Concentrations/Careers

Concentrations/Careers

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition...Everything else is secondary."
-Steve Jobs

Students are often torn about choosing a concentration or a job. Values can collide with one another. Concerns like meeting family expectations, finding a lucrative or prestigious job, following one's passions and interests, and feeling you are making a valuable contribution to the world can fight with one another for your attention and time. In the Harvard Magazine article, Creating Space to Contemplate Success, Philip Parham ’09 notes that the amount of money people earn in finance and consulting "becomes very attractive" and makes it hard not to consider this type of job, especially when friends do.

Or maybe your experience is more like that of Mark Albion '73. In his Crimson article, Rising Star at HBS Opts out of Rat Race, Benjamin Grizzle reports that Mark "fell into the economics concentration more because of his father's expectation than his own interest." Over time he realized that "while my high-paying, high prestige job made me the envy of my neighbors, I could feel the life being sucked out of me." Mark eventually left his career behind and pursued his interests in socially conscious entrepreneurship.

What can I do to explore potential concentrations and careers?

  • Explore your career options. The Office of Career Services (OCS) offers a variety of programs, workshops, and resources which can help you identify possible career paths. You can also make an appointment to meet individually with a career adviser to discuss your skills, values, and interests. You can also come to the BSC to identify and discuss your basic values and how they may relate to your choice of direction.

  • Examine the values, expectations, and pressures that may influence your decision-making. Advice from family, faculty, and friends can be very helpful or it can be stifling. According to Megan Pincus Kajitani and Rebecca Bryant in their article, A Ph.D. and a Failure, the idea that "the epitome of success is a tenure-track job at a major research university" causes some graduate students to feel conflicted or constrained about pursuing other careers. Whether as an undergrad or graduate student, it is important to reflect on what you want to accomplish, what enlivens you, and what feels productive and worthwhile when choosing a career path. 

  • Take time out. In our busy lives it is often difficult to take the time to think about what it is we actually want to be doing, but often this is exactly what needs to happen.  Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation, by Harvard University's William Fitzsimmons, Marlyn McGrath Lewis, and Charles Ducey, describes how taking time off from school can be a savvy move.

References and Readings