My own little bombshell…

    Well, after nearly three months of activly thinking
about it, I’ve decided that I don’t want to become an economist. I’ve
had nagging doubts ever since I started, and they intensified over the
course of the second half of the semester. I still think that economics
is interesting, but I really can’t imagine myself doing economics for a
living. Can you imagine waking up and knowing that you were supposed to
figure out the effect on the supply curve of a 5 dollar tariff on
running shoes given infinite time horizons? Or how about wrestling with
sampling errors while trying to do a study on tax credits for minority
    Pure research might be a bit more interesting, but
I’m not convinced that a degree from George Mason will get me into the
teaching situation I’d need to do real research. There are too many
people waving around degrees from U. of Chicago, Harvard, MIT,
Stanford, etc… Mason is really gearing us up for research, but I see
little evidence of grads getting into decent teaching positions, the
best one I saw was at SUNY Cortland…
    The final straw for me was when I asked myself why I
had picked economics. It’s true that I think it’s interesting, but I
think lots of things are interesting. No, the thing that got me was the
prospect of making a decent amount of money with a PhD in economics.
There’s nothing wrong with making lots of money, but I have a problem
with living in a place I don’t particularly like (the DC area) and
doing something for a living that I find tedious or pedantic just to
have a decent paycheck. In other words, by using standard off the cuff
economics I realized that it wasn’t worth it.
    I’m not all that broken up about it really. It’s
true that I’ve spent the last three years getting ready for this and
have spent a decent amount of my own money but that is the classic
example of a “sunk cost”, it has no bearing on what I think is best for
me now… Besides, I have learned quite a bit in the meantime even if I
haven’t mastered anything. It’s always a good thing to gain more
knowledge and anyway, how else was I supposed to know if I wanted to do
this or not?
    So what now? Grad school is still definately in my
plans, just in something else… As I mentioned earlier, I don’t like
this place much and it is (in my experience) true that you end up
getting a job very close to where you went to school. That means that
I’m going to go somewhere else. My current thinking is that this place
has been a little too easy for me. My job (that I hate) is willing to
give me practically any hours I want and Rick (God bless him) has not
only put up with me but has never charged me any rent. Those are two
pretty strong lures to stay in this area, but I’ve had enough of
northern VA/DC metro area. There are many places I’ve felt comfortable
in, and this isn’t one of them. All of this may make me sound like a
spoiled, selfish brat, but I look at it this way… If there is one
advantage of being 33 (soon to be 34) and being single and having no
morgage or kids, it’s having some freedom. Since the
girlfriend/house/kids thing shows no sign of improving, I’m going to
take advantage of my situation and live somewhere and study something
that I enjoy:-)
    Speaking of studying, what is it that I’m going to
do? I’ll probably end up in something really, really impractical like
religious or cultural studies. Right now I have my eye on an eastern
religions program at Naropa University in Boulder. I get a thrill when
I think about studying texts in Sanskrit or Tibetan. yeah I know, I’m a
big geek…:-) My goal is to be out of here by January of next year,
maybe sooner than that depending on how things go… Boy, I can’t wait
for the next phone call from my mother, it should be lots of fun…


2 replies on “My own little bombshell…”

Are the hours of an economist really that long? Does an economist work 40 hour weeks, or do they mostly consult? Do you see where I’m going with this?

But, learning about something that excites you can’t be a bad thing. As long as you’re not starving, how bad of a decision can it be? Like you said, you’re only responsible for yourself, you might as well take advantage of the situation.

Economsts typically have pretty standard schedules unless there’s a deadline approaching. But so do accountents, actuaries, and all the other office type jobs out there. Maybe I haven’t grown up or something, but it depresses me to aspire to a job like that. I might end up there anyway and I’ll be OK with that as long as I give this other stuff a shot.


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