Can I ever be successful as a Philosophy student?
It’s always the unsaid words that say the most. The sympathetic nod when somebody asks you what you are studying and you say ‘Philosophy’. It feels like I spent my entire first year being told jokes which implied that I’ll never amount to anything, with underlying implications that my subject is graded purely on the level of ‘deep’ I can achieve in a conversation. I personally find it quite funny. My favourite joke was one my friend told me yesterday:
Friend: “I met up with a Philosophy graduate in Starbucks the other day” Me: “Oh yeah, how was it?” Friend: “Great. I told him I’ll have a venti mocha frappuccino with extra cream” (Yeah this one took me a while to understand).
With the overwhelming number of maths/economics/science students you meet at Warwick, it’s no surprise that something like “oh…” is the natural reaction to a subject that’s quite different from the norm. However, this doesn’t mean to say it’s useless. Recently, more employers are starting to value the transferable skills that Philosophy provides students with, including self-motivation (a lot of which is needed to focus on the task at hand without going off on a tangent), and the ability to identify, absorb and sift through complex information, which is particularly difficult when you come out of a 10am lecture only having understood the word ‘the’.
So if the worry of studying philosophy is that you won’t get anywhere with it, it is more than achievable. As long as you are enjoying the subject, it doesn’t matter what anybody says about it. My advice would be to just not listen to the people around you telling you that you’re studying a useless subject, and when thinking about aspirations, aim for a career that you want to do. Or, if like me you don’t really know what you want to do, aim to do big things in whatever. There are so many options that you probably haven’t even considered doing yet, or have already ruled out as a career because you think it will be unattainable for you. A lot of jobs nowadays don’t even require a specific degree. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be chosen to do a week of work experience with Channel 4, even though I have no experience with media whatsoever – apart from social media, which I’m not really sure counts. I had no idea why I applied other than it seemed cool, and it turned out to be extremely enjoyable and is now a career path I am definitely considering. It really made me realise that I could do anything I set my mind to (except I probably can’t be a cardiothoracic surgeon like on Grey’s Anatomy which is a shame).
A lot of the time, it’s your mentality stopping you from achieving greater things. You will have a job eventually, contrary to popular opinion. The only thing that can get in the way of that is you. Also, don’t be put off by people around you who seem to have known since birth what career they want to do, because everybody is on their own path and it’s completely fine to still not know what you want to be.