When I started my collegiate career three years ago, I began as a biomedical engineering major. I really had believed that I had wanted to do that when I started school. Engineers had great job security, good pay and the respect of many different majors on campus. However, in that fateful first semester of school, I dropped my original major and instead changed it to two new majors. In all honesty, there were two classes that made me really want to change my mind.
The first was chem lab. I don't want to talk about it. It was terrible and somehow my partner and I messed up every. Single. Lab.
Even though I passed the class, I still knew chemistry wasn't going to be the focus of what I did. The class that really made me want to drop was the intro class for engineering majors that basically shows them the outline for the rest of their lives. It showcased incredible projects done by students, what is happening outside of academia in the area and the future for what is to come. And I couldn't be more bored with it. This isn't the "ugh, this class is early and too long and I'm just tired" bored, this is the "I literally have NO interest in these topics at all" bored.
When I realized this, it was somewhat shocking. I had thought about changing majors before, but now it was an absolute certainty that I wanted to change my major.
After creating an entire PowerPoint in order to convince my parents that becoming a history major would not be a complete waste of their money, I made the switch to majoring in history and political science. I had always had an interest in politics, so I imagined that it would be a good double major.
Now, whenever I tell people I major in history and political science, the conversation goes two ways: "Oh, so I bet you know all about [insert current political event], what do you think about that?" or "Hah — so what, are you just going to be a teacher?" The answer to the first one is usually an eye roll because I live and breathe politics, and when I'm relaxing I would LOVE to have a minute to not discuss every political issue plaguing our country and find the solution for every single one. The answer to the second one is a resounding yes.
You might think that my major would only be useful at trivia night or to answer to obscure questions on "Jeopardy!", but when is the last time you read an 800 page history book and then used that information to analyze the parallel situations being created currently in life? Yeah, I didn't think so. I've debated with people on things that have to do with business from my background. I don't just study old dead dudes (although, yes, most of them are dead), I study political structures, the evolution of business, the evolution of culture in certain areas, the underlying reasons for why certain countries currently are acting the way they are, and to boot I've learned how to write outrageous amounts in a short period of time.
I'm not taking classes regarding the economic structure of businesses, but I've had to study the history of capitalism that highlights why we are in the position we are today. I've learned why the market has crashed multiple times before, and I've learned how that is being fixed, and I understand all of the terms used along with it. I also know not only the private sector side but the public sector as well.
"So if you're learning that stuff anyway, why don't you just study business?"
My dream is to work in archives and unearth truths that are present in the world that help better understand why the world operates the way it is. I want to be able to contain a worldview that encompasses the mysteries that many wonder about. That might seem "high and mighty" or like I think that I'm better than those who work in cubicles, but I don't think that. I think that I am not wired for a business 9-5 job. Some people are, and that's fantastic because it's what they want and love to do!
My job is probably going to have me take my work home with me and work long hours in various places, and that excites me. It can get lonely being a historian, I know that. As of right now, I am on a trip to Washington D.C. to do research in some of the archives here for my thesis, and I am all alone researching for the majority of the day.
One of the routes that I want to go through is earning a doctorate in modern Russian history, which sounds like a terrible idea to many people. I'll admit it, saying it to some people and receiving the look of pity is downright embarrassing sometimes. However, I get money to travel to places to learn more about the world. I can get money to learn a language. I can entertain my friends by performing my own kind of drunk history about random historical facts.
The job security for this kind of stuff is terrible, I know that, but my passion for this is what drives me despite the warnings that anyone gives me. It's what makes me happy. If I don't make it immediately in the world I want to join, then I have the skills necessary to get me a job in the "real world." If anyone reading this is thinking about switching majors to something with a less than stellar job market, make sure that you prepare yourself the best you can, and if you really do want it, then go for it.