Growing up, my parents always told me this: “We don’t care what you decide you want to be, but you have to go to college. If you want to herd sheep, well, then you will be a college educated shepherd.”
(My standard response was that I wanted to be a ninja. To this day, I still think it would be a fun profession.)
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life when I went to college. I liked my literature classes in high school, and I loved music, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a music teacher. An English teacher didn’t sound so bad though. So I entered college as an English major, planning on entering the education program my second year.
One semester in the education program told me that while I might still want to be a teacher, I did not want to go through the education program offered to me. I was, for the most part, enjoying my English classes, so I decided to continue there. I changed direction a bit and picked up a supplementary major in a computer field, intending to go to a consulting firm like Arthur Anderson.
Well, we all know what happened there.
So I was coming up on graduation. I looked at what I liked to do. I loved my literature classes. I loved to read and analyze and write. And I liked history and government. A light bulb appeared above my head, and I decided to go to law school. So that I wasn’t just jumping into graduate school without any idea of what I was doing, I took a year and worked in a law firm. I learned that while I did not so much enjoy toxic tort litigation, I liked the law. So off to law school it was.
I sometimes wonder what I was thinking, majoring in English. I did what everyone said – I majored in what I loved. Our running joke used to be “If you study engineering, you become an Engineer. If you study architecture, you become an architect. What are you if you study English? Unemployed.” Things worked out for me though. I enjoyed what I learned in school, and I enjoy what I do now. My fellow English majors ended up in all sorts of professions: education, theater, government, journalism, and many others.
Sure, with the exception of my supplemental major, I really graduated with no marketable skills. I could read, analyze, and write, but I feel those skills are grossly undervalued by business. But I had followed my passion, and even though my career has taken a total left turn from where I thought I was going when I was 18 and entering college, I have no regrets. I still think that majoring in what you love is a valuable recommendation. You just need to also think about what you will do with your education when you finish, and maybe that means picking up a second major (I have a number of friends who were business and anthropology double majors, for example), or maybe that means graduate school. But you shouldn’t abandon what you love. You should work to turn that into what you will do with your life after graduation.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.