Mike Rowe is best known for hosting “Dirty Jobs,” the Discovery Channel series in which he tackled some of the least glamorous jobs out there: cleaning up roadkill, emptying septic tanks and artificially inseminating cows, for example.
Now, after having tried his hand at pretty much every job under the sun, Rowe has some advice for the next generation of skilled workers, many of whom will pursue careers in field service: Forget your passion and pursue opportunity.
“When you follow your passion, when you follow your dream, when you grow up being told that you’re a precious little snowflake and all you have to do is look inward and identify that thing in you that you want more than anything else, that’s a trap,” he says.
Sage advice coming from Rowe, who’s made a name for himself by championing the blue collar jobs that keep this country running. He’s got a new TV gig at CNN, and Rowe’s passion for the trades led him to found the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, a non-profit group that advocates for skilled trades jobs and offers scholarships for those interested in mastering a trade.
Rowe’s mission is simple: “[To] help close the skills gap by encouraging men and women to get the training they need to pursue good jobs that actually exist,” he says on his website.
Most recently, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation partnered with Direct Energy, the largest home services provider in the HVAC, plumbing and electrical industries, to collect $100,000 in scholarships.
Rowe says his foray into blue collar jobs was inspired by his grandfather, who abandoned school after the 7th grade and went on to become a “master electrician and jack-of-all-trades.”
“He was just one of those guys who was born hard-wired knowing how things work,” Rowe tells Fast Company. “He was a magician to me, and so I wanted very much to follow in his footsteps.”