Are you working in the field you went to college for?

I'm all for education, but I wonder if these people were mentored at all when deciding what to go to college/university for. I have many friends who's kids are currently in college for journalism, arts, or some sort of dead language, and find it heartbreaking that the parents (my age) hope their kids will find a nice secure job at a newspaper or working as an artist or author. These aren't exactly hoppin' career paths today.

Listen, if you want to 'grow up' to be an artist, you may not exactly need training in art history or study Picasso. My opinion is that you will need to learn how to make a living from what you want to do, manage your fiances, learn about contract laws, marketing, small business management, how to write well, etc. 

My little brother, who is now 25, wanted to go to university for a degree – I don't remember what – that I had him go and search for jobs. There were none and a flood of people looking with decades more experience than he would have out the gate. I had suggested a more general business management degree, and with that he could have a wider pick of industries. Now he's working at an elevator company making a killing straight from college and has multiple job offers from competing industries on a regular basis. 

I am all for living your passion but you need to look forward and look at the current and projected job market (if you are not inclined to be an entrepreneur). No one ever thinks "I want to spend $110k on my education and be in debt for 20+ years and be un/under employed the entire time." Everyone wants to earn a lot of money. I hope that more people are willing to step up and honestly mentor the upcoming generations to help guide them to looking long term all while following their passions and creativity. I for one have stepped up to the plate <grin>

Now, I'm not saying that anyone in this article that went to school for engineering or the sciences made a bad choice. I'm thinking that they could use some solid mentorship to help guide them into their hopeful fields of employment. The farther you get from where you want to be (say, flipping burgers rather than working in a R&D lab) the farther you are from the very people and contacts that can help you rise up.


Reshared post from +Guy Kawasaki

(Sat01) Great photo essay of seventeen recent graduates who are not working in their desired fields:

Photo credit: Reuters/Peter Andrews

Google+: Reshared 3 times
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  1. says

    I'm working in the field I got a degree for.  While not pushing the college at all costs meme, I will note that you get a lot more out of college than just the degree, things which help considerably in whatever job you wind up with.  So there is that.

  2. says

    I am kinda working in the field. Got IT Degree and I am working in a place where I change toners and repair Copy/Printer/Scanners if its a minor repair. So I am closer to the PC

  3. says

    I'm of mixed emotions on this one.

    Out of the 3 US members on the list, one is apparently not a legal resident nor did he finish his degree. The other two apparently did not have the right contacts to get work closer to their field (the painter did get a "general business management degree" and still ended up working out of her "field")

    For the non-US members of the list I would have to say it involves more sponsorship than contacts, the ideal route for hard sciences would be either Germany or the US (both of which need engineers and researchers greater than their own populations currently supply).

    Without more information on all of these individuals I have no clue if they are truly unfortunate or are victims of their own bad decisions or somewhere between the two.

  4. says

    I do work in the field I went to collage for, but not the side of the field.  Collage trained me to be a programmer, but I am a network and systems engineer.  Having a programmer's eye helps, but I don't do a lot of actual programming.  That stated, I wanted to be a System Administrator and System Engineer, so… Not a bad turn out for me over all.

  5. says

    Also to the point when a young person asks me about what I do I tell them this.  "What I do is often hard, some times dirty, filled with stress, long hours, and time sacrificed from your friends and family.  It is not for the faint of heart.  If you love technology, and I mean like eat it and sleep it love, then study and work very hard.  Else don't do it, the early grave isn't worth it."

  6. says

    Kinda a mixed bag with me since I'm both working in my field of study and not.  With me it's like this — you need to develop multiple income streams to survive these days.  I would not discourage college in any way both for the education and the social experience — but I would discourage taking a course of study that's a dead end. Even though there is a preponderance of graduates who are chemists, engineers, etc in the article — those are still useful skills.   While I'm not against being a big thinker — I do think that a degree in philosophy may not be so useful these days.  

  7. says

    I wish I had started at a community college or taken a year off before jumping into school.  However, that just isn't something that's done in my community, so at 18 when I'd been having my hand held for 18 years and told what to do, I picked a major and went to a University.  Outcome?  I'm 25, failed out of college, unemployed, $10,000 in debt, and living in my parents house.

    Now that I'm 25 I've discovered Occupational Therapy and I will go to school for it … eventually.  For now, I've taken a kiddy corner step towards OT, and become a Certified Nurses Aide.

  8. says

    While not feasible for everyone, this is why I do think a gap year (a year out of school between high school & college, preferably doing something useful) is helpful in focusing on what it is you want to do and how to go about it.

  9. says

    hummmm good topic, i went to college by the age of 17 but just because i was sure of what i wanted to be, my best friend decide to study the same career but i think she took the same pad because well here there is not so many options and I think she was not sure about it, anyway she was unable to finish,( by the way i am still on collage studying architecture I will finish in one year.) but in my country collage is a privilege not a lot of people have. Just 0.1% of all the population goes to college. We have to study and work at the same time, just to go to college and not work is a luxury that not many people can afford. So here we diversified, i am studying architecture in the mind time i work at a call center plus i have a small business with my best friend that she finally end up studying  marketing. here we don't have many options, we wish we could study art or philosophy any way if something does not work for you just try again another thing, but you most find something you love to do and give you a good income to live just fine, because anyway why you will want a lot of money doing something you don't like? That’s not a good life. Enjoy! Because life is short to live doing something you don't like just to have a lot of money. Try to find balance.

  10. says

    My2Cents – A College Degree Is A Fast Track Substitution For Experience.

    Regardless Of Career Choice Or Degree Plans. In The End, The Bottom Line Is The G.P.A.: It Is The Proof In The Pudding.

    A College Degree On It's Face, Is Proof The  Individual Without Real World Experience Can Apply Themselves Over A Period Of Months And Days To A Degree Plan With A Measured Result; The Grade Point Average Must Be 3.5 Plus Or Better.   

    1) Make Your Calling And Election Sure: An Investment In Self And Networking.. 
    2) Attendance Records
    3) Grade Point Average. Apply Oneself With Measured Results Over And Extended Period Of Time ( Months/Years)
    4) Job Market Skills Demand.
    5) Location, Location, Location


  11. says

    I don't work at all in the area I studied, but I've always been well employed. I studied art history at an Ivy League school, and I've been working for years in online communications for progressive non-profit organizations.

    BUT I graduated in 1998. Back then, the internet was still fairly new and not many people had any experience working in my field. All you really needed then was curiosity, ability to learn quickly, and a somewhat orderly way of thinking (the ability to learn and understand the concepts behind html, databases, etc). My liberal arts background prepared me fine for all that.

    If I graduated today with the same degree and experiences I had then, I doubt I'd be so lucky. Many of our interns are on their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th internship after finishing college because they can't find a "real" job, and we get a ton of internship applications from people with masters degrees.

  12. says

    I must slightly disagree with +W Bill S Walker .  While a GPA can be important it is not the beginning and end to the usefulness of a degree.  For example mine was a 2.3.  The reason is I am learning disabled.  I have Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and ADHD -i (Also known as ADD).  With many hours of diagnostic testing to back up each as a diagnosis. My degree is still useful how ever, and I over came the low GPA with additional hard work.  So, even though a GPA can be helpful, it does not stop the degree from being useful.

  13. says

    That depends on the sector.  A call center is not where you want to be.  A developer is not where you want to be.  The network side of the house is a good spot for an entire career.  An internal help desk is a medium business is also a good place to be.

  14. says

    In college I did a job interview in the back of a pinball company.  I saw a prototype for an arcade game that later became Mortal Kombat.  I got that job.  I quit college.

    Follow your own passion.  Don't owe the money to a school or institution.  And definitely don't go to school to try to get a degree in what I did.(game schools=fake degrees)

    Life is college.