Author Topic: I don't know what to do with my major!  (Read 13415 times)

Sibley

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #50 on: December 21, 2016, 02:12:18 PM »
My mom was very clear - I had to major in something that I could get a job in and support myself. Double majors and minors were allowed, but there HAD to be a major that would get me into a career. I went accounting.

trollwithamustache

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #51 on: December 21, 2016, 04:06:49 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.

Thanks!

One is mine, one is a step kid but we've been a meshed family for a while. We've just hit high school so while there is plenty of time, they probably won't ever listen to us again. :)

They seem to be understanding controlling spending side of money. They've helped plan meals, grocery store trips and some pieces of vacations around budgets and seen some trade offs in action.

Since the schools don't teach anything on budgeting, this idea that we plan how we spend our money best doesn't go against anything they are being taught at school.

The work is work and not play hasn't been as easy to explain. We are disagreeing with the "find your passion and you'll never have to work a day in your life" dogma.

I really like the candy striping type idea, showing is better than telling and that way they would see a real workplace with professional and hourly type jobs in action.



nobody123

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #52 on: December 22, 2016, 10:35:55 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.

As you point out, a degree in certain subject areas is a pre-req for many jobs just to get past the resume screen.  I wasn't implying that a degree makes you actually good at a job.  I learned more in my summer internship than I did in 4 years of college, but I wouldn't have had that opportunity unless I was working on my degree.  The most valuable thing I ever learned in the classroom was from an accouting instructor in a rant before class.  He owned several small businesses and teaching a class or two a semester was a side-hustle.  He flat out told us: "'Follow your dreams' is a bullshit lie.  You don't get a job to make  you happy, all jobs suck eventually.  You get a job to get money to buy things to have fun with.  Do whatever job pays you the most, because nobody likes being poor.  It's hard to be happy if you're worried about paying the mortgage."

The elevator speech I was referring to is what you'd tell other students, not a potential employer.  Other than a few that were there for their Mrs. degree, my wife's first roommate openly admitted that was the only reason she was there, everyone was majoring in their field of study with a plan to at least try to get a job doing something that required that specific degree / major.  But at least my wife's roommate had a plan!

Like you, I also picked my major and target entry level job based on what paid the most in an area of study I could tolerate.  That seems completely logical to me, and I can't believe that more students don't at least take the time to do that level of research.  Again, I don't care what degree someone earns, they should at least have a plan as to what they are going to use it for.  I guess I'm just perplexed as to why someone would devote 4+ years of their life and tens of thousands of dollars to attain a degree that they have no plan on how to leverage.

Classical_Liberal

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #53 on: December 22, 2016, 12:20:51 PM »
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.

This is the key.  No matter how engaged a person is in their "passion", the daily activities related to that career are likely very different than what one would choose to do if simply pursuing that passion independently. Now, there are certainly variations within fields, but most higher paying careers have become so specialized it's difficult to change paths once you've chosen a specialty.  Employers want an employee to be productive, not necessarily teach him/her a bunch of new things. Unless, of course, a person is willing to sacrifice compensation or something else to make the switch. 

After having several, very different careers and having to re-educate a couple of times, I've come to the conclusion that the best career is something I like, but NOT my passion.  Having a job that relates to whatever I'm passionate about simply leads to frustration, burnout, and loss of that passion.  IOW, choose something in which the day to day drudgery is tolerable or maybe even a bit enjoyable, but save passions for your free time.  If they eventually lead to income, great, it's on your terms.  If not, great, find this forum and learn how to not be dependant on your day job.

Apples

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #54 on: December 22, 2016, 12:25:11 PM »
My SIL majored in Women's Studies.  Minored in something equally unhelpful in the job market.  By her Junior year she had done several entry-level jobs in the fields that would lead to, which didn't pay much.  She realized she would need a Masters to get traction at the potential employers she was looking at, and she didn't have the money to pursue that avenue.  She tried for 1-2 years working low wage jobs funded by grants at Universities and non-profits.  All got cut at one point or another.  It was demoralizing.  She now works in alcohol sales and promotional events, and seems to be fairly good at her job.  Her brother, my DH did Kinesiology as his major with the full intention of following that up with becoming a sports trainer or especially physical therapist.  He learned in his Junior year about exactly how the day-to-day of most jobs on that path went, didn't like it, and switched majors to something equally as practical but taking 3 more years (since a lot of the classes didn't transfer).  Worked in that path for 3 years, would have stayed there forever if he hadn't had a particular boss, and now does yet another completely unrelated job.  So even the guy who was on the practical path should have shadowed someone much earlier in his education.

I wanted to join the family business.  I had waaaay more shadowing and full time summer work than I ever needed to know how this job goes.  We have a summer crew of high school students where the motto is that this job is "motivation for higher education".  Nothing like digging rocks out of a ditch for an irrigation line when it's 95 and humid to make studying for a test or writing a paper seem not that bad.  Plus all the hours doing menial labor gives you time to really think about your future life path.  They also contrast their normal hours and pay with someone who works a cash register or as a waiter/waitress (more hours, more $/hr usually).  I think of the crews I've been with, everyone has gotten a B.S. in something very practical and two have gone on for graduate degrees (out of 9).  We always remind them that if things don't work out they're always welcome to come back and pick peaches :p

Cwadda

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #55 on: December 22, 2016, 01:40:50 PM »
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.

Great post, I agree.

LiveLean

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #56 on: December 23, 2016, 05:49:43 PM »
When I was in high school, I worked in a video store that was a big deal in the mid-late 1980s -- sort of Blockbuster before Blockbuster. Two of my managers were graduates of the University of Virginia. Both majored in art history.

Not that I had any interest in art history, but listening to these guys talk about all of the great times they had partying and being in a fraternity was a great lesson. Even at 16-17, I could tell how clueless these guys were and how they saw no correlation between spending their college years partying, majoring in freakin' art history, and managing a video store in their late twenties.

I went to UVA with a plan and it did not include majoring in art history. And I haven't worked retail since 1987.

arebelspy

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #57 on: December 23, 2016, 05:57:20 PM »
Who the heck picks a major without knowing what job they want to get using it and other jobs it qualifies them for?  WTF.

Yo.

I picked a major I'd enjoy, and learn from, and stretch my brain.  (Actually switched to it--was Econ major, was sitting in bullshit business classes snoozing through and getting As, but enjoyed my basic philosophy class so much more, I became a philosophy major.)

The jobs one might get were irrelevant.  I k ew a liberal arts major would make less money. I literally did not care. Not everything is about money.

If I could do it over, I'd do it again. In fact, I'd encourage myself to take that attitude even earlier.  Money is so easy to make, I would base literally zero life decisions around it.


Quote
Why did you go to college anyway?

To learn, grow, expand myself as a person.

Not simply to make lots of money. If I wanted to do that, there's better paths than college.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2016, 06:00:21 PM by arebelspy »
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nobody123

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #58 on: December 31, 2016, 11:11:41 AM »
Who the heck picks a major without knowing what job they want to get using it and other jobs it qualifies them for?  WTF.

Yo.

I picked a major I'd enjoy, and learn from, and stretch my brain.  (Actually switched to it--was Econ major, was sitting in bullshit business classes snoozing through and getting As, but enjoyed my basic philosophy class so much more, I became a philosophy major.)

The jobs one might get were irrelevant.  I k ew a liberal arts major would make less money. I literally did not care. Not everything is about money.

If I could do it over, I'd do it again. In fact, I'd encourage myself to take that attitude even earlier.  Money is so easy to make, I would base literally zero life decisions around it.


Quote
Why did you go to college anyway?

To learn, grow, expand myself as a person.

Not simply to make lots of money. If I wanted to do that, there's better paths than college.

But you had a plan.  IIRC, you had a career that fit your life goal to RE, great.  You didn't graduate, look around, and wonder "Hmm, what can I do with this piece of paper now that I'm sitting in mom & dad's basement with $25K in student debt?"  My astonishment is that the people in the article had no idea what kind of jobs their degree qualified them to apply for.

arebelspy

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #59 on: December 31, 2016, 02:21:51 PM »
Who the heck picks a major without knowing what job they want to get using it and other jobs it qualifies them for?  WTF.

Yo.

I picked a major I'd enjoy, and learn from, and stretch my brain.  (Actually switched to it--was Econ major, was sitting in bullshit business classes snoozing through and getting As, but enjoyed my basic philosophy class so much more, I became a philosophy major.)

The jobs one might get were irrelevant.  I k ew a liberal arts major would make less money. I literally did not care. Not everything is about money.

If I could do it over, I'd do it again. In fact, I'd encourage myself to take that attitude even earlier.  Money is so easy to make, I would base literally zero life decisions around it.


Quote
Why did you go to college anyway?

To learn, grow, expand myself as a person.

Not simply to make lots of money. If I wanted to do that, there's better paths than college.

But you had a plan.  IIRC, you had a career that fit your life goal to RE, great.  You didn't graduate, look around, and wonder "Hmm, what can I do with this piece of paper now that I'm sitting in mom & dad's basement with $25K in student debt?"  My astonishment is that the people in the article had no idea what kind of jobs their degree qualified them to apply for.

Nope, none of that is true.  No plan, no career that fit a goal of REing.

My senior year I heard of Teach for America, went to a presentation, and thought that would be a good thing to do (it's an Americorps program), to help kids in underprivileged situations close the achievement gap.  I had no plan to teach and never expected to teach.  Even when joining, I was expecting to do my two year commitment, then move on to something else.

Teaching, as a profession, is a pretty terrible one for ER.  You get plenty of time off, yes (if you take it--we worked almost every summer), but the pay is terrible (I started at ~32k out of high school, and that rose--after 8 years' experience and adding a Master's Degree--to only 44k).

I ended up loving teaching so much though, I stayed with it for 8 years until we ER'd.

As I said:
Quote
I picked a major I'd enjoy, and learn from, and stretch my brain.

Consideration of career had zero to do with it, and, in fact, was the opposite (switched from a major where the career options were much more clear cut).

Just want to provide an example that not every person that picks a major without caring about monetary prospects is an idiot (or maybe you think I am now, and that's fine, too). 

There are other considerations besides making money in life, and I'm glad I chose based on those.  I enjoyed the hell out of my college classes, and I'd rather have 3-4 years of really thinking, learning, growing than 3-4 years of grinding to a career that pays well  (a false dichotomy, I know, as they aren't mutually exclusive, but if your sole criteria is money, that may turn out to be the case).  If my sole consideration was money, skipping college would have been the smart solution.

I went to college for non-monetary reasons, and did the same when deciding on my major, and am glad I did, and just wanted to provide an example of that, contrasting all the clueless people they show in news articles where they grab quotes to make them sound like idiots.  :)
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nobody123

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #60 on: January 03, 2017, 10:43:15 AM »

<snip/>

My senior year I heard of Teach for America, went to a presentation, and thought that would be a good thing to do (it's an Americorps program), to help kids in underprivileged situations close the achievement gap.  I had no plan to teach and never expected to teach.  Even when joining, I was expecting to do my two year commitment, then move on to something else.

Teaching, as a profession, is a pretty terrible one for ER.  You get plenty of time off, yes (if you take it--we worked almost every summer), but the pay is terrible (I started at ~32k out of high school, and that rose--after 8 years' experience and adding a Master's Degree--to only 44k).

I ended up loving teaching so much though, I stayed with it for 8 years until we ER'd.

As I said:
Quote
I picked a major I'd enjoy, and learn from, and stretch my brain.

Consideration of career had zero to do with it, and, in fact, was the opposite (switched from a major where the career options were much more clear cut).

Just want to provide an example that not every person that picks a major without caring about monetary prospects is an idiot (or maybe you think I am now, and that's fine, too). 

There are other considerations besides making money in life, and I'm glad I chose based on those.  I enjoyed the hell out of my college classes, and I'd rather have 3-4 years of really thinking, learning, growing than 3-4 years of grinding to a career that pays well  (a false dichotomy, I know, as they aren't mutually exclusive, but if your sole criteria is money, that may turn out to be the case).  If my sole consideration was money, skipping college would have been the smart solution.

I went to college for non-monetary reasons, and did the same when deciding on my major, and am glad I did, and just wanted to provide an example of that, contrasting all the clueless people they show in news articles where they grab quotes to make them sound like idiots.  :)

Example noted.  I definitely don't consider you an idiot, you're living the dream.  But I will point out you did acknowledge that you had a two-year plan upon graduation. ;)  While you were busy becoming a better person, you at least had the little voice in your head telling you that the real world was coming soon and you needed to figure out how to support yourself.

That being said, I know for a fact that my dad would have (quite literally) kicked my ass if I showed up at my parents house after graduation without a job, so not having some sort of plan was never an option for me to begin with.  Perhaps that is why I have such trouble empathizing with those who attend college as a growing experience rather than a means to an end.  I was in college in the late 90s, and the reality of 'bachelors degree == automatic good job' was still in place as well, so I'm sure that biases me too.

I don't think that anyone should pick a job / career / life direction based only on money as well.  Heck, I didn't.  IIRC, a certain grocery chain that rhymes with Aldi's recruited heavily at my school.  Entry level manager got like $75K to start, but you had to work 70+ hour weeks for two or so years before you could become a district manager or whatnot and you could scale back your hours.  They were very upfront about the burn-out rate.  I chose to go the IT path and started at just above half of that, and I am pleased with the way my career has turned out. 

arebelspy

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #61 on: January 03, 2017, 04:30:59 PM »
Definitely!

Some of those kids would be lucky to have a dad like yours (at least in that tiny respect of making sure you knew you needed to support yourself; obviously I know nothing about your dad).  :)
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Mezzie

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #62 on: January 04, 2017, 02:40:30 AM »
This thread makes me very proud of the career exploration projects I've had my students do. Many of my students last year, for example, realized they had been setting themselves up for a major and career they would have hated and/or would not have paid as they imagined, and they continued doing further career research after the project was over.

I'm one of the people for whom "follow your passion" advice worked out, but I recognize how lucky I am. I know plenty of people who have a career *and* a passion (or a few) instead of having it all rolked into one like I do. I also recognize that I am extremely lucky that having my passion as my career hasn't in any way dulled my passion; in fact, it has grown.

We have mentorships and career advice at my school as well, most of it pretty good. The one thing I'm working on now is fighting against the pervasive advice that any college loan is a good college loan. Our school is very good at teaching students how to finance college by any means necessary, but says nothing about the reality of paying off loans or the disconnect between the size of some loans and the reasonable starting salary of some majors. I've invited a financial advisor to speak to my students on this issue (hopefully this month, possibly in February).

nobody123

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #63 on: January 04, 2017, 08:40:10 AM »
This thread makes me very proud of the career exploration projects I've had my students do. Many of my students last year, for example, realized they had been setting themselves up for a major and career they would have hated and/or would not have paid as they imagined, and they continued doing further career research after the project was over.

I have had roughly 100 interns work for me over the last decade or so.  These folks are at least college sophomores two years into their academic program, and at least one a year decides that an IT position is not for them and they change majors.  I usually tell them how lucky they are to have figured that out before they graduated and didn't have the chance to pivot to something they might enjoy more.  Market rate for entry level pay in my LCOL area for a programmer is somewhere between $60K - $70K, so these kids are giving up a pretty solid starting salary for their mental health.

Kudos for having your students think critically about college and their potential career choice.  Hopefully you also point out that a lot of careers require some 'seasoning' doing the not fun grunt work for a year or two before you can progress into the cooler roles.  I would caution your students to look at what an entry level and subsequent level job in that industry looks like.  It would be a shame to dismiss a career in something you are passionate about because of a narrow focus on the tasks they'll do in the first job out of college.  I know I wouldn't have throught to think like that when I was 17 and everything was black or white.

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #64 on: January 05, 2017, 01:41:23 AM »
This thread makes me very proud of the career exploration projects I've had my students do. Many of my students last year, for example, realized they had been setting themselves up for a major and career they would have hated and/or would not have paid as they imagined, and they continued doing further career research after the project was over.
I have had roughly 100 interns work for me over the last decade or so.  These folks are at least college sophomores two years into their academic program, and at least one a year decides that an IT position is not for them and they change majors.  I usually tell them how lucky they are to have figured that out before they graduated and didn't have the chance to pivot to something they might enjoy more.  Market rate for entry level pay in my LCOL area for a programmer is somewhere between $60K - $70K, so these kids are giving up a pretty solid starting salary for their mental health.

Kudos for having your students think critically about college and their potential career choice.  Hopefully you also point out that a lot of careers require some 'seasoning' doing the not fun grunt work for a year or two before you can progress into the cooler roles.  I would caution your students to look at what an entry level and subsequent level job in that industry looks like. It would be a shame to dismiss a career in something you are passionate about because of a narrow focus on the tasks they'll do in the first job out of college.  I know I wouldn't have throught to think like that when I was 17 and everything was black or white.

We have a tendency for our work experience kids to do the opposite. We take them on a couple of tours, do presentations to them and get them to do the most interesting tasks. They see the most interesting couple of hours in most people's week or month and leave thinking that our work is a non-stop lunch and conversation train.

I'm so pleased for each of the interns that decides that IT isn't for them.

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #65 on: January 05, 2017, 07:08:58 AM »
I have had roughly 100 interns work for me over the last decade or so.  These folks are at least college sophomores two years into their academic program, and at least one a year decides that an IT position is not for them and they change majors.  I usually tell them how lucky they are to have figured that out before they graduated and didn't have the chance to pivot to something they might enjoy more.  Market rate for entry level pay in my LCOL area for a programmer is somewhere between $60K - $70K, so these kids are giving up a pretty solid starting salary for their mental health.

Kudos for having your students think critically about college and their potential career choice.  Hopefully you also point out that a lot of careers require some 'seasoning' doing the not fun grunt work for a year or two before you can progress into the cooler roles.  I would caution your students to look at what an entry level and subsequent level job in that industry looks like.  It would be a shame to dismiss a career in something you are passionate about because of a narrow focus on the tasks they'll do in the first job out of college.  I know I wouldn't have throught to think like that when I was 17 and everything was black or white.

Even between software engineering jobs, there is tremendous range of what you might be doing day-to-day, to say nothing of the broader IT world.  I'd personally counsel those kids to question why specifically they don't like working for you and to ask questions about whether that's going to be the case at every job out there.

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #66 on: January 05, 2017, 10:37:11 AM »
This thread makes me very proud of the career exploration projects I've had my students do. Many of my students last year, for example, realized they had been setting themselves up for a major and career they would have hated and/or would not have paid as they imagined, and they continued doing further career research after the project was over.
I have had roughly 100 interns work for me over the last decade or so.  These folks are at least college sophomores two years into their academic program, and at least one a year decides that an IT position is not for them and they change majors.  I usually tell them how lucky they are to have figured that out before they graduated and didn't have the chance to pivot to something they might enjoy more.  Market rate for entry level pay in my LCOL area for a programmer is somewhere between $60K - $70K, so these kids are giving up a pretty solid starting salary for their mental health.

Kudos for having your students think critically about college and their potential career choice.  Hopefully you also point out that a lot of careers require some 'seasoning' doing the not fun grunt work for a year or two before you can progress into the cooler roles.  I would caution your students to look at what an entry level and subsequent level job in that industry looks like. It would be a shame to dismiss a career in something you are passionate about because of a narrow focus on the tasks they'll do in the first job out of college.  I know I wouldn't have throught to think like that when I was 17 and everything was black or white.

We have a tendency for our work experience kids to do the opposite. We take them on a couple of tours, do presentations to them and get them to do the most interesting tasks. They see the most interesting couple of hours in most people's week or month and leave thinking that our work is a non-stop lunch and conversation train.

I'm so pleased for each of the interns that decides that IT isn't for them.

Maybe there's been a shift away from using interns as a form of cheap, temporary labor. I recall one place I worked where all the office inventory, line by line auditing, replacement of restroom tiles, and other grunt work was deliberately scheduled during intern season just so there'd be warm bodies available to do it.

nobody123

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #67 on: January 05, 2017, 11:47:48 AM »
Even between software engineering jobs, there is tremendous range of what you might be doing day-to-day, to say nothing of the broader IT world.  I'd personally counsel those kids to question why specifically they don't like working for you and to ask questions about whether that's going to be the case at every job out there.

Yes, there are tons of variations on what an entry level IT employee does depending on their actual job description, but I guarantee every position necessarily involves some level of unappealing gruntwork.  My definition of gruntwork is stuff that you just have to do but don't get to apply your creativity or opinions to.  For example, instead of designing a new program, an entry level coder will be given a programming spec by a senior developer and be expected to write the code to implement the documented logic in a specified framework / language according to the company coding standards.  An entry level person working at a helpdesk might be required to walk around make sure people don't have their passwords on post-it notes on their monitor.  Basically mindless "because I told you so" stuff.

We discuss how the internship is progressing on a weekly basis with the students and make any reasonable accommodations / adjustments to their assignments, as we would with any employee expressing a concern.  We're not a charity, we use the internship program as a feeder for our full-time staff, so it's in our best interest as well as the students to figure out A. are they capable of doing this type of work, B. what type of ceiling do they have, C. do they fit in with our culture, and ultimately D. is this someone we want to hire upon graduation.  We also perfectly fine with a student saying that they wouldn't want to work for us upon graduation because of whatever reasons, and they can stay on for multiple semesters as long as they are performing to expectations.  My company isn't as "sexy" as Google / Apple / Facebook, so if someone wants to try to get a job there after they graduate, more power to them.

Because of this ongoing dialogue, it is very rare to be blindsided by someone saying that this just isn't for them.  Usually we hear that they didn't really enjoy the academic work either but they were pressured into computer science because they were told by parent / peer / guidance counselor that it was a good career, but now that they see what it entails they are sure they don't want to do it for a job.  Also, I have had to have the difficult discussions with low performers to suggest that this facet of IT work (software engineering) may not be for them. 


joleran

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #68 on: January 05, 2017, 01:46:49 PM »
I see where you're coming from, but where I work our interns actually get pretty free reign to design new systems (typically talk about a few options they could choose from too).  We want to see what they can bring when they have everything they could need or want.  Interns that don't do well with that, yeah they tend to get gruntwork, but those interns rarely get offers.  I don't see how you can hire an intern for a creative position like a software engineer when you only look at how they handle gruntwork.

I run a couple of development teams as a technical lead, and there is little I hate more than having to hold someone's hand and tell them every step they need to do.  Everyone does gruntwork at all levels, but everyone gets creative work as well.  Dumping it all on the most-junior of people doesn't seem like a great way to instill loyalty or inspire greatness.

Edit: and I'm not saying that you give them nothing but gruntwork, it just seems our companies are approaching the problem differently where we assume they are amazing and you assume they're average entry-level.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 02:33:08 PM by joleran »

ChpBstrd

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #69 on: January 05, 2017, 08:00:47 PM »
A few random observations:

1) A better question is.. why do people pay $200k for a college degree when they could pay $40k? In my area, there are state schools next to private schools and the tuition difference is literally 3x. I definitely shopped based on price and graduated debt-free. The folks who are shocked to have student loans confuse me. Was the "prestige" or the football team worth it?

2) I was also told "follow your passion" and majored in psychology. I actually had a serious career path. I was determined I wanted to earn my PhD and become an academic social psychologist. I was a great student, and went from state college to a nationally recognized PhD program. Then, suddenly, my curiosity on the subject just ended. Poof. I had literally learned so much I was no longer driven to know any more. I dropped out and for a couple years the best I could do was $9/hour! I eventually earned my MBA and went into project management. Who could have predicted this turn of events!?

3) Lack of information is a big problem for 18 year olds. Why not treat the course catalog like a restaurant menu? All majors claim to lead to some career outcome, even when they don't. One would think the internet could have solved this problem. Even in the 90's, I had the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/

4) Two generations of people feeling ripped off by the assumptions they were handed about college is going to have major social/cultural impacts. One, they will forbid their own kids from even minoring in a liberal arts subject, destroying these academic institutions. Two, they will distrust education in general, with some embracing intuition or even celebrating ignorance. Three, they will be susceptible to proposals to radically change various systems they learned nothing about (imagine a literature major deciding on water fluoridation). Fourth, they will look at the educational system as something that ripped them off. Trump is just the beginning.

5) Colleges and universities have no incentives to ensure their customers are satisfied beyond graduation. Their funding is not a percentage of their students' future earnings or anything like that. Hence, there is zero investment in ensuring that only enough people major in English to replenish teaching or writing jobs, for example. If production could be linked to demand signals, this problem would be solved, but that would involve considerable limitations on personal freedom.

arebelspy

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #70 on: January 06, 2017, 12:16:01 AM »
2) I was also told "follow your passion" and majored in psychology. I actually had a serious career path. I was determined I wanted to earn my PhD and become an academic social psychologist. I was a great student, and went from state college to a nationally recognized PhD program. Then, suddenly, my curiosity on the subject just ended. Poof. I had literally learned so much I was no longer driven to know any more. I dropped out and for a couple years the best I could do was $9/hour! I eventually earned my MBA and went into project management. Who could have predicted this turn of events!?

This is a good point about overspecialization.  If you follow your passion and then your passion changes, but that's all you're qualified in, you may be in a tough spot.
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Metric Mouse

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #71 on: January 06, 2017, 06:53:13 AM »
This thread makes me very proud of the career exploration projects I've had my students do. Many of my students last year, for example, realized they had been setting themselves up for a major and career they would have hated and/or would not have paid as they imagined, and they continued doing further career research after the project was over.
I have had roughly 100 interns work for me over the last decade or so.  These folks are at least college sophomores two years into their academic program, and at least one a year decides that an IT position is not for them and they change majors.  I usually tell them how lucky they are to have figured that out before they graduated and didn't have the chance to pivot to something they might enjoy more.  Market rate for entry level pay in my LCOL area for a programmer is somewhere between $60K - $70K, so these kids are giving up a pretty solid starting salary for their mental health.

Kudos for having your students think critically about college and their potential career choice.  Hopefully you also point out that a lot of careers require some 'seasoning' doing the not fun grunt work for a year or two before you can progress into the cooler roles.  I would caution your students to look at what an entry level and subsequent level job in that industry looks like. It would be a shame to dismiss a career in something you are passionate about because of a narrow focus on the tasks they'll do in the first job out of college.  I know I wouldn't have throught to think like that when I was 17 and everything was black or white.

We have a tendency for our work experience kids to do the opposite. We take them on a couple of tours, do presentations to them and get them to do the most interesting tasks. They see the most interesting couple of hours in most people's week or month and leave thinking that our work is a non-stop lunch and conversation train.

I'm so pleased for each of the interns that decides that IT isn't for them.

Maybe there's been a shift away from using interns as a form of cheap, temporary labor. I recall one place I worked where all the office inventory, line by line auditing, replacement of restroom tiles, and other grunt work was deliberately scheduled during intern season just so there'd be warm bodies available to do it.

That actually sounds more interesting than some actual jobs I've had.

nobody123

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Re: I don't know what to do with my major!
« Reply #72 on: January 06, 2017, 09:46:26 AM »
I see where you're coming from, but where I work our interns actually get pretty free reign to design new systems (typically talk about a few options they could choose from too).  We want to see what they can bring when they have everything they could need or want.  Interns that don't do well with that, yeah they tend to get gruntwork, but those interns rarely get offers.  I don't see how you can hire an intern for a creative position like a software engineer when you only look at how they handle gruntwork.

I run a couple of development teams as a technical lead, and there is little I hate more than having to hold someone's hand and tell them every step they need to do.  Everyone does gruntwork at all levels, but everyone gets creative work as well.  Dumping it all on the most-junior of people doesn't seem like a great way to instill loyalty or inspire greatness.

Edit: and I'm not saying that you give them nothing but gruntwork, it just seems our companies are approaching the problem differently where we assume they are amazing and you assume they're average entry-level.

Obviously every company is going to tailor their internship program to match their needs.  Reality over a 18 year IT career has taught me that not all programmers are amazing, so I think it's silly to assume everyone can perform at a certain standard until they prove it.  However, we strive to give every intern multiple opportunities to prove that they meet and hopefully exceed the bar for "yes we want to hire them."  Sometimes those opportunities involve showing the ability to efficiently do gruntwork coding and hit a deadline to keep a six-figure senior dev focused on a complex problem, sometimes it means designing and coding a small greenfield project, sometimes it is doing research and coding experimentation on a new technology and presenting their findings to the team, sometimes it could be retro testing a bunch of legacy code after Microsoft or Apple releases OS updates .  Knowing and accepting their role on a project team and being able to quickly learn and adapt as their assignments change are HUGE factors with us.  It's easy to be enthusiastic when you get to use your creativity to design and code a brand new app in the modern framework and language you just learned in class and get to show off to your friends; it takes maturity to muster that same enthusiasm to debug a suddenly failing 25 year old piece of interface code between two legacy systems running on obsolete operating systems with no documentation to guide you.

Completely agree about the handholding.  If an intern still needs to be walked through their tasks at the end of their first semester, we don't have them back.  We'd rather use that slot to try to find someone more talented.