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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


A question you should ask yourself

Last weekend, I was invited to a formal dinner with some of my friends back from middle school John, Erin, and Vanessa. It was very casual-that was until John asked us about our career goals.  “A doctor” Vanessa said.  “A lawyer” John said.  “A teacher” Erin said.  There was a long pause.

Their eyes were fixed on me, awaiting my answer.  “A hobo,” I said, to relieve the air of seriousness that surrounded the conversation.  But, truthfully, I just did not know.

Throughout my life, I cannot count the number of times I changed my mind with career goals.

When I was seven, I used to love watching Toy Story so much that I told my parents I wanted to be Buzz Lightyear.  Then, when I was ten, I told them I wanted to be a train conductor after an engaging class trip to a train museum in Brooklyn.

That career goal ended when I had a terrible nightmare one night where I was run over by one.  Then, when I was twelve, I said I wanted to be police officer because I was fanciful about what it was like to chase and catch criminals.

When I was in high school, I was more realistic.  I told my parents that I desired to be a science teacher because I excelled in my science classes.  But, even then, I was still uncertain because I changed my mind ever so often.  Now, in college, I am still undecided.

And I know I am not alone.  Every year, a small percentage of students arrive at college not knowing their career goal.  But, the fact is that percentage is an underestimate.

There are some students who are undecided about their career goals, but consider choosing to major in biomedical engineering solely because it is practical.

According to CNN Money Watch, the engineering job growth rate is projected to increase by seventy two percent in ten years, which means there will be very good job prospects.

Other students I know plan to major in business or economics because they are interested in the rosy prospects the job brings rather than the job itself.

They claim that it is an “easy” major and are overly confident that the US will be lifted from its economic recession by the time they graduate.

But, the truth is, this view is problematic.  It is wrong to choose a major solely because it is “easy”.  In fact, many jobs in the financial sector are swallowed up by engineering, math, and even humanities majors from elite colleges.

It has been reported that students who major in the humanities apply for jobs in the finance sector “as their backup”. The market for these high-paying jobs is very competitive, and corporations seek applicants who are the most well-rounded and qualified.

Not only that, the dismal state of the economy shows little improvement in these job markets.

Given the high unemployment that plagues the US economy, many are focused on job security and good salaries.  Many parents, in fact, push their children towards fields, such as finance and engineering because the job markets in their native countries for majors, such as English and history, were abysmal.  It is understandable they do this out of worry for their children’s future.

Although these are legitimate concerns, they should not be main reasons to pursue fields like engineering or math.  For anyone who is undecided, it is more important to be certain that the major genuinely interests you.

Pursue something that interests you rather than dread the rest of your life with something that bores you.  The key with your major is to find a job that you enjoy and a salary that will enable you to be happy and live your life well.

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