Choosing Joy Over Job Security
Senior Compass Series
I decided to be an economics major when I submitted my application to Georgetown University. Needing to come up with a major I could write an essay about, I chose economics to use phrases like “versatile” and “positively contribute to society.”
I probably spent more time studying the “Rate My Professor” pages than the course material. I decided to go with macroeconomics because the micro professor had a 0.4 point-lower rating; plus,
microeconomics sounded harder. The reviews I read were not very enthusiastic. “So boring!” and “tolerable” were the most helpful posts.
The reason I decided to continue with an economics major after committing to Georgetown was the same reason many students use to justify their own stint as an econ major — I wanted to have an answer for Uncle Tom’s or Aunt Laura’s inevitable question at Thanksgiving dinner: “What are you going to do with that after graduation?” The question got much harder during my sophomore year, when I switched to an English degree, which I am set to receive next month.
For the one semester I continued with it, an economics degree felt safe. It promised a summer internship in New York or a place to sleep other than my parents’ couch after graduation. We have all heard what happens to English majors: Dunkin’ Donuts, Peet’s Coffee, or — for the lucky few — Starbucks. At least with an English degree, I would be better at spelling customers’ names.
Back in my first semester at Georgetown, I was convinced a liberal arts degree would deliver this unpleasant future. So, I snuggled into a 300-person lecture, convinced one semester of macroeconomics would turn me into some kind of Jordan Belfort.
After the few months I spent in that lecture hall, however, I did not emerge a wolf of Wall Street. I was not even a puppy. In fact, I did not want to be anywhere near Wall Street or hear the words “supply” and “demand” again. The only market I cared about opened in Red Square at noon on Wednesdays.
Being “employable” simply was not worth my misery. I wrapped my head around the idea of being a barista. I wondered how hard it would be to compete with the Ivy League English majors for the more prestigious coffee shop positions. I would probably end up at some second-tier cafe.
After dropping my economics major, I was worried at first. All the English classes were fun and I learned plenty, but in the back of my mind, I thought about the Tyler who was on his way to an economics degree — the Tyler who would not have to worry about finding a job.
As graduation approaches, I can confidently state that I turned out fine, and so did my other English major friends. If you love what you do — and you are good at it — you will find success. Look in any major and you will find plenty of kids that love their classes. A lot of economics majors love graphs. A lot of physics majors love gravity.
The only kids who are truly miserable are in the business school.
Tyler Welsh is a senior in the College. This is the second installment in the Senior Compass Series.