Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A little perspective

Apparently the Guardian has an advice column about work that included this little nugget of wisdom:

Q: "Will my philosophy degree work against me in business?"

A: "Being a philosophy graduate student makes you different and quirky; turn that into your unique selling point . . ."

I had it all backwards. I thought being weird made it harder to get a job..

-- Second Suitor

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

A philosophy degree by itself won't hurt your entry into business much (unless the field is specialized and requires deep knowledge of finance, auditing, etc.). Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com, and others have shown us that. (Of course, because I can only name 1-3 off the top of my head might mean that these guys are exceptions rather than the rule.)

But what may hurt you is being the kind of person who would major in philosophy, i.e., lacking in social skills. If this is you, then we have a problem, Houston.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

They also have another logical problem... the implication is that philosophy made the person quirky - but I think that only the quirky go into philosophy grad school...

Anonymous said...

I much more enjoyed the Chronicle forum on whether some guy should get a PhD from a British or otherwise European university (while living in Philadelphia).

My own favorite responses:

"The problem here, as Betterslac explained, is that you are combining two bad ideas. The first is getting a PhD in Philosophy."

"Have you noticed how a variety of movies/tv programs have taken to making fun of the philosophy PhDs working as cashiers at bookstores?"

and, of course,

"I can't imagine how, but it is probably possible to think of a worse idea."

Anonymous said...

http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2008/07/2008072401c.htm

Anonymous said...

A liberal arts degree in business can be a good thing – esp with anylitical thinking.

What is important to remember, is that within five yrs you’ll need to earn an MBA full or part-time.

What you need to be aware of is social skills, are your as social skills similar to the history or English major who played rugby or was on the swim team and was a member of a fraternity or sosoiry in college?

Philosophers have a bad knack for chatting about their fields with everyone; history, English and langauge majors don’t. Can you chat about anyhing else besides philosophy over lunch?

Your employeer won’t care what books you read in college – only that you can get the job done.

lucky in love said...

Being weird can help you get a job in a market where weirdness is a rarity. Where there's already a surplus, more weirdness will only hurt. So it's not much of an asset in philosophy.

Anonymous said...

People with a first degree in philosophy only tend to do very well in the business world: significantly better than other arts and humanities graduates. People with a PhD in it don't. But then, presumably you'd only do the PhD if you wanted to be an academic - so going into the business world makes you look like a failed academic: no wonder that's not attractive.

That's the risk you take doing a PhD. Most people won't get academic jobs, and the PhD won't help and will often actually hurt you in getting some other job.

Ben said...

You've added the word 'student' (after graduate). They're talking about someone with a B.A. in Philosophy anyway.

Anonymous said...

perhaps, analytical?

Anonymous said...

I would think that a degree in Philosophy would be quite useful. Compare the scores for Philosophy majors with those of students who major in marketing, management, etc. (i.e., business majors) and draw your own conclusions.

http://www2.gsu.edu/~phlkkk/foryou.html

cristian said...

anonymous, what do you mean by 'most phds won't get academic jobs'? of course they will, look at the statistics. Most of them do. And even if they don't a phd is not just a mean to get a job, but also a job itself (and actually quite rewarding). I hate the predominantly instrumental view of philosophy that some readers of this blog have. None of the great philosophers in history had become great with such a mediocre mentality. Do you think that Wittgenstein or Kant or Aristotle were worried about 'job prospects' or 'job markets'?

Anonymous said...

None of the players on my rugby team are English majors!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 9:07 that persistence (not always brilliance as a philosopher) pays off in the job market. Just expect it to take between 6-10 years, post-Ph.D. to get a job.

Suggestion for another thread: Should ABD or post-Ph.D. philosophers who are frustrated with the philosophy job market consider going to law school? I do not mean to become a self-styled philosopher of law (a Brian Leiter type), but in order to become a real, practicing lawyer. Once I met a disillusioned former philosophy professor who had become a lawyer and then a federal court judge. He seemed pretty satisfied with his alternative career track. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

It's really hard to become a judge. Probably harder than getting a philosophy professor job (a "good" one, anyway), although I don't know the numbers on this one. But in the meantime, you're making good money as a lawyer (though the hours are *much* worse than academia!). Just depends on whether you'd enjoy being a lawyer, I suppose. I think it could be rewarding.