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View Poll Results: Was your career in the same field as your undergrad major?.
yes 35 50.00%
no 27 38.57%
didn't go to college 8 11.43%
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College majors and future careers
Old 07-22-2009, 10:30 AM   #1
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College majors and future careers

Inspired by Sam's questions about his nephew's psychology major, I wonder who ended up having a career in the same field as their undergrad major. I was a psych/philosophy major and considered grad school in both fields, but ended up in the law due to worries about finding work down the road. (How many jobs for philosophy or psychology professors are there?) Never thought about the law until I was nearly done with college.

So what was your major and what was your career? Or did you go to college at all?
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:00 AM   #2
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I voted "no". My undergraduate work was not in the same field as my career, but in two related fields (B.S., electrical engineering, B.A., marine biology). However my career is in precisely the same field as my graduate degrees (physical oceanography).

My brother got an undergrad degree in psychology (double major with political science), went to Vietnam and came back, got an MBA and some Ph.D work at Harvard business, worked at a big accounting firm for a few years, taught computer science at university in Europe, worked as a systems analyst, tried out starting a small business (a store that sold games), and finally settled down in his long time and surprisingly lucrative career writing software as a consultant, about 25 or 30 years ago.

I think his psychology degree helped him a lot. The degree itself didn't qualify him for much but grad school. However the knowledge of psychology was invaluable and he used it a great deal in the workplace.
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:18 AM   #3
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I think your question is misleading for liberal arts majors.

Does an econ major have to be an economist or econ professor to be considered employed in his/her field? Or, would working in the loan dept at a bank be close enough?

If you are a poli sci major (common for pre-law) and then go to law school, does employment as an ambulance chasing law suite specialist qualify as working in your field? Or would you have to be a politician or a poli sci professor?

If an accounting major is a entrepreneur, does opening his/her own retail business count as working in his/her field if she/he keeps her/his own books?

Etc.

I don't think most liberal arts majors will be able to answer. The question seems to apply more to vocational orientated majors.
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:34 AM   #4
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My degree was in communication. Since every job I've had required the ability to talk, I answered yes.

Kidding!

I actually have used the degree-public speaking, writing, putting theory into practice. It has been very beneficial.
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:36 AM   #5
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As things have turned out in my career (with a CS degree), the most valuable skill I've developed is the ability to explain IT-related technobabble to managers.
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:43 AM   #6
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Undergrad BS in Civil Engineering and a BA in Spanish Literature and Language. Currently practicing civil engineering. I got a law degree straight out of undergrad but decided to do engineering. I am currently exploring re-entering the legal field in a field that requires an engineering or other science degree.

I have used my Spanish degree very little. I did a little Pro Bono work during law school in the hispanic community (translating for and counseling domestic violence clients, a little immigration work, and tax work through VITA at the Hispanic community center, etc).
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:47 AM   #7
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I voted yes, although I didn't graduate from college. My declared major as a freshman was "Computer Science", and that's what I've been doing since I was 19.
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:12 PM   #8
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I have a business degree, but I intended to fly for the Air Force from the start of college. All that was needed was a degree, it did not matter in what. So from that point the answer would be no. However after the first career, I used parts of my major in management.
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
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I have a business degree, but I intended to fly for the Air Force from the start of college. All that was needed was a degree, it did not matter in what.
Another sign of the times. My dad was able to become a pilot in the Air Force with a high school diploma (in the 1950s).

"Education creep" continues to persist in almost all endeavors. I wonder when you'll need at least an associate degree to run the register at McDonald's.
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:25 PM   #10
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undergrad in mechanical engineering; masters in biomedical engineering - in the AF don't use either - in civilian job/business use masters degree - went back to grad school to have career in biomed
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:46 PM   #11
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:56 PM   #12
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AA degree in Criminal Justice, then went to work with the county police department, slowly finished the BS in CJ later on. The CJ degree requires a smattering of everything, psychology, math, physics, political science, philosophy, and of course a heavier emphasis on law.

It makes sense, given the almost infinite variety of situations one has to deal with.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by youbet View Post
I think your question is misleading for liberal arts majors.

Does an econ major have to be an economist or econ professor to be considered employed in his/her field? Or, would working in the loan dept at a bank be close enough?

If you are a poli sci major (common for pre-law) and then go to law school, does employment as an ambulance chasing law suite specialist qualify as working in your field? Or would you have to be a politician or a poli sci professor?

If an accounting major is a entrepreneur, does opening his/her own retail business count as working in his/her field if she/he keeps her/his own books?

Etc.

I don't think most liberal arts majors will be able to answer. The question seems to apply more to vocational orientated majors.
Sometimes you have to keep it simple. You can always explain your vote. I know two econ majors, both are Phd economists. Accounting majors who start a business aren't accountants, they are business men who might have found accounting helpful. But that is only my opinion. What is interesting is what we hear in the individual stories.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:02 PM   #14
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Associate degree on electrical engineering technology (); yes.

Bachelor degree in bidness; no.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:18 PM   #15
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I voted Yes.

BS in Forest Management
MS in Forest Engineering/Civil Engineering

My career involved work in various natural resource jobs (forester, logging engineer, fire management) with a federal land management agency. For a couple of years just after college, I worked in the private sector for one of the large paper companies (as a forester/timber cruiser).
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:26 PM   #16
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BA in Economics and a career as a computer programmer.

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Old 07-22-2009, 07:04 PM   #17
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College Degree - B.S. in Education
Career - Accounting, then Full Time Mom/Domestic Engineer, school crossing guard, concert venue usher, and most recently Tax Preparer.

On the other hand, DH has a Bachelor's degree in Social Work and a Master's in Social Administration. He works at a social service agency in a position that requires a Master's degree.

Our older son has a B.S. in Computer Science and works as a Computer Network Technician.

The younger son has one more semester (and we have one more payment!!) and then he'll have a B.A. in Theatre/Entertainment Arts/Tech - Sound. He has a lot of experience as a sound designer for musical theatre so that's what he hopes to work in as a career, but he can also be a sound engineer and sound operator. He'll also have a certificate in stage rigging.
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:03 PM   #18
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B.A in the Great Books program. Perfect preparation for shoveling horse manure, auto mechanicing, mushroom growing, buying and fixing old houses and apartments, and enjoying most all people. Great four years - had a lot of admiration for my classmates though, per normal, i really didn't fit the mold.
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:07 PM   #19
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In high school I selected a specific major in science. I only applied to colleges that had that as a major. I ended up with BA and PhD degrees in that major. I was co-author on 2 papers from my undergraduate research and kept going from there. I became a professor in the same field. I left academic science and worked in a company doing exactly the same thing I did as a professor, but with title of VP. I remain in the exact same field of science to this day, but I am halfway out to pasture and have a fancy title to go with that. Folks pay me to teach courses and workshops in my area of expertise around the world. It's a virtually costless way to travel.

Early on in my life, I read "What Color Is Your Parachute?" which I recall has 2 main themes: (1) Find out what you love to do and (2) Find out where you would love to do it. I've been blessed that it's all worked out for me so far.
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:10 PM   #20
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Degree in nursing and that is what I did for many years in various areas .
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