Author Topic: I don't know what to do with my major!  (Read 13296 times)

nobody123

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I don't know what to do with my major!
« on: December 15, 2016, 12:01:47 PM »
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/15/why-college-grads-cant-find-jobs-commentary.html

Who the heck picks a major without knowing what job they want to get using it and other jobs it qualifies them for?  WTF.  Why did you go to college anyway?

Renegade23

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2016, 12:09:16 PM »
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/15/why-college-grads-cant-find-jobs-commentary.html

Who the heck picks a major without knowing what job they want to get using it and other jobs it qualifies them for?  WTF.  Why did you go to college anyway?

Eh, for some majors I totally get this. People who love literature and major in English are pretty common. My cousin did that and realized he had no idea what to do. So he went to law school. Its a common phenomenon. As long as you avoid Underwater Basket Weaving there is usually a reasonable use for a degree, or at least a follow on degree that leads to something.

History majors become corporate researchers or work for law firms etc. etc.

ysette9

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2016, 12:10:38 PM »
Channeling my 18/19 year-old self: I knew that I needed to go to college because that was the general path for being successful in life, whatever "successful" meant (probably  self-supporting). In HS the conversations around which major to choose all seemed to center around what subject tapped into our inner "true self" and would align with our passions. What you would do with that major pretty much never came up unless you wanted to get into the nursing school program or something obvious like that. We didn't seem to have adults talking to us about what types of jobs you can get with what majors. No one's parents talked about specifics of money, so no one knew how much their parents made. Money was extremely abstract for a long time, so when I was debating between majoring in French or Chemistry, job prospects didn't factor in at all. I went into engineering in part because my boyfriend was majoring in engineering. Thank god I fell into a lucrative major because I could have easily ended up with something unmarketable with no one nudging me towards something I could use to pay rent at the end. It's easy to look back with the wisdom of all the years and experience we have now, but I was (we were) very, very young and naive at 18.

RWD

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2016, 12:27:15 PM »
When I was in high school we had a project where we had to research various careers and do a presentation on one. We had to look up the average salary of the careers. That project was one of the biggest reasons why I chose to study computer science. I pretty much looked for the highest paying job I had a reasonable amount of interest in.

ysette9

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2016, 12:38:58 PM »
@RWD: Now that sounds like a fantastic project to do in HS. I wish we had done something like that.

EricL

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2016, 12:49:32 PM »
Yeah. My 1986 high school guidance counselor talked me out of computer science because "there won't be enough jobs to match the applicants". If I ran into him today I'd break his kneecaps.

charis

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2016, 12:49:55 PM »
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/15/why-college-grads-cant-find-jobs-commentary.html

Who the heck picks a major without knowing what job they want to get using it and other jobs it qualifies them for?  WTF.  Why did you go to college anyway?

Many, if not most, college kids.

nobody123

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2016, 01:03:09 PM »
My point is that even after completing a degree, they have no idea what it qualifies them for.  Fine, if you want to study English / Art / Computer Science / whatever their "passion" is, more power to them.  But how on earth do you enter the "real world" without knowing what the heck you can do professionally with that degree?

I was in college in the late 90s, and almost everyone I met had their elevator speech about what their dream job was and why their major was the best way of getting it.  And I went to a middle of the road state school.  I can't imagine putting the work in for 4 years without some plan for how it helps you later in life.  How the heck do their parents not give a crap, even if the student doesnt?

frugalnacho

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2016, 01:07:07 PM »
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/15/why-college-grads-cant-find-jobs-commentary.html

Who the heck picks a major without knowing what job they want to get using it and other jobs it qualifies them for?  WTF.  Why did you go to college anyway?

Many, if not most, college kids.

That's insanity.  The entire purpose of getting a degree is to then work your life away at some profession.  Who doesn't look literally one step ahead?!

Just Joe

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2016, 01:08:17 PM »
Parents don't know any more about their children's major of than the kid does.

Cooperative Studies - that is how you go to college. Work a semester, school for a semester. Save your money and pay for your tuition.  Resume isn't empty on graduation day. Done right this can lead to a first post-degree job.

We did something in high school called "Job Shadowing". It was a day with someone in the profession that you thought you wanted to pursue. There were a few shortcomings though. I recall the quality of the experience varying between different hosts. And I recall it was only one day. Would be better if it was several half-days over the course of your school year with different hosts to compare and contrast.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 01:13:38 PM by Tasty Pinecones »

MgoSam

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2016, 01:43:04 PM »
This doesn't surprise me. Since I was a kid I knew I was going to college, the concept is just so ingrained. In hindsight, I wish I took a year off to work or volunteer or see the real world rather than going straight to college. That year off would have matured me and given me more perspective on hard work and where my interests truly lie. From time to time I think what my family's reaction would have been had I suggested that. I'm guessing speechless since I can't think of a single relative of this generation that hasn't gone to college after high school.

I think the concept of putting a bunch of kids in school since childhood and then saying, "You're an adult, now decide on your major," is insane.

The lucky part for me was that my parents had saved for my college tuition so I got out without debt.

mm1970

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2016, 02:00:33 PM »
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/15/why-college-grads-cant-find-jobs-commentary.html

Who the heck picks a major without knowing what job they want to get using it and other jobs it qualifies them for?  WTF.  Why did you go to college anyway?

Many, if not most, college kids.

That's insanity.  The entire purpose of getting a degree is to then work your life away at some profession.  Who doesn't look literally one step ahead?!

It depends really.  For me, that was totally true.  I was the first in my family to go to college - so there was literally no point unless it could get me a better job.

However, I get the impression that in the "old days" (before my time) - there were 2 types of people
- those who got a degree for a particular job
- those who furthered their education because that's what you DID.  And because few people did, it guaranteed you a good paying job.

I honestly feel like there are vast swaths of first and second gen college students whose parents told them that a degree was a ticket to a good job.  But they don't know what KIND of degree.  So, the parents don't know either because they either got a good job because they had "a degree" or they didn't go to college.

rachellynn99

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2016, 02:01:55 PM »
I'm a professor at a 4 year university and part of my role is advising our majors. They'll be seniors in my field and still not have a clue. No clue. Some just continue on to grad school- still with no clue on what they want to do. Of course some do have a vision, but I'm amazed at those that do not have any inkling.

Warlord1986

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2016, 02:15:20 PM »
When I went to college the only advice my mother gave me was a very smug and self-satisfied speech about how, 'You're going to college to broaden your horizons, not get rich.'

And that's how I ended up majoring in Communications and not having a clue about what I wanted to do with myself after graduation. I'll give you a minute to stop laughing.

My major might've been stupid, but I served as a Reservist in the Army, so I came out with a track record of employment and some marketable skills. Having DONE something was far more important than the degree, and that set me on my current career path. You can choose a dumb major and still learn stuff and pick up hard and soft skills that employers want.

MgoSam is right about the benefits of a break year. I wish that had been possible, but I can't imagine that I would have gotten anything but gaslighting and bullshit had I brought up the subject.

okobrien

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2016, 02:27:54 PM »
As a teacher in a public HS for seven years, this is how I saw it:
Kids spend a shit ton of their lives in school and are greatly influenced by the teachers, counselors, and admin.  Most people  who work in education have some sort of worthless* degree.  For example, my undergrad degree is "Liberal Arts with a Social Sciences Concentration".  It doesn't get much more useless than that.  Think about the other degrees that fill a school, music, English, Spanish, art, education, history, etc.

Now think about the kind of people who work in schools, they usually have a love of education for the sake of education.  There is nothing wrong with that, but there are very few people in the education world who have any idea about making a living in anything outside of education.  Because of this, our kids get years of advice about college from people who don't know how to look at it from an investment perspective.  They constantly say, "Do what you love and the money will come."  They honestly don't know that there is anything more to it than that.


*I actually think these worthless degrees can be great for encouraging thought, but probably not worth it at the current price tags.

Travis

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2016, 02:34:50 PM »
When I went to college the only advice my mother gave me was a very smug and self-satisfied speech about how, 'You're going to college to broaden your horizons, not get rich.'

And that's how I ended up majoring in Communications and not having a clue about what I wanted to do with myself after graduation. I'll give you a minute to stop laughing.

My major might've been stupid, but I served as a Reservist in the Army, so I came out with a track record of employment and some marketable skills. Having DONE something was far more important than the degree, and that set me on my current career path. You can choose a dumb major and still learn stuff and pick up hard and soft skills that employers want.

MgoSam is right about the benefits of a break year. I wish that had been possible, but I can't imagine that I would have gotten anything but gaslighting and bullshit had I brought up the subject.

I'm in the same boat.  My degrees are in something I'm good at and I really enjoy.  They're not necessarily a shoe-in for a high paying career.  Thankfully the Army has never cared what my degree was in.  This may come to bite me in the rear when I get out of the Army and my degree matters again.  Then again I now have years of practical experience and my degree may just be an entry on a form.

In high school the "guidance" counselors were of the mind "if you can even get into a university from this high school, then congrats."  What to get a degree in never entered the conversation.  My tutorial on pursuing grants and scholarships was "there's the computer, knock yourself out." 

Giving someone grief at age 18 for not figuring out what degree will make them successful at age 22 may not be entirely fair, but if you have someone give you a little help on figuring out where your degree can fit in other not-so-obvious ways that would make a huge difference.  I know of people who turned "basket weaver" type degrees into fairly successful careers by leveraging the secondary skill sets they learned from that degree program.  All of that being said, you probably can't go wrong with a STEM program.

BlueHouse

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2016, 02:39:37 PM »
My point is that even after completing a degree, they have no idea what it qualifies them for.  Fine, if you want to study English / Art / Computer Science / whatever their "passion" is, more power to them.  But how on earth do you enter the "real world" without knowing what the heck you can do professionally with that degree?
uh, maybe because college degrees don't always make you qualified for anything.  My degree was just to get a piece of paper so that I could apply for all the jobs that required a college degree.  But entry level positions exist because they don't expect you to know anything. 
Quote
I was in college in the late 90s, and almost everyone I met had their elevator speech about what their dream job was and why their major was the best way of getting it.  And I went to a middle of the road state school.  I can't imagine putting the work in for 4 years without some plan for how it helps you later in life.  How the heck do their parents not give a crap, even if the student doesnt?
I had an elevator speech about why I would be an excellent hire and it revolved around my work ethic and my ability to learn quickly and execute well. 

My idea of what I was going to do when I graduated was that I would go and work for whoever would hire me for the most money in a job that didn't seem awful. 

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2016, 01:20:40 AM »
Parents don't know any more about their children's major of than the kid does.

Cooperative Studies - that is how you go to college. Work a semester, school for a semester. Save your money and pay for your tuition.  Resume isn't empty on graduation day. Done right this can lead to a first post-degree job.

We did something in high school called "Job Shadowing". It was a day with someone in the profession that you thought you wanted to pursue. There were a few shortcomings though. I recall the quality of the experience varying between different hosts. And I recall it was only one day. Would be better if it was several half-days over the course of your school year with different hosts to compare and contrast.

Is "Job Shadowing" not common? We have it in the UK and it is typically a week (sometimes a week at 15/16 and a week at 17/18). It isn't perfect and often the schools with more rich parents can offer much better placements than the schools with fewer rich parents. I did it and it taught me a lot about what I did and didn't want.

A big issue is that many teachers have either always known that they wanted to teach, or have got a degree and then ended up teaching because they didn't know what to do with it. These are not the ideal experiences for helping young adults pick out their college degrees.

kimmarg

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2016, 08:20:46 AM »
When I was in high school we had a project where we had to research various careers and do a presentation on one. We had to look up the average salary of the careers. That project was one of the biggest reasons why I chose to study computer science. I pretty much looked for the highest paying job I had a reasonable amount of interest in.

The local high school (maybe junior high? 9th or 10th grade) has students job shadow for 1 week. They can pick any job in the community and they have to find out a bunch of questions about the job and follow them around for the week. Everything from what hours do you work, what do you have to wear to work, what the salary is, what education and training you need to do the job. Our office gets a kid pretty much every year. I work in a federal scientific job in an office building. Sometimes we get kids who are really interested in our field and sometimes we get kids who are like "whoa I might have to go to work at 6am and I can't wear a baggy sweatshirt??" Honestly I'm just as happy when we let someone shadow who decides they *dont* want to do my job as the reverse because either way it makes them think about it.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2016, 08:22:09 AM »
Parents don't know any more about their children's major of than the kid does.

Cooperative Studies - that is how you go to college. Work a semester, school for a semester. Save your money and pay for your tuition.  Resume isn't empty on graduation day. Done right this can lead to a first post-degree job.

We did something in high school called "Job Shadowing". It was a day with someone in the profession that you thought you wanted to pursue. There were a few shortcomings though. I recall the quality of the experience varying between different hosts. And I recall it was only one day. Would be better if it was several half-days over the course of your school year with different hosts to compare and contrast.

Is "Job Shadowing" not common? We have it in the UK and it is typically a week (sometimes a week at 15/16 and a week at 17/18). It isn't perfect and often the schools with more rich parents can offer much better placements than the schools with fewer rich parents. I did it and it taught me a lot about what I did and didn't want.

A big issue is that many teachers have either always known that they wanted to teach, or have got a degree and then ended up teaching because they didn't know what to do with it. These are not the ideal experiences for helping young adults pick out their college degrees.

Most young adults have only a very vague idea of what specific professionals actually do. Unless they have a parent in the same line of work that they want, all kids really get to see are teachers, nurses, and to a limited extent doctors.


Warlord1986

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2016, 08:58:47 AM »
When I went to college the only advice my mother gave me was a very smug and self-satisfied speech about how, 'You're going to college to broaden your horizons, not get rich.'

And that's how I ended up majoring in Communications and not having a clue about what I wanted to do with myself after graduation. I'll give you a minute to stop laughing.

My major might've been stupid, but I served as a Reservist in the Army, so I came out with a track record of employment and some marketable skills. Having DONE something was far more important than the degree, and that set me on my current career path. You can choose a dumb major and still learn stuff and pick up hard and soft skills that employers want.

MgoSam is right about the benefits of a break year. I wish that had been possible, but I can't imagine that I would have gotten anything but gaslighting and bullshit had I brought up the subject.

I'm in the same boat.  My degrees are in something I'm good at and I really enjoy.  They're not necessarily a shoe-in for a high paying career.  Thankfully the Army has never cared what my degree was in.  This may come to bite me in the rear when I get out of the Army and my degree matters again.  Then again I now have years of practical experience and my degree may just be an entry on a form.

In high school the "guidance" counselors were of the mind "if you can even get into a university from this high school, then congrats."  What to get a degree in never entered the conversation.  My tutorial on pursuing grants and scholarships was "there's the computer, knock yourself out." 

Giving someone grief at age 18 for not figuring out what degree will make them successful at age 22 may not be entirely fair, but if you have someone give you a little help on figuring out where your degree can fit in other not-so-obvious ways that would make a huge difference.  I know of people who turned "basket weaver" type degrees into fairly successful careers by leveraging the secondary skill sets they learned from that degree program.  All of that being said, you probably can't go wrong with a STEM program.

I never saw my high school guidance counselor. I didn't know I could ask her for anything except for permission to switch my lunch break around so I could be with my friends. My mom told me not to apply for grants and scholarships, and my clinical depression and low self-esteem told me to avoid STEM like the plague.

I still figured something out, did stuff, and pieced together a career. I have sympathy for people who chose a non-lucrative major, but I have no sympathy for people who choose a non-lucrative major and then sit around whining about it. If you don't know what you want to do, pick something and see if you like it. If you don't, then you can try something else. My stint in retail convinced me that wasn't where I wanted to go, but it also showed me the similarities between a well-run store and the military (good communication, well-defined chain of command, solid leadership at all levels). Scoring standardized tests wasn't the bestest best dream job ever, but I got a little bit of managerial experience when I was promoted to team leader for a project. Working for a poorly run non-profit was God-awful, but I got to work on a major grant that boosted my career.

Majoring in Communication wasn't the best decision I ever made, but ffs it's not a death sentence. And it's not a death sentence for anyone else.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2016, 09:11:29 AM »
Parents don't know any more about their children's major of than the kid does.

Cooperative Studies - that is how you go to college. Work a semester, school for a semester. Save your money and pay for your tuition.  Resume isn't empty on graduation day. Done right this can lead to a first post-degree job.

We did something in high school called "Job Shadowing". It was a day with someone in the profession that you thought you wanted to pursue. There were a few shortcomings though. I recall the quality of the experience varying between different hosts. And I recall it was only one day. Would be better if it was several half-days over the course of your school year with different hosts to compare and contrast.

Is "Job Shadowing" not common? We have it in the UK and it is typically a week (sometimes a week at 15/16 and a week at 17/18). It isn't perfect and often the schools with more rich parents can offer much better placements than the schools with fewer rich parents. I did it and it taught me a lot about what I did and didn't want.

A big issue is that many teachers have either always known that they wanted to teach, or have got a degree and then ended up teaching because they didn't know what to do with it. These are not the ideal experiences for helping young adults pick out their college degrees.

Most young adults have only a very vague idea of what specific professionals actually do. Unless they have a parent in the same line of work that they want, all kids really get to see are teachers, nurses, and to a limited extent doctors.

This was my problem. I didn't know what jobs existed, my teachers weren't hugely helpful (apart from repeatedly saying that because I was smart I should study Medicine and be a doctor). In my school there were a vast number of people who wanted to be in either the emergency services or to be hairdressers. I'm sure it was just because those were the jobs we'd interacted with.

I was all about the maths and not one person suggested accountancy or actuarial work. I genuinely thought that if I studied maths or physics the only thing I could do was teach maths or physics. In my defence, every person I'd met up to that point who had studied maths or physics was in fact a teacher. Having the internet would have probably helped.

trollwithamustache

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2016, 09:45:02 AM »
The schools tell kids are constantly told to follow their passion or make their passion their job, ect. So they pursue passions. They are also told student debt is totally OK and a good idea.  Its not surprising they listen to figures of authority...


mm1970

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2016, 10:14:18 AM »
Parents don't know any more about their children's major of than the kid does.

Cooperative Studies - that is how you go to college. Work a semester, school for a semester. Save your money and pay for your tuition.  Resume isn't empty on graduation day. Done right this can lead to a first post-degree job.

We did something in high school called "Job Shadowing". It was a day with someone in the profession that you thought you wanted to pursue. There were a few shortcomings though. I recall the quality of the experience varying between different hosts. And I recall it was only one day. Would be better if it was several half-days over the course of your school year with different hosts to compare and contrast.

Is "Job Shadowing" not common? We have it in the UK and it is typically a week (sometimes a week at 15/16 and a week at 17/18). It isn't perfect and often the schools with more rich parents can offer much better placements than the schools with fewer rich parents. I did it and it taught me a lot about what I did and didn't want.

A big issue is that many teachers have either always known that they wanted to teach, or have got a degree and then ended up teaching because they didn't know what to do with it. These are not the ideal experiences for helping young adults pick out their college degrees.

Most young adults have only a very vague idea of what specific professionals actually do. Unless they have a parent in the same line of work that they want, all kids really get to see are teachers, nurses, and to a limited extent doctors.
Heck I'm 46 and I still don't know what a lot of professionals do.  I find it's a good icebreaker though at parties.  "What do you do?"  "What is your day like?"  "How did you get into that line of work?"

I mean, I'm fine if my boys become engineers or computer scientists, but it would be nice to know about other things.

Freedom Invested

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #25 on: December 16, 2016, 02:39:46 PM »
Threads like this remind me of how lucky I was and I am thankful for that. I do feel sorry for those that didn't get much guidance.

My brothers and I all ended up in well paying STEM careers due in part to our dad buying us a computer when it was really expensive to do so. Additionally, he's one of the hardest working people I know, so we had his good model to help. Then my mom opened Roth IRAs for us when we were each 18.

I can easily see how someone who had a vastly different upbringing might end up in a less fortunate major/career.

It'd be great if we did job shadowing here as I'd love to tell younger folks sure, pursue your passions if you can. But picking something you enjoy that isn't your passion and still pays well can be good... especially if you're going to retire early. ;)



« Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 08:16:50 AM by Freedom Invested »

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2016, 02:52:27 PM »
I think the 'passion' thing is over sold to kids. When I heard it as a teenager it sounded like I didn't need to do any work, didn't need to create anything, didn't even really need to think too much about what I wanted to do: some magic passion will arrive and you'll have fun and people will pay you for it.

I now know people who have jobs they are passionate about, and I agree that they have a different view to me, they see a bigger picture in their work. But from my view as a teen they are still getting up with an alarm clock and spending big chunks of time doing things they'd prefer not to do.

Even the people with the jobs that I thought were dream jobs as a kid spend a lot of time doing things that aren't fun: Pilots do not do a lot of aerobatics, Athletes spend a lot more time training than playing games, Racing Drivers spend a lot of time in the gym or doing press work. And these are the few who have made it and aren't waiting tables FFS.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #27 on: December 16, 2016, 04:20:12 PM »
Indeed: I wish very much that somebody, anybody, had bothered to hook me up with people actually making a living in the career I really wanted who could have advised me how to prepare for it. One of the things I do for my daughter is to make sure she's in regular contact with people who are in the career she wants.

Another thing I think would have benefited me is some other adult willing to talk to my parents about forcing me through a degree I did not want, which happens to be one of the ones that don't lead to career paths where most of the degree holders can feed themselves by working in their own industry.

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2016, 07:13:40 AM »
My point is that even after completing a degree, they have no idea what it qualifies them for.  Fine, if you want to study English / Art / Computer Science / whatever their "passion" is, more power to them.  But how on earth do you enter the "real world" without knowing what the heck you can do professionally with that degree?
uh, maybe because college degrees don't always make you qualified for anything.  My degree was just to get a piece of paper so that I could apply for all the jobs that required a college degree.  But entry level positions exist because they don't expect you to know anything. 
Quote
I was in college in the late 90s, and almost everyone I met had their elevator speech about what their dream job was and why their major was the best way of getting it.  And I went to a middle of the road state school.  I can't imagine putting the work in for 4 years without some plan for how it helps you later in life.  How the heck do their parents not give a crap, even if the student doesnt?
I had an elevator speech about why I would be an excellent hire and it revolved around my work ethic and my ability to learn quickly and execute well. 

My idea of what I was going to do when I graduated was that I would go and work for whoever would hire me for the most money in a job that didn't seem awful.


Right? And did your speech even mention the experience and qualification your degree bestowed upon you? I know none of my speeches did; because I had many more pertinent factoids about how I would behave as an employee based upon my work and life experience outside of the classroom; I don't remember a single interview where I mentioned "Well, writing this paper for Dr. Johnson's class was pretty hard, because he really cracked down on formatting, so that was a struggle I had to overcome in my life..."

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2016, 08:33:36 AM »
Monkey Jenga posted this elsewhere:

https://80000hours.org/career-guide/job-satisfaction/

What should you aim for in a dream job?

Professor Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, summarized the key ingredients of wellbeing as:

Positive emotion feeling happy day-to-day.
Engagement having challenging, absorbing tasks.
Relationships having supportive friends and family.
Meaning having a purpose higher than yourself.
Achievement being good at something.

This is totally the sort of thing that would have been useful as a framework to discuss careers around. Possibly with a touch of a realistic ideal day.

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2016, 09:42:44 AM »
From my point of view, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do, and I was so passionate about it I thought money would not be an issue (i.e. I would live frugally on a low salary, and love what I did so much that I wouldn't care about early retirement). I loved school, I loved my work experience, so I thought I'd want to work forever. I wanted to be a medical research scientist, and had the aptitude for it.

How wrong I was! As with a lot of thoughts I had at around 17/18, I put some time into it and came up with completely the wrong answer.

My problem was that I found out that I hated university - bit of a problem for a budding academic or scientist. The place completely destroyed my mental health, I was the victim of some unpleasant crime, and I ended up taking an extra year to complete my degree - even more money gone! I went to the UK equivalent of an Ivy League school, and it was terrible. I cried with joy when I got to the end of my finals year and got a 2:1 (an acceptable pass) so I'd never have to deal with the place ever again.

To get into the decent industry jobs (still highly competitive and relatively badly paid), I would need to go back for the PhD. Perhaps I still will.

My advice to budding students would be to consider that, no matter how much you love what you've seen so far, you might be wrong in your perceptions and in your choice of major/school/going to university at all, and plan your life in such a way that if it's truly horrible, you have a back-up plan that you can pursue without university.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 09:52:19 AM by aoedae »

MrsPete

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #31 on: December 18, 2016, 08:33:15 PM »
As a high school teacher, here's my take on it: 

1.  Society tells kids all the time:  Do what you want, and the money will follow.  Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life.  You can do anything you want.  Money won't make you happy.  And other similar lies.  Then we're surprised when they get the idea that they can make a living at their favorite hobby. 

2.  Society has decided that no one is allowed to have opinions anymore -- that's being judgemental, and that's BAD.  You know, all choices are equal, all choices are good.  Again, a lie.  But if every choice is good, then we can't really tell kids that majoring in Theater won't lead to a job -- or, we can tell them, but they won't believe it. 

3.  Finally, kids don't really believe they can get a college degree ... and not get a good job.  Even when they look into potential income possibilities, they don't really believe them.  I'm remembering a student of mine who was going to art school (against her parents' wishes).  She read that a person with her future degree could expect to earn something like 15K - 110K.  She told me that if people average that much, then a person who really works hard could do better!  When I pointed out that the 110K figure was the person who worked really hard, had some luck, AND had years of experience, she laughed it off and actually told me I didn't understand how to read the chart.  Wonder how she's doing now. 

4.  Kids are not realistic about their own abilities.  This semester I'm teaching two sections of a low-level core academic class /high school seniors.  These kids fall into two groups:  Those who are smart-but-lazy and those who are weak academically.  Yet 10% of them intend to become doctors.  Why?  Because doctors make lots of money!  Duh, don't you know?  They genuinely think this is a realistic possibility.  As I said, I'm teaching low level classes this semester; I don't always teach this group.  Still, I'd estimate that 1/4-1/3 of my students go towards degrees that are just "too much" for them.  Degrees they have no chance of ever earning.  So what happens is, they start out in Engineering (or whatever), and quickly they realize that they aren't going to finish this program ... so they have to jump into a new program -- and what's easy?  Well, that art class elective was pretty easy.  Why not major in that?

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #32 on: December 19, 2016, 01:49:15 AM »
As a high school teacher, here's my take on it: 

*knowledge bomb*


That is fascinating and encapsulates where I was let down at school (although I escaped the passion/hobby lies). I also found the same thing when I was training for a qualification to teach adults, and we had one session on children and aspiration. I disagreed with pretty much everything that was said, basically we were taught never to tell a learner that their aspirations aren't realistic. You want to be an astronaut or run a two minute mile or be a doctor as a D-student? Just believe it enough!

They take the examples of the very few who turn it around after not finishing high school or college and present them as the norm! Bill Gates didn't finish college, so no-one needs to (the fact that he got into and studied for two years at Harvard somehow overlooked)!

/rant

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #33 on: December 19, 2016, 03:47:53 AM »
As a high school teacher, here's my take on it: 

*knowledge bomb*


That is fascinating and encapsulates where I was let down at school (although I escaped the passion/hobby lies). I also found the same thing when I was training for a qualification to teach adults, and we had one session on children and aspiration. I disagreed with pretty much everything that was said, basically we were taught never to tell a learner that their aspirations aren't realistic. You want to be an astronaut or run a two minute mile or be a doctor as a D-student? Just believe it enough!

They take the examples of the very few who turn it around after not finishing high school or college and present them as the norm! Bill Gates didn't finish college, so no-one needs to (the fact that he got into and studied for two years at Harvard somehow overlooked)!

/rant

Richard Branson is the other one often quoted. A dyslexic drop out who went on to be a cool billionaire.

The fact that he is unique is completely lost on most people. If everyone could do it then he wouldn't be unique now would he!

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #34 on: December 19, 2016, 06:33:37 AM »
Yep, Branson is incredibly smart and struggled in school because of undiagnosed dyslexia.

Great reason to diagnose dyslexia, shit reason to drop out of school.

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #35 on: December 19, 2016, 06:54:54 AM »

Heck I'm 46 and I still don't know what a lot of professionals do.  I find it's a good icebreaker though at parties.  "What do you do?"  "What is your day like?"  "How did you get into that line of work?"

I mean, I'm fine if my boys become engineers or computer scientists, but it would be nice to know about other things.

+1000.  I often find myself thinking "people do that and get paid?  If only I had known".  I know it's never too late, but I'm close enough to my end goal now that I'll just do all the cool things on my own time.  Still, I wish I had known about the existence of these other possibilities.

MrsPete

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #36 on: December 19, 2016, 07:12:03 AM »
Richard Branson is the other one often quoted. A dyslexic drop out who went on to be a cool billionaire.

The fact that he is unique is completely lost on most people. If everyone could do it then he wouldn't be unique now would he!
Yes, you're right that our kids frequently throw out examples of people who've "made it" in spite of their lack of education; but, as you say, they fail to realize that these individuals were unique and were in highly unique situations.  With all the effort in the world, most of us can't follow their example. 

Variations on that theme:

- Two well-known sports figures live in our area -- both finished poorly in school, yet they went on to do very well -- one in NASCAR, one in basketball.  Both are no longer "players" but area BIG, BIG owners.  The biggest road through town is named after one of them.  Kids love to point to them and say, "See, they made it.  So can I." 

- Similarly, kids'll point out their grandfathers, who only finished the fifth grade, yet now own _____.  Or they'll point out that Abraham Lincoln didn't attend university.  They can't see that Granddaddy and Lincoln lived in a different era with different rules. 

- Know what you call the doctor who finishes at the bottom of his class?  Doctor.  They completely fail to realize that this doctor made it through multiple-multiple-multiple stages of education before finishing last in his doctoral class. Yet somehow they think it's the same as finishing last in high school. 


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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2016, 11:09:44 AM »
As a high school teacher, here's my take on it: 

... best post of the thread...

Mrs Pete, serious question, any tips on how to broach this subject with kids? 

For me it seems like a lot of jobs are on a spectrum. In Engineering  I can make more $$ taking projects through to construction, so that's what I'm doing. R&D stuff is way more fun but doesn't pay as well (at least for my little niche of the world).  I'm not saying don't follow a passion, but at least be cognizant how to monetize it.  But explaining this to the little Trolls? My explanations so far have been an Epic Failure.  They love the passion idea and hate Mom's plan for them to be accountants.


MgoSam

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #38 on: December 19, 2016, 11:26:22 AM »
I personally hate the example of Richard Branson, or people mention how Bill Gates dropped out. Yes, let's go with the .0001% as as the example. Seriously, there are millions of drop outs that might not grace the covers of the WSJ but are very comfortable. I like the examples from "The Millionaire Next Door."

HenryDavid

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #39 on: December 19, 2016, 11:29:31 AM »
I taught university for 25+ years, and know a wide range of people with all kinds of jobs.
The ones who've never been out of work for a single day are NOT distinguished by their choice of major.
Instead they are the ones who will take any work available to start with (but always look for better opportunities while doing so); who show up early and "think like an owner": who treat everyone with equal respect; who are cheerful and alert and curious; who don't think anyone owes them anything; who see a problem and can't help coming up with multiple possible solutions right away . . . etc.
When I was a kid, school guidance counsellors said "it's all about attitude" and I thought they were idiots.
But they were correct. The problem with the "what can I do with my major" question is the hint of an attitude that a specific major sort of "entitles" a person to something. I studied this, therefore I get this job. It doesn't work that simply. You have to create your whole life for yourself, and your education is only one part of that.
I see friends and kids of friends who have the qualities listed above, who have "unemployable" majors, get dead-end jobs, then "route around them" and turn them into opportunities, or who take volunteer work to get out of them, and eventually they thrive. The point here is that cultivating attitudes and approaches is way more fundamental than your choice of major.

KMMK

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #40 on: December 19, 2016, 12:33:07 PM »
Parents don't know any more about their children's major of than the kid does.

Cooperative Studies - that is how you go to college. Work a semester, school for a semester. Save your money and pay for your tuition.  Resume isn't empty on graduation day. Done right this can lead to a first post-degree job.

We did something in high school called "Job Shadowing". It was a day with someone in the profession that you thought you wanted to pursue. There were a few shortcomings though. I recall the quality of the experience varying between different hosts. And I recall it was only one day. Would be better if it was several half-days over the course of your school year with different hosts to compare and contrast.

Is "Job Shadowing" not common? We have it in the UK and it is typically a week (sometimes a week at 15/16 and a week at 17/18). It isn't perfect and often the schools with more rich parents can offer much better placements than the schools with fewer rich parents. I did it and it taught me a lot about what I did and didn't want.

A big issue is that many teachers have either always known that they wanted to teach, or have got a degree and then ended up teaching because they didn't know what to do with it. These are not the ideal experiences for helping young adults pick out their college degrees.

Most young adults have only a very vague idea of what specific professionals actually do. Unless they have a parent in the same line of work that they want, all kids really get to see are teachers, nurses, and to a limited extent doctors.

This was my problem. I didn't know what jobs existed, my teachers weren't hugely helpful (apart from repeatedly saying that because I was smart I should study Medicine and be a doctor). In my school there were a vast number of people who wanted to be in either the emergency services or to be hairdressers. I'm sure it was just because those were the jobs we'd interacted with.

I was all about the maths and not one person suggested accountancy or actuarial work. I genuinely thought that if I studied maths or physics the only thing I could do was teach maths or physics. In my defence, every person I'd met up to that point who had studied maths or physics was in fact a teacher. Having the internet would have probably helped.

Similar here. I was all about maths and computers. But I had no idea that that could translate into a job. (Can't remember when I learned what accounting was, but it was too late.) Also all I knew about student loans were that they were BAD, and I had almost no money. And I hated high school so signing up for 4 years of university was abhorrent to me. I also hated hands-on stuff, so anything that involved "labs" I didn't want to do.

I knew a little bit about engineering, but I'm a lady and was very shy with social anxiety issues, so going into a "male" field was pretty intimidating, even though I easily held my own in the advanced math and physics classes at high school.

I also didn't know anything about how it's better to not make a hobby into a job; you just lose a good hobby.

I ended up picking something hobby-related and generally non-intimidating. It was a bad fit, but it all worked out eventually.

I wish I had known more about what happened at actual careers, how student loans worked, and that there were jobs that involved numbers and computers. Almost everyone I talk to feels the same way - guidance from parents and schools was next to nothing.


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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #41 on: December 19, 2016, 05:48:53 PM »
I didn't particularly know what my degree was useful for (International Relations) to a large extent.  But spending a year abroad in a 3rd world country + getting myself a work study job at the career center my senior year gave me good universal skills that like those in the military transferred over to a real life job in a position that didn't need any particular degree but used those soft skills.

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I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #42 on: December 19, 2016, 06:04:00 PM »
With my stepdaughters, goddaughters, niece and nephews, I looked for an opening and then barged in with my opinion. The younger of my two goddaughters wanted to apply to Arts and Sciences at Cornell. She was not going to get in - her verbal scores were not high enough. I urged her to apply to Engineering instead. She did, got in, loved it, and is now in a PhD program. I talked her sister into the MBA program. Her grandfather was willing to pay for it and she wanted a career change. It was a no brainer. She graduates in May and has a superb job lined up. Interestingly, it was easier for all of them to talk to me than their parents, because I had no vested interest.

ender

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #43 on: December 19, 2016, 06:12:53 PM »
Similar here. I was all about maths and computers. But I had no idea that that could translate into a job. (Can't remember when I learned what accounting was, but it was too late.) Also all I knew about student loans were that they were BAD, and I had almost no money. And I hated high school so signing up for 4 years of university was abhorrent to me. I also hated hands-on stuff, so anything that involved "labs" I didn't want to do.

I knew a little bit about engineering, but I'm a lady and was very shy with social anxiety issues, so going into a "male" field was pretty intimidating, even though I easily held my own in the advanced math and physics classes at high school.

I also didn't know anything about how it's better to not make a hobby into a job; you just lose a good hobby.

I ended up picking something hobby-related and generally non-intimidating. It was a bad fit, but it all worked out eventually.

I wish I had known more about what happened at actual careers, how student loans worked, and that there were jobs that involved numbers and computers. Almost everyone I talk to feels the same way - guidance from parents and schools was next to nothing.

The important thing is to identify two things:

  • What types of things do you do for fun and what are the basic components behind this?
  • What careers consist of those activities?

Your goal finding a career should be identifying the activities you enjoy or find fulfilling and identifying which jobs consist of those on a small scale. Most careers are overly glamorized compared to the actual day to day activities. But the day to day activities are what makes/breaks a job or career.


KMMK

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #44 on: December 19, 2016, 06:52:16 PM »
Similar here. I was all about maths and computers. But I had no idea that that could translate into a job. (Can't remember when I learned what accounting was, but it was too late.) Also all I knew about student loans were that they were BAD, and I had almost no money. And I hated high school so signing up for 4 years of university was abhorrent to me. I also hated hands-on stuff, so anything that involved "labs" I didn't want to do.

I knew a little bit about engineering, but I'm a lady and was very shy with social anxiety issues, so going into a "male" field was pretty intimidating, even though I easily held my own in the advanced math and physics classes at high school.

I also didn't know anything about how it's better to not make a hobby into a job; you just lose a good hobby.

I ended up picking something hobby-related and generally non-intimidating. It was a bad fit, but it all worked out eventually.

I wish I had known more about what happened at actual careers, how student loans worked, and that there were jobs that involved numbers and computers. Almost everyone I talk to feels the same way - guidance from parents and schools was next to nothing.

The important thing is to identify two things:

  • What types of things do you do for fun and what are the basic components behind this?
  • What careers consist of those activities?

Your goal finding a career should be identifying the activities you enjoy or find fulfilling and identifying which jobs consist of those on a small scale. Most careers are overly glamorized compared to the actual day to day activities. But the day to day activities are what makes/breaks a job or career.

Yes, that would have been ideal.

letired

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #45 on: December 19, 2016, 07:08:56 PM »
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/15/why-college-grads-cant-find-jobs-commentary.html

Who the heck picks a major without knowing what job they want to get using it and other jobs it qualifies them for?  WTF.  Why did you go to college anyway?

Many, if not most, college kids.

Literally me. I got the full-on follow-your-passion whatever-makes-you-happy-dear shtick. I'm lucky in that my two passions were plants and reading and that I hated grammar and couldn't spell (no, I had no idea what English majors did), so I picked plants and majored in Biology. My parents weren't totally inept when it came to career help though. They helped me get a lab job via a family friend while in college, so I at least had job experience coming out. And then after a few years of work I even went to grad school because I thought I loved research and would be happily following my passion while making very little money. Turns out I was wrong on both counts (academia blows and I hate being poor), but people think you're fancy and smart if you have an advanced degree, so it's working out.

former player

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #46 on: December 19, 2016, 07:22:38 PM »
I personally hate the example of Richard Branson, or people mention how Bill Gates dropped out. Yes, let's go with the .0001% as as the example. Seriously, there are millions of drop outs that might not grace the covers of the WSJ but are very comfortable. I like the examples from "The Millionaire Next Door."
Agree wholeheartedly with this.  Richard Branson came from a very privileged background - I was told an uncle of his was board member/chairman of Barclays Bank - and was bankrolled by his family into his first businesses (there were failures before the success with Virgin Records).  So credit to the guy, but he started from a completely different place than most of us.

MrsPete

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #47 on: December 20, 2016, 06:08:07 PM »
Mrs Pete, serious question, any tips on how to broach this subject with kids? 
We're talking about your own kiddos, right?  Not students? 

I can tell you that I worked at teaching my own kids about money from about the time they started school.  We started with very concrete items like groceries, and then we worked up to cost of insurance, housing, etc.  We talked about their abilities /strong suits and how they could potentially translate into careers -- and we talked about how much various occupations earn.  I tried to instill in them the idea that they could potentially enter any number of jobs -- that no one magical, all-fulfilling job exists for them.  And I tried to instill in them the idea that no matter what they do, it's going to be work, not play.

When they were in high school I helped them seek out experiences in career-related spots.  Things at school, candy striping at the hospital, volunteering here and there.  They seemed to learn a great deal from those experiences.  Since you're talking about math-related items, I'd suggest that you have them investigate whether your high school offers something like Math Olympics or a Robotics Club.  Or an Explorer Scouts group that focuses on technology.  Or summer camps that focus on such things. 

As for accounting specifically, I have never once taught a high school senior who graduated saying, "I'm going to college to study accounting!"  But I've had a number of them come back to visit me saying, "I started out in Business, and it wasn't until I took my first accounting course that I realized that's where I belong."  It's one of those jobs that high schoolers see as dull-as-dirt, but college students realize holds potential. 

cheapass

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #48 on: December 21, 2016, 01:24:28 PM »
My parents had a frank conversation with me when I was choosing a major in college. They pretty much said, "You decide what kind of standard of living you want to have and pick a major accordingly. Research starting salaries, employment rates, etc." I think there's a lot of people that go into it with no idea what their earnings or job placement rate or ability to service student loan debt will be with a particular major, then get out of school like WHAT THE HELL, why am I working as a barista??!?

I could have picked a much easier major, in a "fun" field, but chose engineering instead. It's worked out well so far. I don't necessarily enjoy it (I wouldn't continue coming to work if I won the lottery tomorrow) but it pays well so it enables me to "win the lottery" (FIRE) faster via saving and investing.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2016, 01:31:30 PM by cheapass »

Sibley

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #49 on: December 21, 2016, 02:08:45 PM »
...

As for accounting specifically, I have never once taught a high school senior who graduated saying, "I'm going to college to study accounting!"  But I've had a number of them come back to visit me saying, "I started out in Business, and it wasn't until I took my first accounting course that I realized that's where I belong."  It's one of those jobs that high schoolers see as dull-as-dirt, but college students realize holds potential.

Well, I was sorta close to that. My mom made me take an accounting elective in high school, and I liked it. So going into college, it was something I knew I was interested in.  Of course, you should have heard the screaming battles over signing up to take that elective in the first place...