ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

Eliott Franklin’s afternoon routine hasn’t changed a whole lot since he graduated top of his class in theatre history and performance media.

The arts graduate checks the tyre pressure on his bicycle, then loads up Kid A by Radiohead for the 40-minute ride to work. He’s a 25-year-old who works weekends – a magical time of the week taken for granted when he had dreams for his future.

He was always good at theatre and history as a high schooler, so Elliot thought it was natural to continue on with his personal strengths at university. He’s still in the bartending job he had while he studied, with no light at the end of the hospitality tunnel.

Seven years on, Franklin is now warning Year 12 students about the dangers of following your passion after school, urging them to challenge themselves by studying something useful.

Speaking to the Class of 2018 at Betoota Central School, Elliot says the bar he currently works at down in Sydney has “destroyed his soul” and has turned him into a bitter person that he barely recognises in the mirror.

“When I was studying, I was completely oblivious to the brick wall I was speeding toward,” explained Franklin, choking back tears.

“In order to me to keep my head above water, I need to work 6 days a week and the only time I have off is a Monday night. The friends I used to have in person now solely exist in WhatsApp. I’m here to tell you that following your passion in life isn’t what society has led people to believe. Just do law or finance or engineering – anything. Just don’t do what makes you happiest in life because you’ll end up without a chair when the music stops,”

“When I’m riding home really late at night and there’s nobody about, I sometimes blow straight through a red light with my arms outstretched listening to Thom Yorke wail and hope a truck cleans me up. That’s the only time I ever feel truly alive anymore, when I put my life in the hands of fate.” he said.

Mr Franklin’s advice comes as thousands of Year 12 students begin their leaving exams around the country. With this small bit of advice, Elliot hopes that the young people of Betoota make the right decision with their university entrance rank.


  1. How does he know if he did something useful it would of been all better? This guy sounds like the guy who gets into something for about two years and quits and does it again with something else, sorry if this is two harsh but are we taking advice from losers now???

  2. It’s interesting that Errol says to ‘do law or finance or engineering…’. Of course, these are really interesting things to study and may lead to a great job. One caveat – we have a culture of encouraging children to study something prestigious if they got the marks for it, which has caused a glut of lawyers and engineers who can’t find work. I really wanted to be a teacher but my parents shouted it down so loudly, I never thought about it again. I studied law, hated it but felt like I couldn’t get out.

    My message is this: if you don’t know what you want to study, don’t study. Seriously. It’s okay to work a bar job when you’re 18 while you’re figuring it out. Less okay if you go and do a degree that does not make you employable because then you’re working in a bar at 25 AND have a HECS debt. Better yet, see if you can raise a few grand and buy a failing business while you’re still living with your parents. Take a year or two to get it off the ground. If you fail, you’re 18 and can get up much easier than when you’re 25 or 30. If you succeed, awesome. Either way you’ve learned something that university doesn’t teach – how to actually be a person interacting with other people in society.

  3. Currently there is no information about graduate employment rates. Many degrees sound great (like a B. Science, B. Maths or B. Business) but don’t have a future. Some degrees are location specific (finance) or location diverse such as B. Teaching.

    It’s not as simple do something you enjoy or something you think has a job at the end of it, and don’t listen to the politicians who think maths, science and Engineering are the future

  4. Hmmm this guy is only 25, whilst I agree the universities in Australia and politican’s need to be held accountable for what they have done to the university system I.e just make it a business pumping out thousands of useless graduates whilst charging studios money from it. This guy can change his life at anytime, go into life instances sales for example. Try and start a business. Or find a apprenticeship/ Cadetship somewhere.

    And don’t so law, there’s already too man jobless bitter lawyers!

  5. As an Arts graduate, I’d just like to point out that there is nobility in even the most menial of jobs and that riding a bicycle, even when one is forced to do so by poverty, is infinitely better for our planet than driving a gas guzzling car. While I’m here, just let me say that I am a vegan and will quite likely begin cross-fit when budgetary constraints ease.

    • Jason, I too am an Art graduate, and also a vegan cyclist. My budgetary constraints eased when I set up my Etsy shop selling hand made coasters made from underground bands played on Triple-J in the late 90’s, at $35 a throw. Now I’m making a healthy living from a combination of that and TV interviews complaining about how I am being undercut by Chinese rip-off merchants.


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