Column by Katherine Speller

Katherine Speller

There’s been a lot of buzz about college majors and jobs and all these scary real world things lately. Lists are being printed left and right about the most useful, lucrative or promising jobs. I’ve seen journalism make it to different spots on various lists and I can’t lie and say it isn’t striking.

It’s always discouraging to see something you love go through the ringer, especially if it’s something you anticipate to be your life’s work. You think your parents, teachers, uncles and  friends with more specialized fields were right. Maybe you made a mistake. It’ll knock the wind right out of you.

I started off in college as a philosophy student. As you’d expect, the track is not one without ridicule. I couldn’t count the times someone asked me if I was planning to open a philosophy store or pedal my philosophical wares door to door.* I’d joke back, of course (I maintain you can’t study something like philosophy without a sense of humor), but I can’t say I didn’t feel a bit bitter when someone openly and aggressively belittled something that I loved and worked hard studying.

Because of that, I feel like it needs to be said: there is merit in what you do.

The more I work inside these orange Oracle office walls and the more I write and interview and edit, the more in love I fall with this lifestyle. I chose to become a journalist because, after so many long nights working in this office until I see orange, I couldn’t imagine not doing this. And, for me, whether this bit of excitement and satisfaction with my work proves to be financially forgiving or not, I think it’s enough.

It seems unfairly hokey to say that your happiness trumps the very real struggles of bills, loans and taxes, but it’s one of those sayings that is only clichéd and overused because there’s a bit of truth to it. I happen to believe that what’s written on the very expensive piece of paper we’re all working for is exponentially less important than the skills and talents of the person who paid for it. In some ways, your expensive piece of paper means a lot — it represents so much of your hard work at school — but in others, it’s creating this false idea that those words define you.

*Brief Interpolation: I feel like I have to stick up for my former-brethren in the Philosophy Department. What can you do with a philosophy degree? Plenty. Because a B.A. is not (necessarily) job training, a person with a philosophy degree is, more often than not, a well-read, well-spoken individual who can write and reason eloquently, solve problems and make deals. A Philosophy Department (as can an English, journalism, history or any other of the supposedly “softer” studies) can churn out a reasonable and versatile member of the work force. Your degree doesn’t determine whether you are worthy or unworthy. Only you can do that.