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How do I decide what to do with my degree?

I am a fourth-year economics major and I am about to graduate in the Spring. My question is, how does one begin to figure out exactly what they want to do with their degree? I know I enjoy economics but there seems to be a million different things you can do with it. I just don't know where to start.

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Udit’s Answer

I have an undergrad and a grad degree in economics. You could go two different directions with this...1. prepare for GRE/ Gmat and get into a graduate program in either MA Econ, MSc Econ, MBA or MSc Data Science. 2. look for entry level data analyst or data science roles. Option 1 is preferred to option 2 within econ unless you are graduating from top 10 programs, have an internship with Chase, etc. Getting a grad degree will allow you to quickly move to better roles. Just an undergrad in econ will limit how fast and how far you could take this.
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Matt’s Answer

My advice is this, ask yourself what problem(s) you want to solve in the world, then find a way to go solve that.

Whether you're using your degree for it or not, this is the way I found to bring purpose to what I do. For most of us, it's finding that purpose that provides us with a sense of value in what we're doing. The money can be great, but if you're unhappy doing something, you're not going to last there. Also, consider this, right out of college is your best time to find the things that make you happy doing.

As Nafisa said, college to career is not a straight line. Sometimes you have to branch out and explore various opportunities. If you can find a job that solves the problem you wanted to solve, in a location you'd like to live, and will pay you a decent livable wage, then you've essentially won the lottery!
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L’s Answer

Congrats on your upcoming graduation! I would start if not already actively using your career counselors or career centers at school to view jobs and companies that are hiring and looking for students with your skillsets/major. From there you will start to see the different options and can line up something for after you graduate. I do think it is much more advantageous to land a position while you are in the university and going through the university career center than after you graduate, so take advantage of the career center at your college.
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Jen’s Answer

Congrats on getting close to graduation. An econ degree is applicable to a lot of different careers. I would work with your university career center to see if there are shadowing opportunities you can explore. People often enjoy speaking about their careers so you might be able to find people on Linkedin with econ degrees who'd be willing to share their career journeys with you as well.
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Jacob’s Answer

It's completely normal to feel uncertain about your career path, especially with so many options available. Here's some advice to help you navigate this important decision:

1. Self-Exploration: Take the time to explore your interests and passions. Reflect on what activities make you genuinely happy and fulfilled. This will provide valuable insights into potential career paths that align with your passions.

2. Research: Investigate various career options and industries. Talk to professionals in fields that interest you, attend career fairs, and utilize online resources to gain a better understanding of what each path entails.

3. Skill Assessment: Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Identify skills and talents you excel in and those you'd like to develop. This can help you narrow down career choices that leverage your strengths.

4. Academic Guidance: Seek advice from school counselors, teachers, and mentors. They can offer valuable perspectives and help you match your interests with educational programs.

5. Internships and Volunteering: Participating in internships or volunteering opportunities can provide hands-on experience and help you decide if a particular career is the right fit for you.

6. Set Goals: Establish both short-term and long-term goals. Setting clear objectives can give you a sense of direction and motivation as you work towards your chosen career.

7. Flexibility: Remember that career paths can evolve. You don't have to have it all figured out right away. Be open to change and adapt as you gain more knowledge and experience.

8. Networking: Build a network of professionals and peers in your areas of interest. Networking can provide valuable insights, mentorship, and potential job opportunities down the road.

9. Take Your Time: Don't rush the decision-making process. It's okay to explore different interests and options during your college years. Many people change careers multiple times in their lives.

10. Trust Yourself: Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. Trust your instincts, and choose a path that aligns with your values, interests, and long-term goals.

Remember that deciding on a career path is a journey, and it's okay to be unsure at this stage. Embrace the process of self-discovery, and you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions about your future.
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Nafisa’s Answer

You're not alone! I also did not know what I wanted to do with my math degree right away. I worked as a math instructor for a while, took some time off to study for the GRE (to get into graduate school), and ended up going back to school for my master's degree before getting a job as a data analyst. Colleges definitely need to do a better job bridging the gap between course material and applying the material in the real world. Luckily, most jobs will give you all the training you need for the job. I currently work with a software engineer who was a history major in college!

That's good that you recognize you enjoy economics. The best way to figure out what to do with it is just jump in and try it out! Get a job related to economics and see what you enjoy or don't enjoy about it. While there are many choices available for jobs, I would recommend narrowing it down to 2-3 job titles. That will make the job search less overwhelming. Use the career center at your school, or LinkedIn, or other search engines to search for companies hiring for those job titles. Once you get your foot in the door you can switch to another related path within the company or switch to another job entirely.

If your school has a career center, that is a good place to start. See if they have recommendations on job titles to pursue in the econ field.

College to a career is not a straight line. Take time to explore different career options and you will find the right fit for you!
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Xiaojie Johan’s Answer

Hello Lauren,

I went to graduate school for Economics and am currently working in consulting. I think there are many things you can do with an economics, you can either enter a Master's program in Economics and take math classes to prepare for an Economics PhD. You can also work for a consulting firm, a finance firm, a technology firm, etc. Strong programming skills and quant skills are necessary for careers in economics-related fields.

Hopefully this helps!

Best regards,

Johan
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