for a less respectable one, would be career suicide. Was he crazy? I sure felt that I was wasting my life away not being able to make use of my degree in molecular biotech. A waste of humanity’s promise…
Thinking out of the box – all that glitters is not gold.
But he was adamant about it, and passionately laid out his thoughts that the job would bring. He pondered the satisfaction that would be derived from the more hands-on approach taken in carpentry. Not only that, but also the immediately positive effects it has on society. I was finally starting to understand.
This in stark contrast to the cold, daily routine of the research lab. It involves daily experiments, tedious data collection and inferences. It involves writing papers and publishing said papers. Sometimes it requires going against personal principles in order to persuade the powers-that-be for much needed grant money. Most of time it involves trying to make sense of an impersonal mess.
And it’s worse if you work along the lines of someone whose whose work doesn’t involve meeting people, such as an experimental scientist or technical engineer. With practically no social opportunities aside from lunch break and day offs, its social suicide for anyone who’s lonely and still very single. Just like another friend of mine who’s a technical engineer at Sembawang Shipyard.
Yeah, I guess he was starting to make a little more sense now. Maybe it wasn’t that implausible to explore a career as a good carpenter in Singapore. There seems to be more to the job than meets the eye. Plus it doesn’t mean burning any bridges to your previous life.
Anyway, below is a comic from PhDComics.com for some laughs, courtesy of the post-doc world. Perhaps a top-career isn’t as glamorous as we’d like to think it is.
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Disassociated from our evolutionary legacy.
Not to mention how extraordinarily difficult it is getting into academia and maintaining a high-level career in the field. One could say that this weeds out the less dedicated, but really do the stakes need to be so high that it affects one’s happiness?
It’s a fact that the progress of civilization requires society to rearrange how it works. And with each reorganization, society moves further away from our evolutionary norms. What’s debatable is whether these changes culminate in a lot of the unhappiness that we experience today that’s only offset by material well-being.
But before you start to wave it off as a necessary sacrifice, remember that evolution is smarter than you think it is. There are reasons why things work the way they do.
In an NCBI study, most of this change in net happiness comes not from people getting happier, but because fewer people are experiencing severe unhappiness due to poverty, disease and death. Well, you can guess which side of the debate I’m on. Is it wrong to ask for more from life?
Passion drives excellence and happiness.
Despite his desire to contribute to the world through academia, Lewis realized that it’s also important to do something that meant something special to him. It didn’t matter if he found it in a more modest place. Besides, passion drives one to do well in their chosen field. This indirectly results in good work that helps others while not thinking of it as a job.
However, the switch CAN BE SCARY. After all, picking up carpentry so far into your current career, a field that you have no experience at, is a long shot. More importantly, you might be taking a hefty pay cut and having to start all over. But it might be all worthwhile if you find real happiness.
While still applying to work in academia, the old wisdom that loyalty and dedication to the same job is changing. With inflation outpacing the average pay raise, long-term employees often find that they aren’t getting ahead financially if they continue working for the same company. It’s no longer the 1960’s or 1970’s where landing yourself an office job will set you for life.
Others are also exploring Carpentry in Singapore.
Reading up on the matter online, it seems that Lewis is not alone. Other high level academics have also expressly interest in carpentry and have taken steps toward it, with many joining carpentry companies in Singapore to learn the trade.
According to this article on the Straits Times, last year 40 university graduates signed up for the Creative Craftsmen Apprenticeship Programme. The programme started in February 2014 by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), National Trades Union Congress’ Employment and Employability Institute, Singapore Workforce Development Agency and Spring Singapore. The SFIC provides training courses, E-learning programmes and rentable carpenter workshops.
It appears that the government is trying to encourage more people to become carpenters in Singapore. And aside from trying to establish a strong local carpentry presence targeting the global market, it also opens new opportunities for employment for those affected by job market glut. That’s not unexpected – in a system that makes you believe that self-worth and financially feasible jobs lie only in high academic qualifications, it’s easy to see how carpentry would get swept under the rug.
There are many examples of good carpenters and carpentry contractors in Singapore which shows that the industry is alive and well in the country and who do everything from custom kitchen cabinets, custom made furniture and carpenter renovation work.
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