As a 22-year-old college student on the verge of graduating, I dread few questions in this world more than, “What’s your major?”
Now, this isn’t because I’ve had to answer that question so many times before. It’s because of the reactions I get when I do answer. Having to tell your parents’ friends, the majority of whom are businesspeople with steady office jobs at large corporations with outstanding health benefits, that you’re a journalism major with a minor in film and media studies often results in them reacting as though you just told them you plan to be homeless for the rest of your life.
After I tell them what I’m studying they’ll sometimes try to put on a good face and act as if they might be a tad impressed or find my choice of major interesting in a good way. But then comes the inevitable question, “So what do you plan on doing with that?”
Call me crazy, but what this translates to in my mind sounds a little something like, “How the hell do you make a living out of something like that? Why are you wasting your time? Will you even be able to find a job with that kind of degree?” I should specify that I don’t always get this type of condescension thrown my way when asked what I plan to do with the rest of my life, but it’s definitely more often than not.
After taking a few moments to remember that I should probably try to not sound like an idiot because it’s pretty clear they’re already halfway to that assumption, I explain to them what some of my goals are and what I would like to do in my career. I talk about my aspirations of becoming a television or movie critic and how I would like to be involved in the entertainment industry in some way. Sometimes they’ll seem more understanding than they were before I explained my aspirations, but other times they’ll just nod and say things like “Oh, okay,” or, “That sounds nice.”
I get it. I understand the concerns about what kinds of jobs there are available in today’s economy. I understand that careers in the arts aren’t usually high-paying or stable, but with the current state of the economy and unemployment rates, it’s difficult to say that any one job is more stable than the other. After dedicating four years of my life working towards a degree that I want to apply to my future career, I am fully aware of what I’m getting myself into.