What will I do when I grow up

My kids are going to think this entry is about them because I am going to use the college major that both of them have. It isn’t about my kids though, necessarily. It is about everyone who has a “non-marketable” college degree. You know the kind. Music. Art. Theatre. Even English or history, maybe? There are so many intelligent young folks who enter college when they are 17 or 18 that aren’t passionate about medicine or rocket science or whatever, and so they choose a liberal arts field. And then when they graduate from college, they may or may not have a job in their field or even out of their field. Life is tough and it is even harder when people constantly bug you about not having a “marketable” degree.

At my work yesterday, all of the old folks on my team were hanging around my neighbor’s cube and the subject came up of what one young 20-something said about her next step in life, i.e., “I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.” Every single person within earshot, including me and my boss(!), all of us somewhere around the age of *50*, echoed IN UNISON “I STILL don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.” Pete Sherman, who is one of Grandroobly’s best friends and despite his successful career as an engineer often said that he didn’t know what he wanted to do when he grew up.

There are many folks who know what they want to do in life from the moment that they are born or shortly thereafter. That’s fine. We need folks like that. Some of the rest of us have a more vague idea of what we want to do. We have various interests and talents and sometimes our talents are not easily quantifiable or applicable to any one particular field. That’s okay.

This is where my kids enter the picture (you guys, don’t take it personally). When you have a Theatre Arts major, some people think that you just have frou-frou skills, that you will spend the rest of your life being a starving waitress looking for your big break. I know that isn’t true. Theatre Arts involves literature and art and teaching and psychology and technology and probably a few other things I can’t think of right now. You can do anything you want with a theatre arts degree or any other liberal arts degree. You have flexible skills. Go for it!

8 Responses to “What will I do when I grow up

  1. Marquis Says:

    So please, correct me here: 1) You spend four years and the money that goes with that. 2) You graduate. 3) Then you decide to rely on your life skills. Is that your argument?

    I say that if you have just graduated from college spread your wings and leap! Maybe you’ll flop, but maybe you’ll fly. It is better to lose in life than to never to have lived at all. When you are young all the world is your stage. When you are older, there is always another seat in the balcony.

  2. Margaret Says:

    We get a similar reaction about Ashley and her geography major and her grad studies next year in social anthropology–but what is she going to DO with that? I don’t believe that any education is wasted, so I don’t care what she does, as long as she follows her passion. She’ll be happier in the long run.

  3. isa Says:

    The most important marketable skills I gained while acquiring a liberal arts degree include:

    1. Critical reasoning, analysis, and theory.
    2. A thorough understanding of cultural relativism (useful with both my next-door neighbors and people from thousands of miles away).
    3. Writing.

    With the possible exception of writing, I don’t think any of those fall in to a specific major.

  4. isa Says:

    P.S. Margaret, my new roommate is an anthropologist who works for a major web 2.0 company (everyone here would recognize the name) doing user experience work.

  5. kayak woman Says:

    I’m not sure I was totally clear in my post, in part because my thoughts about this subject are very complex and hard to put into words. I think it is a *fact* that a lot of people don’t know exactly what they want to do when they get to college or even at the point where they are forced to choose a major (or when they are 50). That doesn’t mean that they do not acquire any worthwhile skills in college or that financing a college education is money ill-spent. I think that the skills Isa lists in her comment are of the utmost importance and prepare people for any number of interesting careers. For instance, the one that I have, which didn’t even exist when I went to college.

    It is also an acknowledged fact that anthropologists are valued by web design companies who place a high value on user experience.

  6. Sam Says:

    Yea! For anthropologists! (We get so little credit for being “real” much of the time….)

  7. becky Says:

    I am not a theatre expert, but I know what my kids have put into their plays at school. There are many marketable skills that you learn putting on a production. Theatre gives you the ability to feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience, you have to manage the production to make sure everything is on time and within budget, you have to select a performance that will entertain an audience, and you have to have the discipline to rehearse over and over til you get it right. It takes a dedicated individual to make that happen – employers value these types of employees. I’m tired and my grammar is not the best – so be it.

  8. Tonya Says:

    *chinhands* *sigh*

    Still trying to figure it all out. (Actually, I’d really really like to be RETIRED). Because I’m TIRED of the rat race.