Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Would you like fries with it?

"Maddow started her career with more interest in changing policy than in changing the media. After attending Stanford, she studied at Oxford, where as a Rhodes scholar...<snip>

In 1999, Maddow was supporting herself with odd jobs (she met her partner Susan Mikula after the artist hired Maddow to do yard work)..."

Reminded me of an old joke...

Science major asks, "why does it work?"
Engineering major asks, "how does it work?"
Business major asks, "how much will it cost?"
Humanities major asks, "would you like fries with it?"



BadTux said...

Ah yes, but she doesn't have fries with that anymore. Now she's famous and I bet paid every bit as much as you and I.

For many years engineering has been one of the least lucrative areas that an American could major in. If you wanted to make money, get a MBA from Harvard and become a Wall Street broker, or a law degree from Yale and become a Wall Street lawyer. Less than 50% of U.S. graduates of engineering schools ever actually get a job in engineering, and the engineering job market is characterized by alternating booms and busts. I still remember the first bust I rode out as a new college grad, where I spent three years teaching math and computer science in high school rather than designing and implementing really cool software because there just wasn't a market for new college grad engineers anywhere (it was the Bush I recession, in case you're wondering)... and even then I had to back into the field by going to work for one of the school district's computer vendors. Valuable experience (leadership of a technical team is literally child's play compared to managing two dozen hormonal teenagers who would rather be anywhere but in a mathematics classroom, and the skill I developed in breaking down complex procedures into simple elementary tasks for solution by students is the exact same skill that I use to direct members of my technical team), but hardly a career path that is promising to the typical college entrant looking for a major to declare.

Let us face facts. Engineering simply isn't a lucrative job for most of those who major in it, leaving the field for misfits, foreigners who are not culturally attuned enough to America to succeed at non-engineering jobs, and the occasional brilliant person who can't do anything other than create really cool technical sh*t. We may look down our noses at the liberal arts type, but when you look at your CEO or most any of the big-money people in your company, most likely his degree says "BA" on it, not "BS" (not talking about Microsoft specifically, talking about corporate America in general)...

Sergey Solyanik said...


What you're saying is unfortunately true, and it does not bode well for US in general. This was not always the case - in 1960s being an engineer or a scientist WAS sexy. The culture went downhill since, and right now we have 30% of population that literally celebrate anti-intellectualism.

By comparison, Chinese president is an engineer.



BadTux said...

I think 30% is an underestimate, Sergey. Look at the last two Presidential elections :-(.