why you should take a class just for fun even in a world with no jobs left

There are all these lists of college subjects you might have foolishly majored in that will eventually lead to your starvation in a gutter. The ten majors that will cause you to starve the fastest!

There are all these lists of things you can do wrong, by accident, just because you thought it sounded interesting, that will end up ruining your career prospects and your life and probably your chance at ever seeming sexy.

There is also a very short list with the three majors that will result in happiness. Or at least enough food to keep you alive.

That list never contains my major. But at the time, I really thought I was being practical. I was going to be a professor, after all. 

(Ha! I can’t remember anything! How was I going to be a professor? You need to know FACTS for that)

Actually, by the time I got to grad school, I was so focused that I only took one class that had nothing to do with what I was studying. And that was the class that changed my life. 

 

Walking through Washington Square Park, skirting around the edge of one of those ubiquitous street fairs with the endless mozzerepas, I was telling Bear about a friend.

“How did you guys meet again?” he said.

 “In that writing class,” I said.

It was creative non-fiction writing. At the time, the class seemed like it was probably a mistake, and definitely felt frivolous. I figured it would be the least likely to contribute to my eventual (potential) success. I figured it was distracting me from my real work. There were only about eight of us in it. The instructor wrote occasionally for The New Yorker. He seemed really young and slightly uncomfortable.  It felt like a piece of cake.

(source)

“Let’s go this way,” said Bear, leading me away from the street fair.

“Good idea,” I said.

“I’m glad we’re so similar,” he said. “It’s so nice that you don’t like people either.”

 I laughed. “I love that about us,” I said. 

And it’s true about street fairs and boardwalks and amusement parks and even many concerts. But also, I need people in a way that continues to surprise me, even though it’s pretty much the most basic human emotion.

I started telling Bear about the class, randomly. About what I’d thought of everyone in it at the time. How this girl, who was so intimidatingly gorgeous, is now my friend. How this girl, whose writing I wanted to mimic, is now my friend. How this spunky, opinionated girl who laughed at herself a lot is now my friend, somehow.

I completed the class without really befriending anyone. With some reassuring notes from the instructor and a grade that didn’t mean much to me.

And then, at least half a year later, someone I’d met there started a writing group. I showed up with a quiche I’d made. I felt immediately, strangely, at home in her apartment.

The group got me working on personal essays and helped me learn where and how to submit them. The group became my support system in an unfamiliar world. I had just made the least practical decision of my life. I’d decided to give writing a try. 

The first writing group branched into a second one, for fiction, where I shyly shared the fantasy novel I have been quietly growing– my embarrassing secret passion. And where we talked about our siblings and our parents and our goals and our frustrations and whether or not we want babies one day and love and strategies for job success and definitely our sex lives. Writing group connections led to my first writing jobs. They formed the foundation of my network. People in the groups introduced me to their friends, their coworkers, their editors. The writing groups made me work harder. They made me crazy sometimes. They made me wish that I’d gotten married later so that the writers could be in my wedding. They were part of what made me a writer. And it began with that class.

A class that was not supposed to lead anywhere.

(source)

I think people should try to be practical. It’s important to dream, and equally important to learn how to operate in a world that’s wide awake, perpetually pissed off,  and often impersonal.

When my brother asked me for advice about what to major in in college, I told him computer science. I was scared. I wanted him to get job offers. I keep reading those Op-Eds in which it’s revealed that no one  will ever get a job offer again. In which our country has destroyed my nineteen-year-old brother’s chances at ever having hope, let alone gainful employment. I keep reading those statistics that go “and, unfortunately, those who don’t find a job immediately after college (within fifteen minutes of graduation) will continue to struggle with unemployment and underemployment five and ten years in the future. They will almost certainly live in their parents’ basements. They will fruitlessly attempt to define themselves as ‘artists,’ in order to maintain some sort of social credibility. But ultimately, they will succumb to a deep, unshakable depression. In a sense, they will never truly ‘catch up.’”

I told my brother to do computer science. Just suck it up and do something on one of the success lists. He tried that, and now he’s switching his major again.

“I like interacting with people,” he explained.

And of course, that’s true. Socially, he’s unstoppable. Everyone loves this kid. And the people who don’t secretly wish they were more like him.

I think it’s important to be practical, but also, you never know what practical might end up looking like. It might end up involving some of your most obvious skills—the ones you never thought were particularly marketable. The ones that didn’t win you A’s. The ones that were always there, hidden in plain sight.

Your “real” work might turn out to be something you can’t imagine right now.

(source)

When I took that writing class in grad school, I was pretty sure it didn’t count because I liked it so much.

I am pretty sure that creative writing always ends up on one of the “you suck” lists. I am pretty sure that if I hadn’t taken that class, my life would be a lot different. It would not be nearly as good. 

I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll just say:

We read too many lists. Life is more of a rambling tale with slurred words and bizarre twists and joy tucked into places you didn’t expect to find it in. It’s hard to come up with a thesis statement. It’s more like a really long poem without any structure.

Occasionally, something that seems like a piece of cake will turn out to be just as delicious.

*  *  *

Can you think of something you did just because you wanted to that led to a lot of awesome stuff in your life?

Unroast: Today I love the way I can sometimes look good in pink. It always catches me off guard.

P.S. I feel like someone is going to yell at me for this post. Am I wrong to suggest that people should do things they like? That feels a little wrong somehow, sometimes.

P.P.S. The clothing giveaway is going for a few more days! Check it out

41 Comments »

Kate on May 29th 2012 in family, life, work, writing

41 Responses to “why you should take a class just for fun even in a world with no jobs left”

  1. Amanda responded on 29 May 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    During my sophomore year of college, while studying to be a teacher, I took Intro to Astronomy to fulfill a general ed requirement. I loved it and ended up applying for an on-campus job as a Planetarium Lecturer the following quarter. It was a fun job (and much more casual than I expected) and I met the man who would become my husband while under that star dome.

  2. Kate responded on 29 May 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Alright!! Awesome story. Also, I have ALWAYS loved planetariums!

  3. Ceci responded on 29 May 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    I completely agree with the idea that there’s value to doing things just because they interest you, without any concern for practicality. I spent so much time in high school and my early college career studying the “right” things, the things that I thought had value, prestige, and future career opportunities. At some point, I realized that I had lost the ability to honestly answer, “what do I like? what am I interested in?” without all of the extra baggage of, “what will get me a job? what is impressive?”–and that scared me. I decided that maybe the key is to balance things out, which is what I ended up doing, majoring in something hard-science-y and something humanities-y. Because really–studying computer science may guarantee you a job after graduation. But if the subject doesn’t interest you and you hate that job, you will dread going to work every day, and that will kill you, little by little. Happiness is the best kind of success, I think.

    Also, what I took away from this article is that you can still change your mind! I love that you studied one thing all the way through undergrad and graduate school, had a change of heart, and started over. That gives me so much hope–that there’s always time left to do something we love.

  4. Melanie responded on 29 May 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Neither of my majors were practical. I started out a Spanish major, with thoughts that maybe I’d become an interpreter or something. I took my first Child Development course and loved it so much that I immediately switched majors. Some would say it’s a useless degree, but I find the human condition, and the nature vs. nurture aspects of our development so enthralling, that to me it was totally worth it.

    I’m now with the Department of Education in CA, and the degree has helped me promote far more quickly than I would have had I not had the degree. So it wasn’t useless in practical terms either. Go me!

  5. Kate responded on 29 May 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    @Ceci
    Yes, that’s a perfect thing to take away from this! Thank you.

  6. Kate responded on 29 May 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    @Melanie
    Go you!!

  7. Jen responded on 29 May 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Kate! I simply LOVE this “We read too many lists. Life is more of a rambling tale with slurred words and bizarre twists and joy tucked into places you didn’t expect to find it in. It’s hard to come up with a thesis statement. It’s more like a really long poem without any structure.” So true!

    I’m a graphic designer with a two year degree in communications. I really don’t know how I ever ended up with the job I have, I’m so blessed, but I often feel like there is more out there. So many people say “You have a good job, that’s what is important.” But with every inch of my being I just can’t believe that. Yes, being able to feed myself is important but will I be happy sitting behind this desk reading blogs (great ones by the way) for the rest of my life? No. I’m so glad you went for what you love! You have one life! Do what you love! Shave your head, eat cake, and you should rock the slinkiest bikini you can find! ;)

  8. Hannah responded on 29 May 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    If you’re wrong, then I’m wrong too. I was a LIBERAL ARTS major. It doesn’t get any more “totally-impractical-on-paper” than that.

    It sounds even worse than “philosophy” sometimes or to some people.

    Remember when Steve Jobs died and everyone was running articles ? about how wonderful he was? Every single one I saw referenced his Stanford Commencement speech, and that had mentioned a Calligraphy class that he took. He said that if he had never dropped in on it, he would have never been inspired to create new fonts for the Mac….

    Who can tell where our experiences are going? And I don’t mean to say that everything needs to be practical, but that I know that someday all of my experiences, educationally and professionally and personally and all the other ‘realms’ of life, will coalesce into something amazing. Everything shapes us.
    And that’s amazing.

    And if it doesn’t? If everything is just a long, unstructured poem? That’s amazing too.

  9. Another Melanie responded on 29 May 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Well, today is my first day of class pursuing a second bachelors in… Computer Science. :) I’m really hoping I like it AND I’m good at it AND (and this is the probably the biggest “and”) that it gets me a good job after graduation.

    I actually considered taking a course or two in it during my first undergrad experience, but I was completely focused on my degree track so I didn’t. Maybe things would be different now if I’d branched out and took a chance back then…

  10. Sheryl responded on 29 May 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    My major (philosophy) invariably ends up on the “ten majors to help you starve the fastest) list. But you know what? I loved it. It filled a need in my soul. It challenged me. And it suited me – people would introduce me as “this is my friend Sher, she’s a philosophy major” as if that said everything about me.

    But for me, what was surprisingly meaningful was getting experience on my school’s student’s union’s council and board of directors. I discovered that hey, I like business. Which was a shocker.

  11. Stacey responded on 29 May 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    I majored in English Literature, which is ALWAYS on those lists. And during college I never even considered what classes would be practical for my future – I just knew that things like business, computer sciences, and nursing sounded unbelievably horrible to me, and that reading books and learning about the English language sounded like a much more enjoyable use of my time and money. And eventually, because of my major, I got to go to Oxford for a semester and study literature with some amazing professors, and then I went to China for a while to teach English. (And, in a very roundabout way, I met my husband because of all that.)

    Now I clean houses, which is one of those things that people always say you’ll end up doing if you major in English, but I don’t mind. My degree was (and still is) personally and intellectually satisfying, and I would rather have that kind of satisfaction while cleaning houses my whole life than I would working in a soul-sucking job that earned me lots of money.

  12. Also Kate responded on 29 May 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Oh wow, it’s not just me. What is it about thinking all the classes you take in college must be “hard” (and by this I think we all mean “especially difficult for me”). I shied away from creative nonfiction, anthropology, religious studies, and history for my first two years of college because reading books and making connections and writing long papers felt too easy, which meant it must be wrong, right? I was supposed to be slaving over problem sets that, yes, I enjoyed, but always made me feel like I was bending my brain into the wrong kind of shape, in a room full of people whose brains naturally bent that way.

    Once I sorted out that liking something and being good at it didn’t make it *automatically the wrong thing to do* or a total copout, life got a lot easier. What is it about finding the thing that you do well that makes so many of us jump to the conclusion that it’s not what we’re supposed to be doing?

  13. Abby responded on 29 May 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Thank you, for reminding me not to read those lists. Because whenever I do, I just get more and more depressed and uncertain about the choice I’ve made.

    I’m a double major in Music and Theater and I’m picking up an Cultural Anthropology minor….none of those have made the list for “likely to get you a good paying job.” Or, y’know, a list like “If you want a job you should study this.”

    But I love what I’m doing. I really, truly can’t imagine doing something with my life that DOESN’T involve any of those things. And it might not be practical….but then again, how practical is it to study something that you have absolutely no interest in, in the hopes that you MIGHT get a job (because really, in this economy, there are no guarantees)?

    And sometimes it scares me so, so much. That everything I’m studying, every class I’m taking, none of it will help me in the real world and I’ll be stuck in a job I hate. Or that I’m just not good enough–and, not surprisingly, a lot of this can tie in with body image. Because I’m not exactly the “romantic lead” material and I certainly don’t look like Scarlett Johannsen or any of those other beautiful and talented and witty people you see walking the red carpet.

    But maybe, there’s a place I can find that fits me. I don’t know if it will be in music, or theater, or anthropology or a huge strange crazy amalgamation of the three…but I think that the world needs dreamers, not just dreamers but innovators, and I think that maybe, just maybe, I can be one. (Or maybe it’s just that in the end, I really can’t imagine doing something that I’m not passionate about until I retire.)

  14. Gina responded on 29 May 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    After spending, OH..5 YEARS studying something I didn’t like, but thought I should like because I was good at (Chemistry), I fully support doing something just because you like it. I took a neuropsychology class for “fun” and fell in love with psychology. Then I started working at a social welfare agency with kids for “something to do that wasn’t academic” and I found out I love mentoring children. Now I know I won’t be stuck in a sad, boring, unfulfilling (but successful!) career as a professor or researcher or something. I’ve got big plans to study counseling or social work. Because of things I did because I like them. And it’s so so much better this way.

  15. katilda responded on 29 May 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    first, i wrote an article about the “non-job” benefits of grad school the other day: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-hawkes/grad-school-worth-the-pri_b_1534141.html

    second, i love the question about one little decision that led to a lot of awesome stuff…i feel like my life is a whole intricate mass of these types of trails that i can trace back. (connect-the-dot life?) there’s always the stories of that random friend that i met that led to a random boy that i dated that led to meeting another friend who turned out to be a best friend….etc etc. one of my favorite stories is when i up and quit a “responsible” job after 4 weeks of hell during my first summer of college (note: don’t get a responsible job when you’ve just started college. it’s too soon.) and i up and got in a car and drove away to volunteer at a summer camp, where i ended up meeting a girl who volunteered with the make-a-wish foundation, and thusly i decided to volunteer there later in college and it led to a deep passionate love of the organization, which led to interning there after graduating, which led to working there for a year and a half, which was amazing in and of itself but also led to meeting a writer on the PR team who became a good friend and mentor (despite being a male, 20 years older than me, long-haired hard-rocker who was opposite from me in pretty much every way except our shared love for 80s movies) which ended up leading to me doing what i’m doing now….writing! (i like that yours and mine stories have the same ending….writing.) speaking of writing, i’ll end this novel now!

  16. Frances responded on 29 May 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    I think you should read a book called “Reflections” by Dianna Wynne Jones. About writing fantasy, creating a real-make-believe world. And just about writing. She clearly just did what she liked and loved it.

    I am currently at piece-of-cake school, literally. Which is making me just as happy as my actual degree. But I expected that. (Making cake for a living, by the way, pays a pittance. You can’t starve, though, because there is always a leftover lemon tart.)

    Having a blog, which felt too nerdy to admit, brought me happiness in surprising ways.

    Have a lovely week! xx

  17. Pam responded on 29 May 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    I like this blog. A lot.

    Also, http://xkcd.com/137/

  18. Lauren Michelle responded on 29 May 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    I wish I could go back and do college all over again. I had such a sucky final semester with a fiction class that could’ve been a lot more awesome if I hadn’t been in such a terrible funk the whole semester. I wish I could find a writing group in my area. That would be awesome. This is partly why I’m applying to graduate programs in English – to reconcile.

  19. melissa responded on 29 May 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    oh… well that’s why your typical college was never intended to train people for jobs in the first place hehe. That’s what med school is for, or law school. The rest of it is just a scam, really. People would pay big bucks if they thought just staying in school a few extra years would guarantee them a career!

  20. bethany actually responded on 29 May 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    “We read too many lists. Life is more of a rambling tale with slurred words and bizarre twists and joy tucked into places you didn’t expect to find it in. It’s hard to come up with a thesis statement. It’s more like a really long poem without any structure.”

    YES YES A HUNDRED TIMES YES!

    I was a National Merit Scholar in high school. I could have gone to any university in the country, pretty much, and gotten a full-ride scholarship. I chose to go to the decent-but-also-a-party-school in my home state, an hour away from my hometown, because my then-boyfriend was going to another school in the same city. I broke up with the boyfriend partway through my freshman year, OF COURSE I DID.

    But I don’t regret going to that school, not one tiny bit. I got to spend a year living with one of my best friends from high school, which was superduper fun, and we made it through some rough patches in our relationship in a way that cemented our friendship, and she’s still one of my very best friends today, almost 20 years later. And of course I met my husband at that school, and I can’t imagine life without him, or our daughters.

  21. Erinn responded on 29 May 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    I majored and got a Ph.D. in philosophy. Now I’m a professor (which is pretty much all you’re qualified to do with a doctorate in a humanities field!). Almost everyone I encounter in the university is concerned about practicality – questioning the practicality of certain fields of study or trying to figure out how to make even philosophy practical. It’s what my students want, what their parents want for them, what the university administrators want… but “practical” has come to be essentially code for “makes you or someone else a lot of money, regardless of whether it is worthwhile or interesting or contributes something meaningful to the world, or, on the other hand, whether it causes harm.” So, sometimes I want to keep what I do and what I teach as impractical as possible! (which, of course, I think is really the *most* practical thing if we think about practical not as increase stock value but increase beautiful, interesting, engaging experiences in our lives! But, everyone is too worried about security to think about whether it’s worth it to live your life like that – doing what you’re supposed to do in order to have stability…)

  22. morgaine responded on 29 May 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    As a Latin major, I feel every bit of this.

    The way I figure it, as someone with two hands, a decent mind, and the ability to wait tables, I will never starve. Beyond that, being affluent simply isn’t important to me. I’d rather feed my soul.

  23. San D responded on 30 May 2012 at 4:13 am #

    I taught that seemingly useless class…puppetry! Yup, taught puppetry. And guess what? The classes were filled to the brim with students who not only learned some new skills (designing, sewing, acting, writing, producing, directing and performing), but laughed their butts off while doing it. Joy in learning, what a concept! I told their parents (this was high school afterall) that I was preparing them for the real world where you worked in tight spaces, together as a group, producing a final product. Difference was with these “coworkers” you could glue clothes on them, then pack them in a box.

  24. Gemma from NZ responded on 30 May 2012 at 6:24 am #

    You know what’s funny, I did a science degree, I scoffed at Arts degree’s thinking they’ll never get a job, and now it is officially ‘harder than ever to find a science graduate job in NZ’ I’ve been out of uni (college)a year and half and have yet to find a job in my field.
    I got a science job but not in my field left it to move cities for love, and now I do science admin and it kills me.
    So now I’m left feeling cheated, I did the practical degree now where is my job???

  25. Alpana Trivedi responded on 30 May 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Hello, Kate. God bless you for writing about this. I was in college for nine years because I was AVOIDING the real world (does the Navy count as the real world? LOL). In any case, my majors were in English (concentration in creative writing) and psychology. I did get a lot of “What are you going to DO with them?” It’s funny, back in the day, the whole point of higher education was to become well-rounded and…..well, educated. You became a better person BECAUSE of that well-roundedness and lived life better for it, no matter what you did for a living. And you have a point. It seems that even with the most “practical” majors, there’s no guarantee of a lucrative job when you graduate. All I know is….I have no regrets. Hooyah for taking classes.

  26. San D responded on 30 May 2012 at 9:33 am #

    I wanted to add this: In the 70′s when I graduated with a Fine Arts education degree, I had a hard time finding a job. In fact it took me 7 years before I would find a teaching job. In the meantime I took any job that would take me, sometimes working 3 at one time. I felt every job would make me a better teacher, and never for once thought I wouldn’t teach. I worked for a lawyer, a bank, a printer, a home for delinquent girls, and I taught night school. If you know or saw me, the lawyer/banker thing was actually kinda funny, I didn’t fit their molds at all, and in fact was let go from the bank because I was intimidating the other ‘girls’ with my ‘smarts’. As life would have it, when the bank passed on me, I did find a part time teaching job which eventually parlayed into a full time one. My point, keep your eye on the prize, scan the newspapers, network, and above all bring something to the table, because in the end it will all culminate with a job. Oh, and last piece of advice if you intend to have a career make it something you love, because working at something you don’t like can be a living hell.

  27. Laura responded on 30 May 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I’m in grad school for archaeology. I’ve actually known that I want to be an archaeologist since I was 12, but the pressure to do something “practical” still applies. People are always telling me “Oh, I always wanted to be an archaeologist but then I did {insert practical thing here} instead because it was more practical.” I never really know how to respond to that. Look, I know that when I get my Ph.D. in about 5 years, I may not be able to get a job in academia. In that case, I’ll be sad and then I’ll try something else. But I LOVE archaeology graduate school, and it’s worth my time right now. Isn’t that what matters?

  28. Laura responded on 30 May 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Also, I think a lot of the pressure to do something “practical” comes from the huge amount of student loans many people have to take out. They want to make sure they can repay those loans. That makes taking “impractical” classes that you love seem like a privilege of the wealthy.

  29. andrea responded on 30 May 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    You are absolutely correct. And, I think the (bigger) problem stems from the idea that got pounded in our (gen x & y) heads that you MUST MUST MUST go to college after high school. Why is that? Who knows, at 17, EXACTLY what they want to do and focus on, or even LOVE to do? I didn’t. I knew I loved to write, but didn’t want to pursue a career. I knew I loved being creative (crafts, painting, etc.), but I was never really shown how that can make a life. I knew I loved kids…but I didn’t want to get burnt out on them before having a chance to have my own.

    So, after three semesters of college, I didn’t know what to major in, but I HAD to make a choice. I didn’t know what I wanted my career to be three years from then, but I did know that I had enjoyed my American Government class. It was interesting and pretty easy, so I signed up to major in Political Science. Looking back, I don’t know why no one asked, “Why?” Because if they had, my answer would’ve been (and still is), “I dunno…It’s kinda interesting and pretty easy.” I had no goals (or thoughts) of becoming a politician, professor, lawyer, or anything that a PoliSci major usually strives for. So what did I want to do?

    I didn’t know then, but I’m getting more in touch with it now, at 31. After graduation, I got a job at a local car dealership that I had temped at the summer before. They gave me great full time hours, a nice wage, benefits, etc. And the job was pretty good. Here I am, almost 9 years later, and my job is still pretty good.

    But what makes me feel better every day than ‘pretty good’ is my creative outlet — my blog I started last fall, after figuring out that there are people out there that actually do that. They share their thoughts, projects, homes, lives, advice, etc., and sometimes they get paid for it! Not that I started my blog to make money, but what I did was start my blog because I wanted to. No one said, ‘You MUST MUST MUST start a blog’ in the same way my parents and teachers told me ‘You MUST MUST MUST go to college’…I just figured it all out and started it.

    I think there’s too much ‘You MUST do this’ and advice giving and not enough of letting kids/young adults just figure things out for themselves. You figured out for yourself that writing is who you are, and by taking that leap of faith because YOU wanted to – it’s way more rewarding.

    So, I think if it’s gonna continue to be pounded into kids’ heads that they MUST go to college, there needs to be more proactive assessment of their likes, dislikes, wants, dreams, desires, and needs. At $50,000+ per year for many private institutions, no young adult deserves a mountain of student loan debt if they don’t love what they earned it for….right?

  30. anya responded on 31 May 2012 at 8:31 am #

    You know, I’m gonna be the odd one out here and tell you the truth. Yeah, you can and should do something that you love, but only if your parents/husband/rich aunt afford it OR if you aren’t frustrated waiting tables/cleaning houses. If you’re the ambitious kind please please find something more practical and paying that doesn’t kill your soul. You’ll be fine, you can fund some great hobbies, travels, art seeing, and security is low on maslow piramid. That’s not saing you should be a litigator when you hate conflict, or an engineer if you hate numbers/logic but there are tons of practical stuff you can do. Allow yourself to try them before dismissing the “boring” majors. Lots of kids don’t ever get the chance to like programming, because they don’t get to study it in high-school ( I fortunately did, and I liked it). I started out to be an electronics engineer. I switched to Information Engineering , having a secure job in programming. Then I realized I don’t like programming 9 h a day, so I switched to database warehousing, architecture, administration. I got a MD in that. The jobs, much harder to find, but I finally found something connected , that I like and pays well.
    But there are so many paths in science and engineering and economics and one of them might be you. One of my colleagues who’s and electronics engineer by profession fell in love with medieval music and german language and now he’s working in cultural events organization and planning. Another one is now a fierce auditor. You just never know

  31. Kate responded on 31 May 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    @Andrea
    I agree– the idea that college needs to come right after high school (or at all!) is sometimes very destructive. I felt pretty grown up at 18, but I really, really wasn’t. So many people I know now, at 26, say they wish they could go back, and study more seriously, and pursue the interests they developed over the years.

  32. Kate responded on 31 May 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    @anya
    Nothing wrong with trying things! Or with “practical” fields. Sometimes they’re even really enjoyable. Everyone likes doing SOMETHING that someone else finds boring.

  33. Kate responded on 31 May 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    @San D
    I love your story.

  34. Kate responded on 31 May 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    @Another Melanie
    Good for you!! I hope I didn’t come off as insulting computer science (Bear studied it and loves it and the girls I know who study/studied it are almost always awesome).

  35. Another Melanie responded on 31 May 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    @Kate
    Oh, no, I didn’t mean you were insulting it! I just found it interesting that you happened to mention it in your post on my first day. :)

    I didn’t know that’s what your husband had studied either, but it seems to have served him well! My first BS was in a another, less marketable STEM field, so I’m already the sorta-nerdy-sciencey-type and hoping this transition won’t be too jarring.

    Thanks for replying! I’m mainly a lurker, but I do read daily and absolutely love and relate to your posts. :)

  36. Kate responded on 31 May 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    @Another Melanie
    So, how was your first day?!

    And yes! His BS was actually in this cross-disciplinary thing that involved philosophy and psychology and he did CS after that :-) Maybe you two should talk!

    And nothin’ wrong with blog lurking, but thanks for your comments!

  37. Steph responded on 31 May 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Have you ever noticed that the universe points you to things when you need them? I LOVE this piece. I’ve been struggling with feeling like a failure and this was a good reminder that there are all kinds of ways to be in the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Today I love the way I feel when I read smart writing about important stuff that the mainstream ignores.

  38. Yan responded on 31 May 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    I ended up an art history major because I wanted to fill a hole in my schedule. I didn’t take the class because I really wanted to, but for more prosaic reasons (I needed one more class and didn’t want to get up earlier in the mornings), but I found something I loved, something that lead, in a roundabout way, to a job I really enjoy.

    In grad school (for art history), I took a Tae Kwon Do class because I really wanted to try it. Turns out that fighting people is not a strength of mine (I don’t want to hit anyone!), but I did learn that I could move my body in ways that felt good, that being totally lacking in athletic skill didn’t mean I couldn’t find enjoyable ways to move.

    I think following random whims can lead to some of the best things in life.

  39. Eat the Damn Cake » I love you, Carl Sagan responded on 05 Jun 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    [...] parents’ house. My mom threw my brother a college graduation party. He went to conservatory for classical flute so he performed at the party, and it was really awesome. I am so proud of that [...]

  40. Another Melanie responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 10:41 am #

    @Kate
    My first day was pretty good (as well as the second and third – sorry for the delayed response!). I was really nervous and felt like a little kid again, at 28, but there was really nothing to be nervous about.

    I’ve always liked school and done well at it; I just have to adjust to the new, fuller schedule of working full-time and going to school part-time. So far it seems manageable, so I’m encouraged!

  41. Eat the Damn Cake » what happens when you turn thirty responded on 20 Jun 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    [...] is a guest post from one of my favorite writers. Her name is Erica. I met her in a class that actually changed my life. In that class, I thought, “I want to be like Erica.” Later, she was in my tiny writing [...]

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