Thursday, 28 February 2013

Sweet Contemplation: What the hell will I do with my philosophy degree?

            I graduated from university in May 2012 and I always thought I'd find an incredible full-time job immediately. I thought that my Bachelor of Arts would be a beacon to new employers and that I would instantly qualify for a whole new array of exciting, if entry level, positions. Sure, people asked me, "What are you going to do with that philosophy degree?" I smoothly justified my choice of major by explaining that one should not get hung up on the content that I studied, but understand that I have earned a degree in critical thinking and those skills can be applied to any content. People are often impressed with that answer, but it really is a non-answer. I have no idea what I'm going to do with my philosophy degree, besides keep it in the $20 frame in which it sits inside the storage closet at my mom's apartment.

            Google tells me that I am right to explain to naysayers that a philosophy degree is a great liberal arts degree in critical thinking. It also tells me I am in great company: Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Woody Allen all studied philosophy. Sure, these are pretty famous examples, but why shouldn't I aim for the stars?

            Perhaps a career in politics is in my future. Let's put aside the fact that so far I know too little about politics to become Prime Minister (my Canadian citizenship, naturally, making me ineligible to be POTUS). Of course, no one just becomes the PM. I'd have to have some semi-prestigious job, like lawyer or economist. This would mean more education for me, and I'm a little hesitant to go back to school. I've spent seven years in college and university and it always makes me think of the hilarious movie, Tommy Boy:

            Tommy (played by Chris Farley): You know a lot of people go to college for seven years.

            Richard (played by David Spade): I know, they're called doctors.

I love school and if it led to something great like being the leader of the country that might be worthwhile. But diplomatic is not an adjective anyone would use to describe me. I would be a terrible PM. No, scratch that. I wouldn't even get that far. You have to get elected to lower posts first and I can't imagine that happening. But Rob Ford was elected Mayor of Toronto, Ontario, so I suppose anything can happen. But this kind of crowd schmoozing isn't really my thing.

            I like to whip up a crowd, so Martin Luther King, Jr. is much better role model for me. I can't say I've ever given a speech anywhere near the level of his "I Have a Dream" speech, but I do speak pretty well and my friends could tell you that they are constantly surprised at the stuff that comes out of my mouth. I can captivate an audience, but more on the level of a comedienne than a social activist. I do have minors in criminology and psychology, but only because my university didn't offer a minor in comedy. But if we're talking in the abstract about someone who can move an audience I could be the risible man's MLK:

I have a dream and in it a person goes to work with no pants on and no one judges that person for the content of his or her nonexistent trousers, but for the content of his or her character, which is highly questionable. I mean, we all hate pants, but you've got to wear something. No one approaches the pant-less person wandering around the bus terminal- not for a date or a job offer. Just to slip on the handcuffs. I have another dream that involves handcuffs and no pants, but not the bus terminal. Those places are filthy.

I suppose it's a less moving speech than one on racial equality. Perhaps aiming for MLK-type speaking engagements is too lofty a goal.

            If we're talking funny and philosophical but a little less social activism, Woody Allen seems like a great career exemplar. Intellectual, hilarious, and a great filmmaker. Allen is quirky and awkward, and I am certainly both of those. He is an amazing writer and does stand-up. I could do that! I think many people who know me might question my ability to be a great filmmaker. Anyone who has ever seen my movie collection might question my taste in general. My two most recent movie viewings were Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and The Capture of Bigfoot. I think it's safe to say that my love for B-horror movies (and so many horror movies with ridiculously low scores on might colour any screenwriting I would attempt. So it's likely I would be a cheesy filmmaker rather than a great filmmaker. That's not really an issue for me, though. I own my love of cheesy horror films. Watch for a future blog with my cheesy horror film suggestions. This isn't a bad idea, but it is tough to break into the film business and I couldn't afford Allen's 30 years of psychoanalysis for screenwriting material.

            Of course, I could stick a little closer to my philosophical roots and be an actual philosopher. I mean, I enjoy a good philosophical discourse and I can write a mean philosophy paper. Maybe it's only the philosophers I know, but so many of them come off as douchebags. I'm a lot of things, but a douche isn't one of them. Yes, I read philosophy books for fun, but I also have an invaluable tool that so many philosophers lack: I can read a person and know immediately if they really want to hear about Kierkegaard's ideas on personal identity. More importantly, because I'm not a douchebag, I don't continue on, explaining Bataille's theory of expenditure, when people's eyes glaze over. Further, I'm no drunk. I enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage, but I still have three of the six vodka coolers my brother purchased for me in December. Great philosophers drink. They just do. But moderate drinking and not being a douche aren't what keep me from pursuing this. The desire to eat keeps me from becoming a full-time philosopher. Well, that and a doctorate. You've have to have the Ph.D. these days and I'm not quite ready to go back to school.

            So what the hell am I going to do with my philosophy degree? I probably should have spent the four years I was studying making a career plan. I just figured things would fall into place. But since companies aren't beating down my door right now, I'll probably do what a lot of new graduates do: take a job that isn't exactly what I studied for and create my own niche there. This actually sounds pretty exciting to me. I'm so ready for a new adventure and a new challenge. I think the fact that I was willing to gamble on a philosophy degree shows I am willing to take risks and try new things. The fact that I received a philosophy degree shows that I'm damn smart, have amazing critical thinking skills, and can probably support any argument. That'll get me somewhere great. 

© Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, written or visual, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.