selecting a major: to get a job or pursue a career

<p>A good number of these threads consider selecting a major as path to a job. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. However, there's another way to think about the decision of selecting a major and that is in pursuit of a professional career. Obviously, you need to be employed to be able to claim to be a professional. Thus, you need a job either way you look at it. However, selecting a major as a first step in the pursuit of a career involves multiple objectives, including but not limited to maximizing the probability of post-college employment.</p>

<p>If I am selecting a major to get a job, then it can be viewed as a single-objective decision problem (i.e., maximize probability of employment). In that case, I will look at the job market (basically the equivalent of the classified section of the newsapaper) and select a major in an academic program where there are a lot of jobs. Fine, that makes sense. In fact, you should expect that many others will behave the same way because they have access to the same information and have the same objective. This shift will reduce future probability of employment. Also, the job market today is not necessarily the job market of tomorrow. No major is a guarantee to a job.</p>

<p>In contrast, I could select a major in pursuit of a career. This is a multiple-objective decision problem. Maximizing probability of employement is certainly one objective; other objectives are personal and will differ, but could include maximizing creative challenge, maximizing the impact of my work, achieving an income sufficient for my desired quality of life. In turn, these will depend on matching my interests to my capabilities and beginning to understand how my career will relate to other aspects of my life. In multiple objective problems there are tradeoffs, and the decision maker (you) need to decide how much to weight the various objectives - what are the relative importance of each objective.</p>

<p>The threads on this list seem to focus almost exclusively on selecting a major to get a job. I think that is a disservice to the students who are faced with the decision. </p>

<p>Those who truly have the interest and talent for science should consider that career choice in light of their many goals in life, and not rule it out simply because of the gloom and doom that you tend read on these threads.</p>

<p>My goal in life is to be able to support my family and spend as much time with them as I can, which is why I went from Chemistry to my current major, Economics. Although I loved science in grade school, right now I have to take Gen Chem as a grad. requirement, it gives me a headache. It's making me hate science. Moles, sig figs, compounds, the damn metric system. All irrelevant information. I'm planning on going into Commercial banking, and reading Michio Kaku on the side, that should satisfy my love of science.</p>

<p>I have degrees in biology and statistics. While I was in graduate school, the job market was hot in biostatistics and particulary for jobs in pharmaceutical industry. I could have gone that route. However, my intestests leaned toward understanding changes in the environment and helping to manage those changes. The career I choose to pursue, I felt, had greater opportunities for creative challenges and for my work to have an impact - these aspects were important to me. Although I could see a path to employment and a sufficient income in my career choice, there were other options with higher chances of employment and larger potential income. </p>

<p>Career choice is a big fork in the road - a big, multi-faceted, multi-objective fork in the road.</p>

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