What do you do for work? Is that that the field you graduated in? Do you like it?
-My Name Here
Dear My Name,
I'm a physics teacher. This is precisely what I set out to do (BS in physics, MA in education) and I've been living the dream for the last 7 years. Yesterday was literally the most satisfying day of work I have ever had in my life. In my first year at a new school, I experienced a tradition that I had absolutely no idea was coming. On the seniors' last day, they have teachers line the hallway as the seniors walk out of their last class ever. The walk takes over 30 minutes as the tradition is that the seniors will stop and talk to/hug/thank all of the teachers that made a difference for them. Some 30 kids stopped to thank me sincerely and it was the most gratifying experience of my entire career. As a teacher, it is hard to tell if I make any kind of a difference, and this was confirmation that what I'm trying to do is getting through to at least a few of my students. I absolutely love teaching and I hope that I can do it forever (which might not be possible; a rant for another day).
The Man with a Mustache
I graduated with a BS in biology. Afterwards, I was stressed and unemployed for several months because a BS in biology qualifies you for approximately 0 jobs, despite biology being a "STEM" field. I snatched the first job I got, which was ironically offered to me because of my "humanities" qualifications. They liked that I had not only been a Writing Fellow at BYU, but that I had been an Editor of a Student Publication. That is correct; I nabbed my first job and first shred of adult respectability from spending too much time worrying about the 100 Hour Board.
Unfortunately, my job there (as a copy editor) was both extremely dull and in a toxic environment. It wasn't so much that it was unrelated to my degree, it was just not a nice place for anyone to be working.
Luckily for me, I was/am married to a guy with actual marketable skills. He graduated with a BS in computer science. However, even for someone with a CS degree, the job search was tough without much formal experience and also because he was applying for positions away from where we lived. Employers were leery of his Utah address and the idea that this dude would have to relocate to work for them. After months (and about two months after I finally quit my job in frustration, cause I didn't have to cover his tuition anymore), he was offered a great job in Virginia. So, to give an extra answer to your question, my husband is working in the field he graduated in.
After we moved to Virginia I was once again woefully unemployed and unqualified for just about everything. I sold some art prints and helped someone write their memoir. (Those humanities skills again!) After several months of that, I began an unpaid internship with the Smithsonian. For the first time since graduation, I was, well, not employed per se, but actually doing something I loved! I did lots of biology research on frogs. I collected the research experience and references I needed for grad school applications and generally had a blast.
Now I am still working at the Smithsonian, this time in a (very meagerly) paid logistics position where I'm essentially organizing all the behind the scenes stuff behind some major field work projects. It's kind of like planning a wedding, only the wedding is in the jungle, and the Peruvian customs agency is involved for some reason. So, this job is tangentially related to my degree, but I wouldn't necessarily need a biology degree to do the work.
In the fall, I start graduate school and I will be employed as a TA in the biology department, which I think we can all agree is related to my degree. Since we have to move for me to attend grad school my husband has another CS job lined up that's closer to my new campus. (The job search was insanely easy for him this time. Not sure if it's his experience, our closer location, the economy, or some other factor! But he had offers coming out his ears.)
Oh, and I'm learning how to program because I don't ever want to be in the position of "0 employable skills" again.
I work as an art therapist and associate marriage and family therapist (pre-licensed). I work with children, adolescents, adults, and families to improve mental health and find joy and healing through creativity.
This is somewhat related to my BA in visual arts and clearly related to my MA in clinical art therapy.
I couldn't be happier with it. It's amazing this career exists and I'm lucky that I get to do it.
Best of luck
Waldorf (and Sauron)
I work as a manager of a risk team at a tech company. I majored in linguistics and went off to get a PhD in that field, but left my program after my master's degree. I stumbled into tech by chance, and I never thought I would 1. work as a corporate manager, 2. work in the software field, or 3. like it, but here we are!
I work as an adjunct generally teaching English courses (most often American Literature), and I do some freelance writing and editing (academic books and essays on popular culture). I graduated with a PhD in American Studies, so those both line up pretty well.
I work as an intern in the housing division of a county planning department. It's exactly what I'm in school for; while it's not the most exciting job ever, it's a stable and comfortable position in my ideal location.
What does that mean, in practical terms? Here's a few things that I've done
- Ever heard of the Community Development Block Grant? It's a federal program that gives funding to states, which then give funding to cities and counties, to be used for housing and community development programs to benefit low-income people and populations. In practice, that funding goes to everything from housing programs to jobs programs to putting ADA-compliant curb cuts at intersections. At the county, we're basically the middlemen - we select which local applicants receive funding, and then we monitor their activities to make sure they're following all the grant's rules. I've also worked with federal housing (HOME) and homelessness (ESG) grants that work basically the same way.
- A few years ago, the county used state funding to run a first-time homebuyer program for low-income residents. Basically the county provided gap funding (around $50,000) in the form of a low-interest loan to qualified buyers who otherwise might have difficulty getting a loan. It was a success while it lasted, but funding dried up and the person in charge of the program moved on to employment elsewhere. By the time I took over, enough loan money had been paid back that the county was able to offer a few new loans, so I got to research the program requirements and coordinate with a local non-profit to help get three families into homes of their own. More than anything else I've done so far, that left me with the feeling that my work actually means something to somebody.
- Every once in a while, I'm allowed to venture out of my safe home in long-range planning into the wild jungles of current planning to handle permit applications, usually for a specific grant-funded project. This involves reading project plans to make sure that they meet all the requirements in the county's zoning code and design guidelines. It's extremely detail-oriented work and probably the most interesting part of my job.
There's a bit more to it, but that should give you a good idea of what my job is like. I'm graduating with my master's degree next month, so the internship is going to end too, but there's a decent chance that they will find a way to keep me around in one capacity or another. You'll have to check back in 2019 to find out for certain. Two days after writing this answer, I found out that I will in fact be kept on for at least one more year in a part-time contract position, with the option of applying for full-time employment whenever a position opens up. It’s just about the best outcome I could hope for. Life is good.
I graduated with a BA in English Language and I work as a library assistant. I adore my job and I plan to get my Master's within the next few years so I can be a librarian; probably in youth/teen services.
I do automation work part time from home for a law firm using a software called Smokeball. It's super flexible and pretty low key, which is exactly what I need since my primary job right now is to take care of Baby, Certainly. It's related to my law degree, but isn't a traditional thing to do with a law degree. I enjoy it.
I work for BYU parking.
Obviously not what I graduated in but I do enjoy it (I promise I'm not a terrible person). There are a lot of misconceptions about parking at BYU and it's really interesting being on the other side of things. I don't like being hated by most of campus, but some people do appreciate us. I also have really great coworkers and our full-time police officer supervisor is awesome. And I have so many stories. Sooooo many stories.
-None (remember how I said most people hate BYU parking? Yeah, I don't want to be doxxed by an angry student who parked in faculty parking and got a ticket)
Dear Uniquest of names,
Yes. Very yes. Like, more so than I could have ever anticipated.
Last year (side note: IT WAS JUST LAST YEAR??) I mentioned in Board Question #89463 that I had gotten a PhD (Immunology, specifically studying the human immune response against a tropical parasite) and that I would be starting a specific fellowship in the field of Medical Microbiology. Well, here I am, a full year into that fellowship and I feel like it's a million-percent cooler, bigger, harder, more stressful and [use your imagination to fill this in further] than I could have anticipated. The plan is to apply for jobs directing clinical (meaning diagnostic vs. research) laboratories that do microbiological tests. In exactly one year I'll be taking a career-defining Board exam (HEY THAT'S LIKE THE NAME OF THIS WEBSITE) that will put more letters after my name and say that I'm qualified to do the job that hopefully I will have lined up by then.
It's been made very clear to me that the reason I got this position, the one that will lead to the job I'll hopefully be doing forever, is because I had a degree in Medical Laboratory Science. So even though that degree, for the most part, lets people work as clinical technologists, performing high level diagnostic tests, it specifically let me qualify to do the training needed to be the director of a lab that does that.
And do I like it?
This last week I got to: answer a doctor's questions about syphillis, track down the surgeon who took out someone's appendix but didn't prescribe them antibiotics (even though they had 3 different bacteria growing in their blood), identify a tapeworm, and read a bunch of papers about drug-resistant herpes virus. So obviously, it's freaking amazing.
- Rating Pending (who also went to a talk about myiasis, or larvae infection, of humans but that was TWO weeks ago, so he didn't mention it in the above list)
Dear My Favorite User,
My job title is something like "ML/NLP Research Engineer." What does that mean? I work in the field of AI. What does that mean?? It's all very mysterious. But basically I write computer programs to analyze text and give some sort of insight about the text.
I graduated in linguistics, with a master's in linguistics. Linguistics all the way down. Is my work related to that? Yes and no. Yes because sometimes I get to think about morphology or syntactic structures or (just once) phonetics. No because a lot of techniques in cutting-edge ML and NLP are much more concerned with seeing how much can be learned from huge sources of data without doing much linguistic annotation beforehand.
I like some of it, but a lot of the enjoyment I get out of doing NLP is pushed out of the spotlight by the ridiculous Silicon Valley-esque company I work for. By Grabthar's Hammer, if I'm still working at this same place next year I'll -- well I'll -- I'll be real disappointed.
I'm a stay-at-home parent. My degree (linguistics) relates to parenting about as much as other degrees do, I suppose. I don't like it as much as I thought I would, but I do like it more than the office job I had before. I like having some flexibility to dabble in a variety of interests, and I do enjoy experiencing my kid's "firsts," experimenting with child development stuff, being a lot more social than I used to be, and getting some household stuff done so El-ahrairah and I can have more evening/weekend free time. Probably my least favorite part was the first three months, which I guess I would have had to deal with if I was on maternity leave as well. It's a lot more physical and emotional work than I expected, but it's getting better. I also sometimes tutor ASL on the side, and I like that a lot.
I teach high school English.
Technically, I just graduated with a BA in English, since by the time I realized I wanted to teach, it was too late (and my GPA was too messed up) to switch to a teaching major. But I started on a post-bac teaching certification almost immediately after I graduated, so it all feels like part of the same time period to me.
I mostly like it. My school is a great school, I love most of my coworkers and students, and the work feels meaningful and worthwhile. It may also be killing me. 170 students a year is rough, and I can't spend the kind of time and energy that planning great lessons and giving timely and helpful feedback for them all takes, without it coming from something else. Currently, it's coming out of my sleep and my social life, which has terrible effects on my mental and physical health. It could change; I participated in my state's recent teacher walkout, but I'm not optimistic that the concessions we got will fix (or even slightly improve) my student load. If I could work half time (which would still end up being about a 40-hour week) and get full pay and benefits, I'd stay forever, because the parts I love, I love with love unfeigned. But since I can't, I'll commit to next year at least, and re-evaluate once it's over.
I teach elementary school. I graduated in elementary education. Some days I like it, other days I hate it. Right now I just want it to be summer.
Dear your name there,
See Board Question #86456. And yes, I still like it.
I'm still teaching my days away. I'm about to finish up my 3rd year in 1st grade. I like it enough to stay for now, but I have realized that teaching long term is not what I want to do (at least not in 1st grade anyway.) I've been heavily debating about going back to school to get a degree in psychology but the idea of having to go back to school, study for hours on end, and write papers makes my brain want to melt so I'll stay with my #firstgradefriends for now.
I majored in music performance. It was great! I learned it wasn't the path for me after I had done almost all its required credits in the span of 1.5 years.
Then I got married and thought, "I'll be a stay at home mom soon so it'll be fine!" Yeah, nope--that's not in my future anymore. So I buckled down and took a few tech courses and tossed my resume around a tech-focused career fair at BYU my final semester. I had experience with technical support for laypeople before, so I was able to snag an enterprise level tech support job (read: "I don't work with grandmas, I work with your sys admin dad"). Most days I love it! Some days, I feel like I'm being slowly dipped in boiling oil. But hey--I think a lot of jobs are like that, and mine came with lots of fabulous peers and a lot of upper level techs who like to teach the youths about how to IT better. I've grown a lot here and am excited to stick around the tech industry for years to come (unless someone invents a super magnet that breaks ALL THE COMPUTERS and then I guess I will grow tomatoes for a living).
I got my two most recent degrees in Food Science, and I'm now doing customer/technical support for the world's largest producer of a certain food ingredient. That means that I travel a lot, often with very little advance notice, to visit customers that are having problems with our products or want to try something new. It's not the exact kind of job I thought I'd get, but it is in my field, and I do like it. The traveling is definitely tiring at times, and I probably complain about it more than I should, but I do enjoy seeing new places and being paid to do so.
I graduated from BYU with a Bachelor's in Psychology. I moved home with my parents, got a job working in the front office of a local t-shirt printing business owned by a family friend, and did absolutely jack-diddly with my actual degree (with respect to employment).
I am currently working towards a Masters in Computer Engineering, I am still working at that t-shirt printing company, and just finally moved out of my parents' house last week after 4+ years. I sincerely hope that my employment after graduating with my masters will be far away from both t-shirt printing and living at my parents' house, and a little closer to my field of study. A person can only look at awful t-shirt designs so many times before snapping.
I have a dual degree in German and Chemical Engineering - guess which one is more useful.
I'm an engineer in the natural gas industry. Do you use natural gas (for heating, cooking, power generation, etc.) and live in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, or the Upper Peninsula? If so, you're welcome.
I don't love it, but I don't hate it either. I nothing it. It's not a bad gig and continues to fund my golfing habit.
I sure hope this helps. Please don't hate me.
I still work for Goldman Sachs and I still act like the NSA there. It is not really related to my degree so I am currently studying to take the GRE and go get my masters in National Security.
The Soulful Ginger
I graduated with a medical degree and I am indeed working as a doctor. My bachelor's was in Nutritional Science and despite how important nutrition is to health, I rarely use most of the stuff I learned now. Most of my nutrition conversations go like this:
Me: "Do you know how to stick to a low sodium diet? It's really important for your heart failure."
Patient: "I don't know, is there much sodium in chicken nuggets?"
Me: "I'll have the dietitian come see you."
I have a BS and MS in medical laboratory science. In the past 10 years I've worked 6 1/2 as a generalist, 2 1/2 as a research and development specialist in the molecular pathology department, and currently I am a quality assurance coordinator. I really love the laboratory but wish there were more opportunities for growth and upward mobility.
Right now I work for a city in the Salt Lake Valley as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist. Basically what it means is that I make maps and keep track of the city's map data. Back when I was at BYU, I thought at various times that I would become a foreign service officer, an environmental scientist, and some sort of environmental lobbyist with a law degree, so yeah, it's been a big change. I took a GIS class my last semester at the Y and loved it, so when I was considering grad school I found an awesome GIS Masters program at Northeastern University that I could do 100% online. The program was amazing and now I actually like my job, which is a big change from past attempts.
At the moment, Madam Insomniac is applying for medical school and the plan is for me to essentially retire and stay home with the kids while she goes to school and later starts working. I honestly couldn't be more thrilled because I LOVE homemaking and I'm so excited for her to live out her dream. Hopefully next year at this time I'll be gearing up to be a stay-at-home dad.
It's a bit of a walk to my answers to these questions. Just about the same time I retired from the Board I got my bachelor's degree from BYU in Communications (public relations emphasis) and initially went to work in copywriting and marketing. I did that for two years and realized it really, really wasn't for me. Remembering how much I enjoyed being a writing fellow as an undergrad, I decided to go back to BYU* and get a master's degree in English (rhetoric track) to try my hand at teaching and to test out the academic life. As an MA student I got to teach first-year writing and some 300-level English courses and it was exactly what my little black heart had been looking for. Turns out teaching is the only job I've ever had where I actively prepare and try to do a good job instead of just looking busy and running out the clock.
Once I knew I wanted to continue teaching I started looking into media studies PhD programs. I figured if I'm gonna be teaching I may as well try and aim for teaching super happy mega fun courses in film and TV and the like. On my second round of applications I got a few fully-funded offers, and it'd take a long tangent to describe just what a relief that was. This fall I'll at long last be moving out of Utah and starting the Communications, Rhetoric, and Digital Media PhD program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. My program at NC State is a joint program run by their English and Communications departments with a primary research and teaching focus in media studies, which makes for a pretty remarkable culmination of my education and professional background thus far.
So what do I do for work? Since graduating again from BYU last December I've worked as a freelance writer and substitute high school teacher, but I consider myself a teacher and grad student. Is that the field I graduated in? Not really, but there are meaningful connections. Do I like it? Yes, I love teaching and I've really enjoyed the bits of media studies academia I've witnessed. So far I've published a paper on TV commercials and another on Breaking Bad. I helped organize and run an adaptation studies conference at BYU last year. Also last year I attended a pop culture conference in New Mexico where I picked up a delightful book on using The Simpsons in the classroom and sat in on the dedicated Harry Potter studies room several times. I wrote my thesis last fall on President Obama's appearances on Jimmy Fallon's show and Between Two Ferns.
I'm fully expecting this next step of PhD work and conference/publishing hustling to be much, much harder and more work than I've ever experienced, not to mention the extreme difficulty of finding a tenure-track position afterwards. Even with all that coming down the pike I feel so fortunate and fired up to pursue my interests to the insane levels I am. I mean, Netflix, Spotify, and MoviePass are tax write-offs now. Binge watching season after season of Key & Peele or Jane the Virgin is ~professional development~.
So. That's me.
*When I went back to BYU the English department told me I needed to take a few extra undergraduate courses because, unlike most all of the other English MA students, I wasn't coming directly from the English undergrad program. So my very first term back I took English 293: American Literature taught by none other than our very own Humble Master. It was Gimgimno who tipped me off to this possibility and I was so glad I did it, for obvious reasons which include the Maus reading assignment. Just a little bit of IRL Board stuff for y'all.