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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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I am living the dream

21 August 2020

If you asked a kid back in the 1960s when I was at school "what do you want to be when you grow up?" the answers were largely predictable.

A fireman, a policeman, a doctor, a builder... these were all aspirational answers from my peers.

From the first day I started school I was convinced that I wanted to be a scientist. That changed however, when I discovered just how much work and schooling would be required to attain this lofty goal. Instead I settled for a more modest role as a "technician" and later as a design "engineer".

Kids today have a totally different outlook apparently and they're no longer interested in those basic jobs or trades. They want to be special!

According to this Yahoo News story, kids today want to be "influencers", app developers and drone pilots.

Of course back in the 1960s, none of these were even "a thing" but today they are the things that school-levers aspire to become.

Hang on a minute...

With a YouTube following of around 400,000 subscribers and two of the most popular RC model flying channels on YouTube I am indeed an "influencer".

Having almost completed a pretty interesting project that involved cutting a fair bit of code (including creating an Android app for tablets and phones), I am indeed an app developer.

And, having spent the last five years building, flying and reviewing drones for money, I am a professional drone pilot.

Woohoo... I AM LIVING THE DREAM!

I am the envy of huge masses of school leavers who'd probably give their right arms to do what I'm doing right now. Not satisified having just one of the dream jobs, I've got three of them!

Ha ha ha... they're aspiring to the very job(s) currently being enjoyed by a 67-year-old baldie.

If only they knew :)

However, I have to say, I can see why people would want to do what I do. It's a hell of a lot of fun, even if it doesn't pay that well.

I get to work the hours I want, I get to play with cool new tech, I get to design and create interesting solutions to problems using hardware and software and I get to zoom around the skies enjoying the freedom of flight (whilst keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground). What's more, every month Google deposits a small sum of money in my account for doing so.

Yeah, I'm a happy camper!

So what are the chances of today's school leavers achieving the goal of making a go of one of these career paths?

Well if someone's prepared to learn hard, work hard and shows a degree of aptitude then becoming a successful code-cutter is pretty straight forward. Sadly however, just being a code-cutter can be a soul-destroying job. Always having to create systems that others have designed is not that fulfilling. It's even less fulfilling when you are writing just a part of those systems so you can't even enjoy the reward of claiming ownership of the final result.

For me, code-cutting only becomes really enjoyable when you're also designing the system and you're the "one guy" who takes it all the way from concept to "commissioned".

Want to be a drone pilot instead?

Don't hold your breath!

There are far more "wannabe drone pilots" than there are jobs for same.

Despite all the media hype, the drone industry remains very small, with only a handful of people in this country actually engaged in anything like full-time work. Real-estate photography is often done by the agent themselves (or their kid with a DJI drone) and things such as surveying or inspections are the domain of specialist operators who have large sums of money tied up in their uber-expensive drones. Getting in the door to one of these companies is nigh on impossible.

As for being an influencer...

Well I think it's a lot like wanting to be a movie star, and just as unlikely.

Every year, huge numbers of people head off to LA and Hollywood with aspirations of becoming a successful actor in the movie or TV industries. Every year, almost every one of those people spend their time waiting tables or working in bars so as to pay the rent while waiting for their "big break". Sadly, that "big break" is about as likely as winning the lottery.

And so it is with your odds of becoming "an influencer".

So how did I do it?

Well I guess I'm the exception that proves the rule.

Many years ago, when still at school, I was told (after applying for a job in the media) that I had the perfect face for radio and the ideal voice for print. I still believe that to be the case to this day. I aint no oil-painting and my voice is hardly rich and resonating like that of James Earl Jones. This is why most of my involvement in the media has been by way of the written word.

So how did I make it as an "influencer", with all these things working against me?

In a word... timing.

I started using YouTube shortly after it was launched. I was one of the very few people making videos about RC model aircraft and so, for those interested in such things, there wasn't much else to watch apart from my channels.

As a result, I got heaps of subscribers... and (lucky for me) I've kept them to this day.

If I was to try and start again today I really doubt I'd appear above the noise-floor and would have no chance of becoming the "influencer" that I am.

It just goes to prove that when it comes to the media (social at least) a gramme of luck is worth a Kilo of talent!

For as long as it lasts (or I last), I'll continue to enjoy every day of my "dream" existance and I guess I'll be the envy of millions of school-leavers as I do so.

Gloat!!!!!

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