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The job market is rough for people our age. I don’t think anyone is disputing that. That said, if you’re on this site, you probably went to college and at least have enough cash for a computer, Internet connection, and shitty apartment. The big, nagging question for everyone when school ends is: what am I doing with my life? For me, that was answered with seven months in finance, four months as a contract microbiologist, and now a full benefits gig with a firm in Gaithersburg. I ping ponged from job to job as if two champion Chinese table tennis players were using my résumé as a ball for a practice game.
That said, I’ve been stupidly lucky. In general, your major is a good predictor of what job you’ll have after graduation–they just aren’t always good jobs. Here are some of the more common paths.
Economics: You’re probably actually working in your field, but the downside is that you’re an economist. Economists are about as interesting as saltine crackers.
Physics: You’re probably doing bitch work in someone’s lab because you’re a grad student. You’ll spend 30 percent of your time keeping your professor’s experimental quantum blue box, AI, from escaping to create Skynet.
Chemistry: You’ll also be in grad school, but you’ll be moonlighting as a meth dealer so you can afford to live somewhere that isn’t a meth house. Just remember: meth, not even once.
Biology: You’re either slaving away in medical school or slaving away in the biotech industry. If you’re in biotech, you’re overworked and underpaid. This potentially requires fighting off hordes of the undead or mutants if you work for the wrong biotech company.
Journalism: You’re either the lead coffee engineer at a big paper or the lead columnist at a small one. The small ones have less career potential than a reboot of Battlefield: Earth. If you’re lucky, you become a comedy writer for a series of Internet comedy websites.
History: You’ll spend your days recounting Soviet policy missteps from behind the counter at Starbucks. The lucky few will double in archaeology and become Indiana Jones. You could also go the law route, putting you in law school for the next few years. Sleep will be very, very optional.
Engineering: You’re blowing up shit, even if you’re a civil engineer or a computer engineer. I’m convinced 99 percent of undergraduate engineering is just explosives training disguised as math.
English: You’re working at the library and spending your free time “writing” in public places. Sadly, less than 1 percent go on to be hot librarians.
Psychology: You’re working with crazy people or maladjusted teenagers at a high school. Or, you might feel as if you’re turning into a crazy person or reverting back into a maladjusted teenager after a frustrating job search and an even more stressful work environment.
Business: You’re becoming an asshole in a power suit or skirt who works 80 hours a week for an “unlimited earning potential” position. Alternatively, sales at a store in the mall. Really a toss up depending on the quality of your program. You still can’t get a reservation at Dorsia.
Accounting: You’ll take a position with Initech. They’ve got “middle management” written all over them.
Foreign Languages: You just want to leave America to see the world by backpacking through Europe. You’ll eventually run out of money in a seedy European city, meet someone nice, and get dual citizenship. Or, you know, never use the language again because it was just there to pad the GPA and make the fifth year acceptable.
Animal Science: You’re probably a dog walker or a pet babysitter. You also may be crazy cat ladies and gentlemen in your spare time.
Art Or Music: You’re serving at a restaurant. After a few years, there are the coveted promotions to bartender, then to the angsty person at the piano playing Billy Joel covers.
Political Science: You’re working on someone’s campaign for free in hopes that he or she will give you a low-level staffer position in his or her administration. You could also be sleeping with Frank Underwood, which is probably the best career prospect on this list.
Education: You’re either a teacher’s assistant or a hot, irrationally young high school teacher who will inevitably end up married to one of your students.
Theater: You’re homeless–it’s performance art.
Computer Science: You’re either a code monkey for a software developer or a startup billionaire because of royalties on an app that facilitates sexting. There are only two options.
Communications: You’re married with a kid. You were just in college for an MRS degree, unless your school moved public relations out of the journalism department.
Letters And Sciences: You dropped out to work at a McDonald’s, but you’re about $40,000 less in debt.
Any Major At A Military School: You’re inevitably doing something cool and dangerous in the name of defending America, like flying helicopters and shooting missiles at bad guys.