Mike Rowe to College Grads: ‘Don’t Follow Your Passion’
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Mike Rowe to College Grads: ‘Don’t Follow Your Passion’

It’s graduation season. And while the vast majority of commencement speakers are propagating platitudes about chasing your dreams and following your passions, Mike Rowe has a different message for fresh-faced grads who will be looking for jobs.

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It’s graduation season. And while the vast majority of commencement speakers are propagating platitudes about chasing your dreams and following your passions, Mike Rowe has a different message for fresh-faced grads.

Don’t follow your passion.

“Look, if we’re talking about your hobby, by all means let your passion lead you,” Rowe says in a video posted on PragerU.com. “But when it comes to making a living, it’s easy to forget the dirty truth: Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.

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“And just because you’ve earned a degree in your chosen field, doesn’t mean you’re gonna find your ‘dream job.’”

Rowe, an actor who has become the de facto spokesman for the skilled trades, asserts that most “dream jobs” indeed are “dreams.”

“But their imaginary existence just might keep you from exploring careers that offer a legitimate chance to perform meaningful work and develop a genuine passion for the job you already have,” Rowe adds.

‘Terrible Advice’

Rowe, the former host of the Discover Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” has been on a mission to sound the alarm about the lack of interest in the skilled trades and manufacturing – and the shortage of candidates for several million blue-collar jobs. Because high schools and universities steer their grads toward illusory, high-paying dream jobs in fields that are deluged with applicants, young people “have been given some terrible advice,” Rowe asserts.

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“Right now, millions of people with degrees and diplomas are out there competing for a relatively narrow set of opportunities that polite society calls ‘good careers,” Rowe says. “Meanwhile, employers are struggling to fill nearly 5.8 million jobs that nobody’s trained to do. This is the skills gap, it’s real and its cause is actually very simple: When people follow their passion, they miss out on all kinds of opportunities they didn’t even know existed.”

That’s why Rowe cringes when a movie star – in his or her Oscar acceptance speech – invariably implores viewers to follow their passion.

“Look, I understand the importance of persistence, and the value of encouragement, but who tells a stranger to never give up on their dreams, without even knowing what it is they’re dreaming?” Rowe says. “How can Lady Gaga possibly know where your passion will lead you?”

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