Should I have admitted to the monkey business?
September 1, 2011 5:38 AM   Subscribe

Did I say the wrong thing on my application for a vocational course?

After a decade spent in admin/office work, I'm taking some time out of employment to get the necessary training and voluntary experience for a career change. One of my greatest passions* is for animals, nature and the outdoors. With that in mind, I've applied for a part-time course leading to a certificate in animal care. I'm told the part-time courses are relatively easy to get into, but I'm still nervous.

On my application, I had to explain why I was interested in taking the course. I said that I'd had a lifelong interest in animals, and also that I'd been encouraged by a "keeper for the day" experience at a monkey sanctuary. This involved helping the keepers out with their everyday tasks, like cleaning poo from the enclosures, chopping fruits and vegetables for the monkeys' dinner, etc. I know there are a lot of folks who like the idea of working with nice cuddly animals, but aren't prepared for the more mundane and smelly aspects of it. But this experience convinced me that I could handle the gritty stuff as well -- in fact, I liked cleaning up monkey poop a lot more than I like sitting through PowerPoint presentations!

That's what I meant to convey, but now I'm worried that I came across as a dilettante -- "I did this for one day, so naturally I can do it as a career."

What do you think? Will mentioning this experience help my application, hurt it or make no difference? If this application falls through and I need to apply elsewhere, should I take a different approach in future?


* The other great passion is writing poetry and short stories, but I don't think I could cope with the massive riches that would bring me.
posted by Perodicticus potto to Education (6 answers total)
I think you're fine. They just want to see that you have some kind of genuine interest in the course. What you said sounds fine to me. Don't worry about it.
posted by lwb at 5:44 AM on September 1, 2011

Lots of people are motivated to try something new after a short experience. You're applying for a course, not a job, and the course itself (I'd imagine) is also to help you figure out if the work is right for you, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.
posted by xingcat at 5:51 AM on September 1, 2011

If I were admitting students to that program, I'd probably be more worried about admitting snowflakes who won't touch poop than dilettantes. But I don't think it makes you sound like one anyway.
posted by parkerjackson at 5:53 AM on September 1, 2011

Best answer: I think you're good - you had a lifelong interest, you did something to explore that interest, and that helped you to see that you'd like to learn more about it. You're taking the class so that you'll be able to learn and experience enough to do it as a career, so I think your approach is very reasonable.
posted by mrs. taters at 6:30 AM on September 1, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks very much for your advice, everyone - I really appreciate it. Sadly, it turns out this particular course has now fallen through for unrelated reasons (they don't actually offer it at the time and location stated - it was a mistake on their website, of all things!), but you've helped me feel confident I'm taking the right approach. Thank you!
posted by Perodicticus potto at 11:20 AM on September 1, 2011

Response by poster: Hello, me again. Turns out there was a breakdown of communication (ah, college administration, how I've missed you) and the course hasn't fallen through - I'll get an interview date shortly. However, they told me that based on the experience I'd listed on my application ... I might be able to start at a higher level than I'd applied for! :-) So you guys were right. Thanks again!
posted by Perodicticus potto at 4:53 AM on September 2, 2011

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