If I could do it all over - Page 2

CAREERS AND EDUCATION: Bay Area professors sound off on changing majors

"Not just because my parents or society said it was the thing to do." Professor Melinda Stone would do some things differently.



If I were starting my career all over again, I would still get a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in international relations. I would also get a master's degree in Middle East studies, followed by a Ph.D. in journalism. The only thing I would change is making up my mind a little faster. I was undeclared during my freshman year, with no clue what I wanted to study. I met a bunch of cool kids who were working at the college newspaper and as I began hanging out in the newsroom, suddenly it all made sense. I was naturally nosy, I love writing, and get a huge kick out of talking to strangers and telling stories. Journalism was the perfect career for me. I always had a fascination with global politics so I looked forward to attending every IR class. I'm glad I didn't get a master's in journalism, because I don't think that would have advanced my career at all. But the Middle East studies degree gave me an in-depth understanding of the region's history, societies, economies and political systems. It was an excuse to read a lot about subjects I was passionately interested in, and being required to read and write papers kept me in line and gave me the discipline I needed. I got the Ph.D. because I wanted to teach at the university level, and I enjoyed learning to do research. 

I tell my students all the time that it is really important to study what you love, but I know it isn't easy to figure out what that is, and whether they can actually make a decent living out of it. I often begin advising sessions by asking my student "what's your dream job?" and if they give me a specific answer, it makes it much easier to help them pick the right classes that they are paying a lot of money for. I knew I wouldn't necessarily get rich as a journalist, but I knew it would be fun and rewarding. My parents are both medical doctors and wanted me to be a physician as well. I have no regrets whatsoever, because I know I would have made a great doctor, and definitely made more money than I do now, but I would have been miserable. A college degree is increasingly expensive, and it is crucial that a lot of thought and consideration goes into choosing a field of study that is a good investment. A good degree of study should train you to acquire actual skills that you can use to market yourself in today's competitive job market.