If I could do it all over - Page 2

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

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


DINA IBRAHIM, SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

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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.