Thursday, December 13, 2007

Typing Class Regrets: My 10 Career Goofs: An English Major's Lament!

* ETA: Special Welcome to new visitors from MSN Smart Spending Blog. Please look around my blog! Thanks for stopping by!

My list of Bubble Head memories is long: I took a typing class in high school. I knew, of course, that only big-hair girls who wanted to be secretaries took that class. Now, I wish I had paid more attention to the typing drills.

So here's my list of 10 Bubble Head Career Errors:

1. Typing Class. In the mid-70s, as a honors high school student, (one of the smart girls!) I pictured handing off hand-written, rough drafts to a secretary, who would type all of my memos and corporate reports. Who knew that computers (with email life-lines) would come along and I'd be typing everything myself?

Oh, I'm a decent typist, but I'd like to go back in time and whisper in the ear of my teenage-self: 1) Pay attention to the typing instructor!! 2) Take this class seriously. 3) This is the one of the few high school classes that you will need every day of your adult life.

Bottom line: I'd be richer now, if I paid more attention to typing class.

2. Take a business class!! Okay, Miss English Major: Could you have taken at least one business management course? Can we please trade a little bit of Beowulf or Chaucer for Self-Employment 101?
The Liberal Arts are great, but I'd have more time for the arts today, if I made more time for a business education in college. By the way, I loved Georgetown University, which has great business, law, foreign service, medical & liberal arts programs. Yeah! That's a plug for my school.

Bottom line: Even my inner poet wishes that I had a better head for business.

3. Internships: I had my first internship shortly after graduating from Georgetown. (CAS '80) Why did I wait? I received a great education, but I should have taken more time to find an internship program during my undergrad years.

Bottom line: Internships provide professional head starts.

4. The big Duh!?! factor: I've wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old. I became a journalist. Why didn't I join the staff of any of my school papers?

Bottom Line: Duh!

5. Graduate School: I've always loved going to school, but I waited until I was almost 50 years old before going to grad school.

Bottom line: Don't get me started on this one. Don't get my mother started. She will give you an earful. My folks have been urging me to go back to grad school since I left college.

6. Wall Street: I became a financial writer. In hindsight, I wished I had spent more time reading the business section of newspapers during my early 20s.

Bottom line: There is always a bottom line, even in poetry.

7. Beauty obsessions: Why did I act like a supermodel? Can I take back all of those hours I spent getting my hair "fried, dried and laid to the side." And what about all of those hours getting manicures, facials, etc? Why did I waste those billable hours?

Bottom Line: What was I thinking? Clearly nothing: I was an air-head in training.

8. Self-help relationship books: OMG! Do you have an hour for me to vent? I had a stack of books with different titles, but the same themes: 1. Please make him love me; 2. How to Find Prince Charming 101; 3) How to Fix Your Broken Heart and finally, my least favorite: 4) How to Break His Heart. OMG!
Those books only made me stupid, because while I was reading about my low-self esteem, I was lowering my IQ. I should have been reading about business plans, self-employment and career goals.

Bottom line: You are what you read.

9. Computers 101: In the mid 80s, a dear friend introduced me to an Apple computer and insisted I learn a few basics about computers. Ha! I should have paid more attention. What's more, I should have taken a course after later realizing that computers were becoming essential to the writing profession.

Bottom line: Don't ignore technology.

10. The geek at my dinner table. In 1991, before the World Wide Web was such a big deal, a really cool, but somewhat geeky scientist came over to dinner. He raved about how scientists and researchers all over the world all chatted to each other over some kind of electronic highway.

I listened, yawned and continued eating.

Bottom line: Don't be narrow-minded. Listen to geeks and pay attention to dinner guests. And above all: Recognize prophecy when it's served at your own table.



Dedicated said...

I love this post! Probably for all the truth it holds.

On the other hand, you could probably post again on Why You Should Let Go Of Your Regrets and Move Forward. LOL.

Frugal Duchess said...


Thanks for giving me another post idea. LOL

And honestly, I am working on letting go of regrets.

Thanks for enjoying the post. I appeciate your comments.
Best Wishes,

My Inner French Girl said...

Frugal Duchess,

Great post! I wouldn't sweat most of these, though. You're familiar with the butterfly effect, right? The theory that even the slightest change in one part of the world can have an enormous effect on another. I was on the Internet in 1993, but that didn't mean that I foresaw the boom that was just around the corner. I dated computer guys most of my college and young adult years, but many of them were too self-absorbed and immature for me to really want to pursue the relationship further. I went to grad school in my mid-twenties, but ended up finishing with a degree I didn't really care for.

Hindsight really is 20/20, and even if you'd done even one of those things you write about, it doesn't guarantee that things would have turned out differently.

Caveat: When I was eight, my mom gave me a Fisher-Price typewriter as she knew I loved to write. I started out typing with my two middle fingers, eventually becoming pretty good at it. I was always a sight-typist, though, and when I was in high school, my mom persuaded me to take a typing class, telling me that since I was already a fairly decent two-finger typist, imagine what I could accomplish, writing-wise, with all ten! Without looking at the text!


I went ahead and did it, though, and am sooo glad I did. Helped get me through college and grad school, not to mention get lots of jobs. Oh, and now that I'm a writer and blogger, it's probably the best and most useful thing I ever did in high school, right up there with taking AP English and reading Crime and Punishment.


Frugal Duchess said...

Hi Marjorie/ Inner French Girl:

Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply.

You are so on target about the butterfly effect and thanks for that insight. (It was new to me and I love the concept & the metaphor.)

Your comment made me feel lots better. Hey, I'm learning to embrace my very extended stay in the world of caterpillars.

Your typing story is great. Your fingers must really fly on the keyboard. Who knew?

Thanks so much for writing. Your comment was the first thing I've read today and it's a great way to start.
Take Care,

My Inner French Girl said...

Dear Sharon,

Bonjour! You're so welcome! The term "butterfly" effect refers to the idea that the flutter of a butterfly's wings in China can cause a hurricane in America, or something like that. I love the idea as well, and I think a lot of scientists use it to refute the theory of time travel.

Anyhoo, yeah, I'm usually clocked at 100 wpm, averaging 2 errors. When I finished typing class, I was doing well at 40 wpm, so all that writing's really paid off!

I really love your blog and am glad to have found it. As you probably guessed, I found you through the MSN Smart Money column. Looking forward to reading more!


Frugal Duchess said...

Dear Marjorie:

Thanks for the explanation. Instead of googling, I can save my fingers for typing.

I think in high school, I was about 30 or 40 wpm. I'm not sure where I am now, but I'm faster for sure. Your speed of 100 wpm is pretty good: That's quite a workout!

And thanks, thanks (merci) for visiting. It really means a lot.

I'm grateful to MSN Smart Spending for mentioning me.

Take care,

Barbara said...

I, too, was an English major, but have been an entrepreneur for ages. I now live in Las Vegas and wrote an article last year inspired by a story in our Sunday paper about 10 of the most influential folks in our lively city. Surprisingly--or not--several of them, including Steve Wynn, were English majors in college.
I'm sure no guidance counselor told him that his English degree was the key to revolutionizing the hotel industry in Las Vegas, but his love of the arts has certainly made a difference in his business.

Frugal Duchess said...


You are so right about the value of an English Degree. I loved, loved, loved my English Honors Program at Georgetown.

A lot of professions value that English degree, which is useful for problem-solving and creative thinking in a business context.

But I should have been more open-minded about taking a course on business management. A lot of doctors and lawyers have discovered that they are great with the nut-and-bolts of their craft, but horrible at the biz mgt aspect of their respective professions. That's my story also.

Thanks so much for your well-made points about English Majors. I was cheering.

Take Care and stop by again,
Best Wishes,