When we think about what is called our “human capital” in the business world, this is essentially a list of our skills, our attributes, but also, at the same time, a reflection on how our skills may possibly fit into the capitalist workplace.
One of my skills is that I am bilingual. I also speak Spanish, which is an important skill to have, especially when one considers the growing Latino community in the United States. Being bilingual gives an individual an immediate advantage in the workplace, since the possibilities of communication are open. Many jobs require bilingual skills. For example, some surveyors on telephone also need to know Spanish. Translation jobs are also of need, such as translating web content from English into Spanish or vice versa. This skill, however, could also be combined with other educational skills pursued in higher education, such as social work. A good bilingual counsellor, for example, will have an advantage over others in helping specific communities. While at the same time, it can be argued that because of the large Latino population, the mastery of Spanish is not a scarce commodity, it is an important bridge between cultures and certainly gives the prospective worker an advantage over others who can only speak one language. I think for this reason, depending upon the type of work chosen, such as translation work, a wage quite significantly above the minimum wage is possible to attain. The aim would be to use my language skills and then combine them with another area, so as to maximize the potential of my human capital.
I also am a good cook. I have been told by friends and family that I have an innate ability to prepare great meals. I have above all been praised for my ability to make fantastic foods from a minimum of available materials. This is typical for student life, where finances are low and when the fridge is often empty. Cooking has grown in importance in the American cultural landscape. There are entire television channels dedicated to food and its consumption. From another perspective, however, such a talent cannot be considered a rarity. There are thousands if not millions of restaurants in the United States and each of these employs a cook, many of them illegally, because of the high availability of workers. The restaurant business has always been, as Anthony Bourdain notes, a home for vagabonds and outcasts. Therefore, this type of job is never high paying. Accordingly, a this asset of human capital, unfortunately, would not pay the minimum wage or something slightly above the minimum wage if one is fortunate.
Another skill I have is the ability to play a musical instrument, the drums. I have been playing the drums for some time. However, it is somewhat of a cliché, but musicians are normally not well paid. Certainly, there are exceptions, but these are the rarities as opposed to the norm. If one can play a musical instrument, perhaps one could find a job in a band or as an instructor. However, most musicians that I am familiar with have day jobs and play music as a hobby. Therefore, the wage expected for this type of job is most likely zero, to the extent that I would be unable to find a job solely because of this skill. If I could find a job, it would not be high paying, most likely only receiving a share of the money for a gig at a local bar or restaurant if I did play in a band.