So the question is, how vital is education and/or experience?
For my money, experience is the key factor in anything, I spent 5 years learning electronics, most of which was dry and theory based, which I found hard to remember or get enthusiastic about.
The upshot of which, when I left Uni, I never wanted to touch a soldering iron again.. (Actually I never touched a soldering iron in uni, it seemed to be beneath us to learn about circuit design, pcb fabrication, rules of thumb, how to read schematics, how to blow stuff up.. In short all the fun things about electronics).
So I spent a few years trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to do, tried my hand at a few different things, got depressed ’cause I never seemed to fit into office work, selling electricity to angry farmers, juggling cheese in factories etc. The closest I got was landscaping with a good friend of mine, designing gardens and working out how to build things really got me going.
By more luck than judgment I ended up in broadcast, where the most fun jobs were the ones where we had to make a show work using chewing gum, sweat, beer and lots of gaffa tape.
My first big job involved spending a few months in Spain, working on a sailing event. I ended up being the engineer in charge of repairing kit when it was collected off the boats at the end of each day, tipping the fish out, buying copious amounts of vaseline (theres a story…) and generally figuring out troubleshooting on the fly. It has to be said, I learnt much more in those few months than in all the 5 years in education, theres nothing quite like staying up until 3am frantically soldering kit, fueled by beer and dubious vending machine sandwiches…..
Whenever I’ve moved into other aspects of broadcasting, I’ve found learning the theory is all well and good, and provides a good grounding, but its not until you’re running round with your hair on fire that you really learn things….
Most of my knowledge has come from trying things, asking questions, blowing things up and generally having to fix things within seconds.
Seeing how things actually work in reality has made me come back and enjoy learning, promote understanding and think of applications for theory in a way I never would all those years ago at Uni.
Although, I would say education is very important, as it gives a good grounding, in isolation I find it tends to not reflect the real world much, better surely is to gain experience first, learn what motivates you, then contemplate studying for something. I’d be quite happy if my daughter wanted to take a couple of years out from education to travel, work and generally experience some of the world.