Michael Erard | Projects

The Dream Job Project

Dream Job Project, logo designed by Alex Knowlton

During times of massive cultural change, one of the casualties is what life of work one can aspire to achieve and create. Career paths, aspirations, and dream jobs once were stable things. Maybe they were bequeathed from mentors to students, from parents to children, only in some imagined golden age. But at least you could, in the span of your own career, set out on a path that would change little.

Growing up, my aspiration to become a writer along the mold of Ernest Hemingway was an off-the-rack aspiration. I had inherited it from my literary culture, where generations of writers before me had pursued the same dream of a life of independent literary abandon. But it was feasible. There were stepping stones. There were rituals of ascent and ambition. There were insignia of status.

It's better for the young that the off-the-rack aspirations are obsolete. Not so much for this mid-career creative, who's finding that the next stepping stone has dissolved. But it can't be good for anyone — not for writers, or for designers, architects, artists, animators, illustrators, filmmakers — that the future arrives more and more quickly, because it's hard to set a path or even to give advice. Yes, you can teach the tools and the techniques, but you can't teach the world in which those tools and techniques will be used (even though it may be unethical to do so.) 

How do you conceive of the future work to shoot for, and how you'll do it? I invite you to weigh in below. If you were to design your work and craft your dream job, what would the meaningful parameters be? What are the things you'd have to consider, plan for, and tweak? Put 'em all in the comments. There's no right answer. The more answers, the better. In a later post, I'll summarize and condense.

By "parameters," I mean all the things from the concrete to the abstract that someone should think about and make choices about before they embark on an educational, creative, intellectual, and professional path. Assume that nothing's a given — all of these are things that can be chosen or altered. Some come from the environment. Some will seem more immediately tangible than others. But the task here is to make all of them tangible and visible, and therefore usable.

Some examples of parameters:
— The duration and intensity of one's relationship to an institution (a company, a school, etc.)
— Whether one makes products (definable objects) or services
— The lifespan of what one makes
— Idea source (introspection? research? mashup?)

Make sure to distinguish "parameter" from a specific "setting." "I want to make more than $100,000 a year" is a setting. "Salary" is a parameter. (It's probably also too broad. A more specific parameter is, will your money come from salary or from rents, royalties, and licenses?)

This is a collaborative project, you and me. The ultimate goal is to write a grammar of aspiration. The result is a tool, a dashboard, for helping to navigate the present and design the work of the future. Different combinations of settings will not only produce more normal sorts of aspirations, you'll be able to see the exotic aspirations, or realize the personally meaningful ones.

So let's begin. Please put your thoughts and opinions in the comments, and I'll hang around a bit. Let's see what we come up with.

Posted in: Social Good

Comments [40]

My notion of 'dream job' is achieving a state/role/position that barely resembles the rigid definition of 'job'. Satisfaction for me comes from the freedom to be able to seek out projects/initiatives that interest me, then do what I need to do to become involved and a contributing member of the project. It is this idea of 'project based work' or 'project based living' that seems to be the way of the future. The challenge is to somehow provide stability to those choosing this nomadic life/work-style. The 'project based life/work-style' requires ambition, collaboration, contemplation, and critical thought on your own work and that of others - all great qualities to encourage in sound 21st century education and learning.
Matt N.

I believe every single person is born (genetically programmed) with a very specific talent or skill. I don't mean "she was born to be a singer" but rather, "she was born to move people through storytelling." Whether she becomes a singer, painter, writer, is irrelevant. However, I also believe that these skills are very rarely realized, so most people spend their whole lives wedged into an incompatible system, trying desperately to make ends meet.

For me, a "dream job" is where every person knows exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are and are allowed to pursue what they are most passionate about. In an ideal world, there would be a complex test to determine what you are most compatible with. Perhaps it would rank your blood type, social skills, interests, hobbies, habits, and all of the intangibles that a regular standardized test couldn't quantify. Then the person would be given options of companies, suggestions for starting a business, ideas for producing content, writing the next great novel, or anything that fell within their personal parameters. This "job" would never introduce the threat of job security, but would encourage a mutual respect because it would be more than just a job. This job would simply MAKE SENSE. The hours (within a company) could be typically cut to the 80/20 percent model (optional of course) for those who wish to pursue personal projects. All the people within that company would be able to share a common thread of interest and achieve goals through a collective consciousness. All in all (I'm trying not to fly off on a real tangent here), I believe the future should be filled with people doing what they love. And it will be made up of more niche startups/teams, while the dream to move up in a large corporation will dissolve. I don't think it would create a great imbalance of products and services (fast food workers and exotic dancers wouldn't suddenly disappear off the face of the planet), but it would certainly weed out all the unnecessary stuff that exist merely to entertain our desires, not needs.

In terms of money, people work to make money. But if we had a behavioral shift where people "contributed" their time for a cause, rather than "worked" for a boss, the long term effect would truly be rewarding. It seems as though anybody can make money doing anything these days. There are no limitations. Plus if the essentials like water, electricity, and internet were subsidized through an advertising model, it would allow more people to worry less about bills and contribute more money to support others and their passions.

Those are just my two cents. My personal dream job would be to bring happiness to a specific audience, who in turn could bring happiness to their own audience.

"Dream Job" is a bit of an oxymoron to me. When I hear the word "dream", I have warm, soft, fuzzy good feelings. When I hear the word "job", I think of something I HAVE TO do to make money to pay bills, etc. I'm still searching for that balance between the two I think. And questioning if a "balance" is even achievable or desired.

My dream is to be a Filmmaker. My job has been to be an architect until recently. Now I'm going after my dream by going back to school for a degree in film & video production. My journey has been to uncover what Unfunction above talked about, which is my reason for living. To me that is the key to unlocking your dreams...finding out what you are good at, have a passion for, and believe you are here to contribute. I'm living to connect, inspire and entertain people. That's what I've discovered about myself.

Once we find out our "calling", we can start going down the path of "how" to get to the dream. I think most people simply don't allow themselves to ask this question or search for the answers. It's not easy...because it may mean giving up everything you've invested in and done up until now.

I guess I still don't know exactly what my ultimate dream job is. I have too many interests, and too many things I still want to try.

However...I Do know this: I am happy at my dream job - I look forward to it everyday. As a matter of fact, it pretty much consumes me - I think about it as I fall asleep, as I drive or walk somewhere, when I'm in the shower. I want to share it with everyone I see.

I guess I do know that this dream job, for me, is the creation of a product. Not a product - I don't like that word - an object? A piece of art. A piece of me? Something which I have made that will be loved and treasured by another - it spreads my happiness and reflects my joy/love of my dream job.

There is money made from my dream job - not too much - just "enough" to where I don't have to also engage in a non-dream work, where I am employed by someone else. Blech.

I can do it in my home - my favorite place - my haven. I can do it when I want - my own hours. Additionally, this dream job allows time for hobbies that are not part of the dream (even though I may be thinking of the dream job while doing these other things). These other things I like to do may take a back burner, but they don't disappear as they so often do when we are consumed w/all the things in life we Have to do - work, school, laundry, yaddayadda.

Also, my dream job evolves with me - if my loves/interests take a new route, so does this dream job of mine - we adapt to one another. It's a creature of sorts, this dream job.

My parameters of "dream job" include:
-Steady minimum income that allows me some mad money at the end of the month (if more comes along in the way of royalities, commission, etc., that is a plus and a bonus, but not required)
-Flexibility with my schedule and job location
-Provide a product or service (or both) that makes people smile. I want to interact with the customer or end user before, during and after the "transaction", whatever it entails, and I'd like it to be postitive.
-Ability to work with my hands, my mind and my spirit.
-Freedom to try a new way of doing something.
-Ability to really delve into a project, invest myself into it, know it inside and out and see it through to the end.
-Variety of project types that make use of my talents and challenge me to grow.
-Help others.

I know there'd probably more, but off the top of my head, that's the list.

My dream job would basically be what I'm doing now...knitting. The only differrence would be the following: actually making enough that I don't need an outside job and all bills are current or paid off. Therfore it would need to pay a min. Of 2000.00 a month. Would perfer more but hey I dream in realistic terms. A work station that doesn't share my bedroom...a whole area dedicated to this persuit consisting of 3 conferrence/crafting tables...one along each wall....one for my knitting machine and supplies. One for other crafts I do, my drafting table could fit in the corner between this table and the one for my computer, printer, and packaging supplies to process orders. The Along-the-wall set up keeps it clean and steam lined. The fourth wall, I want built in cubbys to hold suplies and store yarn. There would be three chairs and a table. One of these chairs is a rolling office chair so I can get to each station quickly. The other two would be comfy flop chairs with pockets on each side....in front of the table where a client and I could sit, drink coffee and dicuss design ideas or look at my work and designs. The flop chairs would also double as a comfortable place to sit while hand knitting. Supplies for imediate projects or the project itself can be stored in the flop chair pockets.

There would be a tv or stereo present in this room as well. This will give the customer something to do if they came in for a while you wait project...such as a machine knitted scarf. Just to keep income steady, may sell yarn, books, and offer knitting classes. The staff would be small...one person for the sales of items in the store...one to teach knitting and general help, and myself.

To me ... that would be perfect. A dream.
Lakaya M. Peeples

I recently read Dan Pink's book, Drive. If you are searching for a new career or just looking for the "next step," Dan's book is a great place to start.

I am looking for the type of job that will allow me the opportunity to grow, a fair amount of autonomy, and it has to be purposeful. Sure, the right type of money is a factor, but at the end of the day that should not be the deciding factor. I would much rather be living a life full of meaning and balance.

I would like to write a whole lot about what I want to do, but at the end of the day, reality really is the key. I was on my way to start my design program after years of marketing, but then I received a wonderful opportunities overseas doing marketing. The reason I wanted to start a design education is to materialize the ideas that has been lingering in my mind for so long. But at the same time this opportunity overseas is a once is a lifetime thing-meaning that I can finally fulfill my old dream to work overseas, and getting a better salary to save up to start my own biz. The only concern I have is that I'm not so much into the country where I will be working at-very very slow paced. I like London & NYC better!

For all these years, I've been marketing other people's shit, and making up stories for them. However, I'm now going back to the same old role, with a little bit more added in product development...just to fulfill my old dream...If I was 25, this wouldn't be an issue, I'd just go ahead without any concerns. But as I approach 32, decisions become more and more difficult, as I don't have 5 more years to shed.

Not sure if I'm making the right decision...

A dream job is anything that allows me to experience "flow" more often than...whatever the word is for the opposite of flow. The product of the work itself and the process would be my focus, rather than the business value of what I am producing. Work days would move swiftly, and yet I would leave work each day ready to embrace everything else in my life fully, rather than always being pre-occupied about the next day's business. And finally, I would be able to live without fear of being without work.


I think there needs to be some distinction made between work that you like to do and your ability or desire to make money off them. There are some things I like to do that would end up being abhorrent if I had to rely on them for money, because usually that involves catering to someone else's wishes instead of fully expressing myself.

My ideal life involves me being involved in all sorts of creative projects, taking breaks and travelling when I want to, without worry about how I would sustain myself.
Tiara the Merch Girl

Hey, thanks for these replies...this is interesting stuff. I meant to be able to reply, but this was posted in the middle of two days of off-site meetings, which means that, unlike my normal schedule, I was away from my computer.

I like hearing about people's dream jobs, and I do think that those are types of work that already exist, with a few tweaks. That means that if everyone described the parameters of their *current* jobs you would have a heuristic for thinking about the dream job. I like what Liz talked about -- it's that level of concreteness that I'm looking for, which is ultimately going to be most helpful.

I don't know that I agree with Brad, however -- I think the "how" should happen at the same time as the calling. What creative industries don't need are more people who have been called but don't know how to execute what they want to do. And I don't mean, "execute" in the sense that you don't know how to make a movie, but that you don't know how to create a business model that will help you make movies.

So this is a start. I'm going to put this out on my FB and Twitter streams and see if I can kick up some more stuff, then I'll have a list of things to bring back to the site with another post.

michael erard

I was just speaking with a fellow faculty member about how odd it is that we have dreams and aspirations that are really just jobs. I often wonder if at some point in time, some stodgy old adults decided to falsely glorify the work of the everyman. I mean, really, when a young man/women says, "I would LOVE to work in marketing for a large corporation," I almost want to reply, "Really? I mean, really?" For some reason, the day-to-day work of non-stop phone calls, floods of emails, inter-office politics, outsourced HR, glass ceilings, computer meltdowns, backstabbing, difficult clients, unrealistic expectations, decreasing budgets, and the comical notion of a work-life balance is something that we dream about?

I'm not trying to sound overly cynical, I just wonder about this a lot. I think a lot of us have actually already realized our dream job/dream parameters, but because it isn't as glitzy as we thought it was, there must be ANOTHER dream job out there somewhere. I know full well that I have already had the blessing of experiencing two of my three dreams: to design and to teach. The only part left is to write and be published by a book or magazine.

Believe me, I'm buried in the notion of dream job just as much as everyone else. I just think it's odd, that's all. My real dreams are for my son's autism to disappear, for my daughter to be born healthy, for my wife to find her calling and serve it with excitement and ambition, to own a house, for my sister's cancer to go away, for my mom to be recognized for her achievements and challenged to achieve even more, for my dad to get off the concrete floor and into an office, for my brother-in-law to get his license back, and for my sister-in-law to meet the man of her dreams. These are the real dreams I have. My dream job? Eh, it'll happen I'm sure. A little bit of hard work, time, opportunity, and prayer should be all it'll take.
John Mindiola III

To be part of something meaningful with a group of people I enjoy and care about.

Lorraine Pennington

My dream job parameters would be based off the combination of writing and design projects, and they would all share: a level of unpredictability (no salary, mainly royalties or the sum of multiple projects) challenge, hourly flexibility so that creativity is not forcefully conjured up in an 8 hour time period, payment for what the project and skill level is really worth, respect and trust from the client, comfortable surroundings, collaboration, and the chance to produce meaningful and thoughtful work.

There's certainly been some movement in the last years to reinstate "craft" as a component of work, especially design work. As David Crow, head of Manchester School of Art, told us in 2008, "By [craft] I mean work bearing the mark of its maker, sitting alongside earlier work as part of the maker’s journey of discovery...In a world where ideas are the prime currency and craft skills can be hired, craft and ‘concept’ are seen as mutually exclusive, and craft practitioners will only be funded to continue their work if they call themselves ‘artists’ or ‘designer makers’. A valuable area of creative process risks being overlooked. Unless we challenge this, by developing a new discourse around it, we may consign everything that craft stands for to the archive, forever...." (Eye 70). More recent trends to illustrative typography seem encouraging in this regard (see Eye 75, ‘Make each letter speak out loud’).


My thought also echo what Liz wrote...

- predictable financial security - an ability to estimate that i will have enough $ to support current (moderate) lifestyle and attain health insurance

- flexible relationship to an institution whose principles i generally agree with; so, not being dependent on one single place for any duration of a time but choosing to develop (possibly long-term) relationships with institutions whose product/services/philosophy I agree with (or at least, don't disagree with)

- work with nice people; those that like their job, are responsible, cordial and positive

- to author or create something, a product or plan for a service that facilitates growth

- some flexibility to work on my hours, off-site if possible

- believe in what i have created; do well, do good

I am writer -- both creative and policy-oriented. I work out of the house because I have two small children. what has been difficult for me is finding a work situation that pays the bills, nurtures my creativity, and provides enough social interaction so that I don't go insane. I also do not want to commute the 35 minutes into Boston -- where many jobs would likely be for me.

My "dream job" would involve hopping in my car with my laptop and driving 15 minutes to some small office -- of course, it's a groovy office with plants and a fountain burbling -- where I work with 10 other women, also writers and creative types. Many of us are mothers who have only five or six hours of available time during the day. But together we might equal six full-time employees, and so we have created a firm that offers the labor of six employees.

Having a healthy, open environment in the office is key; no psycho bosses or gossiping. Fairly flat management. positive reinforcement is key for employees -- just like when you're a kid.
I want to love what I do completely and believe in the people I am working with. ideally there will be an overarching and awesome philosophy guiding the work. There will be total alignment between heart, mind, and paycheck.

I think this whole idea of people having to work 50 or 60 hours a week is bullshit -- and we, as employees and consumers, have to figure out a way to reclaim the system for ourselves. It is having such a negative impact on our families and our health. It's not that we -- as a country -- are slackers. Far from it. We are just working on it necessarily long hours and sitting on the highway, burning up fossil fuels in the process, and not producing more for all this.


I left my job 7 years ago to stay at home with my newborn son. It was important to my wife and I that one of us do this, and her job had the better benefits and longevity.

Over these years I've had the flexibility to teach at a university, volunteer for various groups, write two children's books (unpublished as of yet), spend lots of time at the library and outside in nature with my children, and most importantly, discover an artist inside myself. All the years of process sketchbooks I've maintained, full of design ideas and diagrams, are also full of drawings and art that I never saw until my wife pointed them out to me.

Two years ago I started framing and sharing my drawings, and found a wonderfully receptive audience. The 'work' and process is vastly rewarding and fulfilling–like no other experience I've had. It comes nowhere near paying for anything, but is priceless in all other respects.

A transition is coming now. My second child is about to start kindergarten, my wife lost her job, and I'm trying to figure out where to project myself.

My Dream Job would mean enough to pay bills plus savings and health coverage, and the freedom to create and share and learn, to be stimulated by collaborating with those around me. I've discovered my art, an audience, and teaching, but it's saddening that it always comes back to this struggle between art and business, creating and earning. Yet as a creative design person, I should revel in this delicious puzzle of how to support my family doing what I most love to do. There is no perfect answer, that I know.
j snape

I think a dream job is one that finds the critical balance between a person's gifts and a company's goals. Jobs become nightmares when they swing too far away from a company's goals - resulting in insolvency and general ridiculousness - or neglect to discover and use each person's gifts - the company becomes an autocratic intolerable mill.
Peter Rudd

I think that for me my dream job would not only capitalize on the aspects of design that I love, but also allow me to search within my own process to find new ways of learning, thinking, and doing.

I live in an area of the country that seems devoid of any deeper understanding or meaning of process, passion and artistic expression. It has been replaces with business models, trends, and superficial ideas that constitutes a low quality high quantity output.

I am still very young, and at the moment I am dealing with personal issues that fill me with incredible anxiety. These stem from an inability to control when I am the most creative, the lack of strategy and out of the box thinking that my superiors resort to, and a need to explore who I am as a designer and find that inner voice that can fuel my true creative process.

The parameters of my dream job would not only constitute "essentials" such as a sustainable business model & cash flow, flexible hours, and open minded clients, but also deeper what I would call spiritual essentials.

-The ability to learn from and teach my co workers, bosses, and employees.
- The ability to search within myself and my ideas for appropriate and unique solutions that go a step beyond what the client is possibly looking for to produce something magnificent.
-a process that is forever refined and experimental.
-a workplace where no idea is overlooked and where open communication leads to the betterment of the project.

An ongoing trend I see in this thread is that there are a lot of designers who understand that we all work in our own special way. It is very similar to the way that we all learn in very different ways. I think that figuring out how we work best is the key to success and in my dream I am given the freedom to explore that space to find my true creative, and productive self.
Joe G

To be part of a project that enhances creativity of the world around me, impacts lives in a positive way. With people who challenge innovation all the time.

To create drawings and paintings that bring joy to others or inspire them. Then sell enough work or reproductions to have a decent quality of life and take a vacation each year. I also would like to introduce art to underprivileged people and broaden their perspectives on life.

most people may see others as having a "dream job". say for example, antonelli as curator of design at MOMA. but, when you see what kinds of things are being curated, you realize you couldn't have that job because you have real taste, and no connections, and are unwilling to kiss ass, and a myriad of other things that prevent you from getting there. yes?

now, go for yours with that zen knowledge.

@grasshopper, good point. which is why i think that aspiring to work with a particular content insufficiently describes the aspiration. also insufficient, as per your example, is aspiring to work at a certain level in the hierarchy. if someone's dream job was to work with dogs, would they be happy as the canine euthanizer at the local pound? i doubt it. what else is there? that's what this thread is about, and what all the comments are hashing out.
michael erard

Isn't it human nature to want what others have, as bad as that maybe. The grass is nearly always greener and the reality doesn't always live up to the dream.

Keep dreaming.

Kevin Blackburn

I'm with Liz. I'll have what she's having.
Adam R Garcia

I find it curious that the internet has not been mentioned here. Since world wide communication, accessible high speed computations and data collection and the overall democratization of the web have done a lot to lead to this problem maybe it could have some of the answers.
"Project based work" is basic to the development of the web. And collaborations in many fields (both paid and volunteer) are commonplace.
Social media can connect people all over the world to develop new products and services.
Creatives can connect with, encourage and promote each other.

No, it will not be easy. Our educational systems haven't prepared us to be flexible or to continually expand our general knowledge across multiple disciplines as to create more "flow" within groups.

People want "meaning" in their lives, above and beyond providing for their families. And, know that it is a reasonable desire. That, alone, makes this an incredible moment in history.

This may sound somewhat Utopian, but I say again it will not be easy. But, living a life with too small a meaning is not easy.

Where we live will matter less. Design, marketing, branding and accounting and even production can be done in different houses in different countries simultaneously. Artists can promote themselves a world that hungers for creative talent.

The more we can "think around corners", the more valuable we will be.

The products may have a life of one month to five years, If they get off the ground.

As I said, we must be flexible. We may need multiple projects with multiple groups going at any time. This doesn't mean we are working 24/7. In fact, it is during leisure and without worry that our productive ideas are developed.

These may just be some of the ideas and fascinations of a 61 year old youngster or the senile ramblings of an old man. But I think we are on the verge of big changes that the versatile, adaptable and sociable creatives will enjoy.

My "dream job" is not so much of a job as it is a pathway I would like to explore. Being a senior undergraduate majoring in business marketing (I have no passion for business. I believe it to be one of the few practices that do not truly produce anything of substance.); therefore, I am at an important crossword in my life. I am a person who has failed to realize my true passion until later in life and I want nothing more than to pursue this passion to its fullest extent. I aspire to study for a MFA in communication design at a top tier university and ultimately pursue a career in the field. However, my lack of experience and education in the field makes this goal very difficult. I believe myself to be generally mediocre in all the requirement aspects that allow one the opportunity for admissions into one of the nation top design schools that will offer me the intellectual inquiry of design I desire most. I believe my drive to accomplish this goal and my complete fascination with the discipline is the only area where I am extraordinary; however, without the proper resources (my current college and current city has very little in the form of a design department or institution where I can study and gain experience) My challenge is transforming my drive into something tangible I can show to admissions offices.

I believe many people fail to truly realize their "dream job. However, I believe even more people realize their "dream job" or their true passion, but the difficulty of attainment is what stands in the way of their ultimate fulfillment. I hope I am not one of the latter. Hopefully, recognition of this and my drive to pursue my passion will ensure I won't end up as one of the latter.
Joseph Cuillier

My dream job involves me speaking several languages fluently (namely French and Arabic because I know those two) in some sort of creative industry: entertainment, fashion, advertising, graphic design, etc. I want to have ample vacation time so that I can spend several weeks out of the year freshening up on my language skills, in addition to moving me around the country so that I can live in many different cities. This dream job will not require me to create anything for I am not an artist myself, but I want to work around them and be surrounded by their innovations and creations so that my life is filled with art and style which will inspire my own inventions. I wish to be well respected in this dream job, and work with funny and quirky individuals so that I can be friends with those I work with. I would love to stay at this dream job for a long portion of my life. These items are part of my dream job checklist so hopefully I will enjoy my own provisions!

If this doesn't work out I have 2 options for myself.
1. move to the Middle East, perfect my arabic and become a museum curator and future contemporary Henry Geldzahler in the Middle East.
2. move to South America, probably Brazil or Argentina and learn spanish or portuguese.

Mariel DeLacy

"Dream Job Project" Oh wow. I don't have any of those. I might have to think of one.
Oz Durham

When I start pondering what I actually want to do with my life, the room starts to turn and I find myself doodling or fiddling with my photographs to distract from the immensity of it. Art - whether it be nature photography, drawing/painting (in a characteristically nonsensical fashion), or writing - is something I've done all my short life. But a passion for birds, ornithology, science, conservation always took hold as a goal in life. Up until recently I thought I was on track for a doctorate degree in Evolutionary Biology (I was beginning to research programs). But I realized that I wasn't good at the actual science, I just passionately want to understand the natural world by experience. To be an expert and share that knowledge with others. Somehow I got it into my head that I would be of better service to conservation by popularizing science, writing, photographing, filming, drawing, and being in it. I think maybe I'll head to a MA in Environmental Journalism. Except that I can't leave behind drawing, painting, and photography just for writing (even if it does get me traveling around the world exploring the subject that satiates my hunger for knowledge).

As if he was speaking to me Samuel Johnson once said: "Sir, a man may be so much of everything, that he is nothing of anything." I have pretty much set myself up for disaster, but I can't tear myself away from a dream. To get down to it, my dream job is to explore/popularize/conserve the natural world through mixed media. Write articles for magazines and newspapers, take photographs for the similar output, create drawings and paintings expressing my passions, and throw in a few nature documentaries to boot. Create some sort of environmental art collective. Pull together scientists and artists. Make people care.

There is a lot of gesticulated dreaming going on in the above paragraphs. But I suppose what you can get out of it all is that I want to make a difference in the world and do it through creative measures. I'm not built for policy making or the cut and dry research science however adept I am at understanding the subjects. I'd be willing to do this all for next to nothing but as it turns out, one needs money to live comfortably and have a family to boot.

So - a freelance Science Creative-Documentarian with enough to live comfortably with collaborators and friends around the world.

If that all doesn't work out I'll just live on a farm in Northern Washington.
Brendan McGarry

Michael, This is a very interesting, very obscure investigation you proposed.
One for which I could write at great length about my real and dreamt-of jobs.

Its an exercise, however, which would offer me little utility for creating a more nearly dreamy job. So, your goal addresses your interests far more than mine. At least in this format, I will have to limit my contribute to this.

Best of luck with your project.

Newell Post

My idea job would have the following characteristics:

- Independence to plan my day (ideal wake up time being around 8.45am), I would then do a bit of reading and then be able to do some sort of exercise

- Lunchtime meeting to write my ideas down and discuss whatever I am working on (variety of things including charity work, some research writing, being creative)

- My ideal job would inspire, help and grow others. I could be involved in a business that sells products which helps people's lives. Even if it is a small difference (It has to be ethical, inexpensive and easy to get hold of)

- It would allow me to live very comfortably (so I don't have to worry about bills and can just focus on being me and help others)

- Some element of travel and charity work

- Some element of TV/Media work to have the ability to raise awareness of charity issues (but not for fame)

- The role would be something which inspires other people - especially those who have come from "tougher" backgrounds

- Working with people and children and promoting/involvement in something which is of benefit to others and helps other people to better their lives and hopefully be greater and stronger people!

- Not too scared of working hours etc as long as I can plan majority of my days. I prefer to work all over and would ideally not be confined to a single desk/office!


Meaningful parameters related to a “Dream Job” would include a creative environment that provided all the tools necessary (i.e.: computer, rulers, etc. appropriately), respectful of everyone from designers to production, seeing the value of people as a whole. Flexible with work schedule with maybe a little travel. Always offering fresh ideas competing with others. I really enjoy being on the cutting edge and being well informed. I also find pleasure in really knowing the field that I am in so whether it is service or product based they would really have to strive to be the best. Being a part of a design or creative oriented team, having a balance between the company’s goals and my creative goals would bring me joy.
Michele Stegeman

Meaningful parameters related to a “Dream Job” would include a creative environment that provided all the tools necessary (i.e.: computer, rulers, etc. appropriately), respectful of everyone from designers to production, seeing the value of people as a whole. Flexible with work schedule with maybe a little travel. Always offering fresh ideas competing with others. I really enjoy being on the cutting edge and being well informed. I also find pleasure in really knowing the field that I am in so whether it is service or product based they would really have to strive to be the best. Being a part of a design or creative oriented team, having a balance between the company’s goals and my creative goals would bring me joy.
Michele Stegeman

Dream job....being part of a creative team collaborating on children's films--being around supportive, creative, people who strive to create unique and powerful works of art. Utilizing my talents as a creative writer, voice-overs, puppeteer.
Chelle Bowers

I want to start off by saying I am living my dream at this moment. I started college at the University of Cincinnati straight out of high school in 2001. I was studying Art Education. Since I can remember, all I ever wanted to do with my life was to teach art. Teach art, and teach it passionately. I obviously have a huge spot in my heart for art. I only went to school for about two years, when I decided to stop going. I just couldn’t afford it anymore, and I wasn’t nearly as focused as I should have been. It wasn’t until last year (8 years later) that I finally decided to go back. This time it wasn’t for Art Education. I was very sad about that. Like I said, that was all I ever wanted to be.
      I never thought I would find another major that I would feel as passionate about as Art Education. I was wrong. I decided to go into Graphic Design. Now, I can’t say that I always loved it, but I have fallen in love with it. I found a field that feeds my creative soul. I wanted something that would challenge me and let me express myself at the same time. I wanted something that I could work at independently but still with other people. More than anything, I wanted something that I could see myself doing everyday for the rest of my life. I am sure that I have found what I was looking for.
      After graduating with an Associates Degree, I really hope to find work. I know that the majority of jobs in the field of Graphic Design require a Bachelors Degree and experience in the field as well. If I can’t find work after graduating, I am planning on returning to school to complete my degree at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
      When I do land a job, I hope that it is something in the music industry. I would love to work along side musicians. I would say music is towards the top of my (What I Feel Passionate About) list too. I would love to design album covers, band websites, posters, t-shirts, flyers, stage back-drops and promotional advertisements. Really anything that a band or record label could need designed, I would love to do it. Music and art go hand in hand. They feed off of one another.
      My real dream, my ultimate goal in life is to work for myself. I may sound a little crazy with this idea, but just hear me out. I would love to buy an RV and live in it. I would work from home and travel the world while doing it. I would wake up in a different park every week. I would see different parts of the world while doing something I love. Not only that, I would be working for the best boss ever! Me! I could work when I wanted and sight see in my free time. I would work along side and with my boyfriend who is currently studying Electronic Media. We both want to do something in the music industry. If we start our own company, together we could do just about anything that any band needs. He could do the audio production, while I design the album cover. He could do the music video, while I design the band website. He could also do photography and I could design band merchandise. I feel like we are destined to work together, live together and love together. I don’t need a lot of money or material items, just the necessities to live in order to be happy. Retirement may come one day, but as long as I live my life to its fullest potential I can’t ask for much more. These are my dreams. Like I said, I am living my dream right now. Everyday I am closer to what I hope to become and closer to the life I so greatly desire.
Mary Beth Brackmann

"Dream Job"- I would say this has become a diluted phrase to say the least. In the last six months I have returned to school for graphic design. I am absolutely in love with it. I would say that having a dream job is a concept. I truly believe a person can set themselves up for failure if they assume the entitlement associated with having a "dream job". No person is guaranteed a "dream job". Many people start out with a dream or passion and that fire quickly dims under the pressures of life and finances. Similarly, I have learned jobs in the art field require a lot of resilience. Therefore, each creative spirit should understand that having great ambition requires a great deal of self awareness. Each person needs to know their strengths and their limitations within their craft. Each person must also be aware of the job market of which they intend to be successful. Most importantly, each person should adopt the understanding that "dream job" is about perspective. Not everyone will be a famous artist or infamous actor. Therefore, strive for excellence, but be logical when aiming for your maximum potential. Finally, to acquire a satisfying career you have to fight for it, justify it and above all, make it relevant for success.


I’m gonna start out by saying I do not think I have quite figured out my dream job yet. I have aspired to do many things with my life but sometimes these aspirations and dreams seem unreachable and out of my grasp. As a kid, I wanted to be a Nascar driver. Obviously, I no longer aspire to do this, would it be cool? Yes. Do all kids have huge dreams like this? Yes. But, doesn’t it suck knowing we were so inspired as children and had such huge aspirations and really many times it is just not doable. It’s too bad we lose sight of these things as we get older, and reality kicks in and we realize it’s not practical to go after these dreams.

I just feel like I have too many interest and anytime I get inspired to do something, I get inspired to do too many things, and then don't have the motivation to do all of them. If that makes sense. What I am trying to say is that it is hard for me to pinpoint one specific goal. College has been somewhat of a struggle for me. I started out in an Architecture program my Freshman year. In high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I’ve always been interested in art but it never seemed realistic. So, I thought, hey I’ll give architecture a try, it’s a bit artsy and they make good money. However, it ended up not meeting my expectations. So, I got even more practical and went on to Construction Management, and even more so after that when I went into Engineering. Now, I have finally ended up in Graphic Design, which I enjoy and which inspires me a great amount. When I look back I realize I was too caught up in the money and less caught up in what would truly make me happy.
Right now I do have a few basic goals in mind for my future and my career. After I graduate, I want to be in California. No doubt about that. Preferably southern California, and if we are talking about dreaming, then I’ll just throw it out there and add that I would love to live on the beach. I think a smaller design company where I can have flexible hours and some control over my work would suit me well. As far as salary goes, I would be incredibly happy to someday work my way up to at least $100,000 a year. I mean, I’ve got a lot of loans, and cost of living in California is exactly cheap. Another thing is I want to work at a company that makes me happy. I want to want to go into work everyday. It would be great if my coworkers were also friends. I want to be at a company where everyone is respected. I want to be somewhere where I can make a difference. Even if it is small. I want to be somewhere that shares my values and my interests. I want to work somewhere where the people around me inspire me, and hopefully I can inspire them too. The list goes on. Mostly, my goal and my aspiration is to have a job where I feel like I belong, and where I feel like I am meant to be and that what I am doing means something.

Jobs | February 21