34 Utterly Fascinating College-To-Career Paths, Like Mortuary Science To Marketing And Psychology To Cancer Research

A while back, I asked the BuzzFeed Community about their paths from what they studied in college to their present-day careers. As always, I’d like to thank everyone who shared their stories; in an era of exorbitant tuition prices and economic uncertainty, their candor and willingness to share a diverse range of experiences is an invaluable resource to all of us, no matter where we are in our educational and work journeys.

Here are 34 of those experiences.

Responses may have been edited for length and/or clarity. 


“I have a master’s degree in American Sign Language interpreting, and I wanted to work for a hospital or in the healthcare system. That was my dream, until I did my internship at one and the doctor told me, ‘Just go in there and tell the mom that her kid has leukemia; I have another patient to attend to,’ and then left. I, of course, did not do that, and I hunted down the doctor and made him come in there and tell her while I was present. Just the heartbroken face of the mother and the blatant uncaringness killed it for me. Now I am a vacation planner with an ASL degree; I sign for private events to make some money on the side.”

Lady Mothman


“Started off as an art major. Took some journalism classes just for kicks. Then, I switched my major to art history and international communications. Got out of college with zero idea of what to do. By pure chance, I landed a job on an international news channel and have been a journalist for the past 17 years, which has included working as a correspondent in conflict and war zones.”



“I majored in biochemistry and minored in chemistry. A lot of my peers went the medical route, but I didn’t want to be a doctor; I just wanted to work in a lab. For my first job out of college, I worked for my state health department (Lab Tech 2), and compensation was less than $30,000. After one and a half years, I worked for a dog food company (Food Safety and Quality Assurance tech), but the smell was awful, so I quit after a month. I now work for a personal care and cosmetics company (Research and Development technician) and my compensation is $50,000 with company paid insurance. I’m very happy here, and the office smells amazing every day.”


a lab


“I have a BA in English. After the usual ‘out of college…need a job…any job’ phase I ended up at a local public library. I liked it so much I went back for my master’s in library science. I’m currently a business librarian making around $54,000.”



“I did a BA in religion and a BS in social work. I went straight into grad school and got a master’s of divinity and a master’s of social work. I’m an ordained minister in a mainline Protestant denomination and am the Senior Pastor of a church. This has been my dream since I was a child, and I’m so thankful to be where I am now. I get to walk alongside people in their most joyful moments and in their darkest days. It’s hard work and can be draining, but it’s beautiful.”


people singing in church


“I majored in psychology at one of the best universities in the country. Now I’m managing a restaurant with hopes of moving up and owning one of my own. My current salary is $50,000. It’s not a terrible start, but I jumped around a lot with what I wanted to do, and sometimes I struggle with feeling like I should be doing something ‘bigger.’ I’m happy doing this, though, and I’ve got an amazing team!”

—Anonymous, 27, Minnesota


“Studied interior design in college. Currently do invoicing for a distribution company. Make $100,000 with bonuses.”

—Anonymous, 33, Canada


“I majored in theater and dance when I went to college out of high school. My parents insisted I go to college and that it was the only way to make it as an adult. I figured if I’m going to go, I might as well pursue a degree in something I enjoyed. I graduated with honors in 2007. Fast-forward: I ended up becoming a nurse. I graduated from that degree program in 2015. I make roughly $50,000 after taxes. In my opinion, it’s not enough, considering the abuse I’ve endured (including being physically threatened numerous times). I regret both degree choices. I wish I had majored in something else, or skipped college all together, considering some trades make double what a nurse does.”

—Anonymous, 37, Alaska

a medical worker filling out a form for a patient in a hospital bed


“I majored in psychology! After graduating, I applied for a data coordinator position at a well-known cancer center. The job required me to enter clinical data for experimental trials that aim to create novel treatments for cancer. My experience in psychological research was a strong foundation for understanding how research worked, which in turn helped me to learn my job and the process very quickly. My first position paid $25/hour. I got promoted two years after working there and am now making $35/hour!”

—Anonymous, 24, New York


“I majored in theater and work as a receptionist making $17/hour. I’ve been sending out applications for other jobs left and right, and with all of the rejection I’ve been getting, I feel like I should have just stuck with acting.”

—Anonymous, 35, North Carolina


“I have a BA in women’s literature with a minor in Middle Eastern studies and a master’s in war on terror military tactics. I planned on traveling through the Middle East writing about women, culture, and history through a feminist lens. But damn, I could not find someone to fund my research project or a job that allowed for my research to happen. I now own a successful lash and skin bar! I love my degree and continue to do my own research with the hope that one day it will pay the bills, but I do love my new career.”


a person getting a facial


“I studied archaeology for my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I couldn’t stomach being paid a low wage for on-call seasonal jobs in all kinds of weather with no benefits after putting in so much work for my degrees. In hindsight, I should have taken the rose-colored glasses off long before. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a distinguished professor of obscure European pottery at Oxford one day… You usually have to start as a field or lab tech in the US. And I had student loans to pay as well as, you know, feeding myself. I expanded on some of my tech-ier skills and switched to a technology field. Everyone on my team has a similar story. I am making $50,000 a year as the lowest-level government position with the wrong degrees and minimal experience. And this is in the low range for my position. Someone I know with a PhD and over 30 years of experience in archaeology recently accepted a ‘senior’ level position for $47,000.”

—Anonymous, 26, Utah


“Majored in history, minored in psychology. I’ve been a truck driver for over 30 years. I decided after graduation that I did not want to teach. I make way more as a truck driver than I would as a teacher. I have worked with other drivers who have degrees in mining engineering and finance.”


a person getting into a truck


“I majored in genetics and microbiology, but then I went to law school. I now work in patent litigation, and make around $500,000 when you account for annual base salary and bonuses. It’s a crazy process, because I just followed my interests and gut throughout my education, even when they seemed to go in all sorts of directions, but that just ended up opening me to a more niche market. I never would’ve guessed I’d be where I am now when I started college.”

—Anonymous, 32, New York


“Majored in mortuary science and now I work in email marketing in the nonprofit world. I make $61,000.”

—Anonymous, 29, Illinois


“I majored in microbiology and immunology with the full intent on going directly to medical school upon graduating. Plans changed, though, and I now work as a scientist creating self-amplifying mRNA vaccines. I make $80,000 a year with a 10% bonus, so approximately $88,000 a year.”

—Anonymous, 23, Massachusetts

a person getting a vaccine


“I majored in English literature, which as we all know is a very expensive book club. I’m 37 now, and I manage the billing department at a technology solutions company, for some reason. My education really only comes into play when the executives send me all of their outside correspondence to be copyedited before any of the intended recipients see it. And I moonlight as a stand-up comedian, so I guess that’s where I put all of those words and the concept of ‘perspective’ to use.”



“I majored in fashion with an interdisciplinary degree including some writing, with the goal being working for a magazine. I actually had a connection to intern somewhere I’d love to work, but when they found out I had just graduated, because of the rules about paying interns, they told me they only hired college students who they could pay in college credit. I worked three jobs my last two years of college, so I had absolutely no room or energy left for an internship. Since then, I have literally never even been given an interview in my field, and it’s been four years. I’ve sent hundreds of resumes at this point. Since it’s all digital, there’s no one to check in with. No one to call, no one to email, no way to prove yourself beyond a piece of paper.”

“I work as a server now, and while it’s not my ultimate goal, I do like my job a lot and make more money than I ever have in my life. I bring in anywhere from $600 to $1,200 a week, and the perks are amazing. Free food, free drinks, take time off whenever I want, and I can afford my bills. I don’t think I could even afford to start at the bottom in fashion with the state of the world; that’s reserved for people who are lucky enough for their parents to pay their rent while they work for bare minimum.”

—Anonymous, 26, New York

a designer's studio


“Majored in nursing, currently working as a nurse in the emergency room. I make about $85,000 a year.”

—Anonymous, 28, Michigan


“I majored in pastoral studies at a Bible college. I’m now the IT manager at a manufacturing company, and I make a little over $100,000 a year.”

—Anonymous, 33, New York


“I majored in botany as an undergrad and biology as a graduate student. I am now a professor at a state university in biology and make around $60,000 a year, although it took me 12 years of college and seven years of post-graduate work to get me to where I am.”

—Anonymous, 46, Midwest

a professor smiling and teaching a class full of students


“I majored in theater (which people told me I shouldn’t do because it won’t make money, etc.), and now I work as a creative director for an experiential marketing agency, making over six figures.”

—Anonymous, 27, Chicago


“I was a double major in English and Italian literature, with a concentration in modern poetry. Now I am a human resource manager, plus I have a side business doing consulting. My degree was worth every penny, not because college was job training, but because it helped me become an educated person. Everyone should have that opportunity if they want it, not just rich people.”



“I majored in psychology and political science, and I am currently a graduate student employed by my university. I make roughly $25,000 a year.”

—Anonymous, 21, Minnesota


“I majored in computer science and have worked as a network engineer for the last 20-ish years. I earn in the mid-$100K range. I know I’m solidly Gen X, but feel like I have more of a millennial mindset when it comes to work. While my degree is focused on software development, I never went into that. I ultimately fell into the networking field, which suits my temperament much better. I worked at a computer store in college and did kids’ computer classes as a business after graduation. I graduated into a recession, and all the big city jobs wanted five years’ experience in everything. I decided to stay where I was until the economy got better. Once the economy improved I moved back to California and got a job at an internet service provider for $10/hr. Buying a sandwich at Subway was a treat, and I took $20 at a time out of the ATM. About a year later, I got a job doing IT support at a biotech and finally had some breathing room in my budget.”

“I got offered a networking position there about a year after that. I actually didn’t break the $100K mark until seven years ago. The best way to make more money is to move to a different company. At first you will work long hours and bust your ass for those ‘special’ projects, but you realize later that there’s always a special project around the corner.”

—Anonymous, 54, California

a person working at a computer


“I majored in print journalism, and I’m now a content and web developer for a financial company. I’m making almost $60,000 a year, which is about double what I was making as a reporter. But not going to lie, I really miss working as a journalist.”

—Anonymous, 34, West Virginia


“I majored in psychology. Now I work in human resources and make about $55,000 a year.”

—Anonymous, 23, Massachusetts

two women looking at a computer in an office and smiling


“I majored in marketing and started out working in the field, but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled helping large corporations make more money, so I switched and have been working as a recruiter at an agency for the last three and a half years. I make around $85K–$100K a year after commission.”

—Anonymous, 28, Florida


“I majored in English and Spanish, with a 6–12th grade teaching certification for both. Eighteen years later, I work part time as an after-school tutor for K–12 students, focusing on reading comprehension, grammar, and SAT/ACT/state test prep. I have no desire to ever return to classroom teaching, at least in the United States, because the system is so very messed up. With tutoring, I still get to use the skills I learned in college, without the nightmares of a classroom job. I also work for a franchised tutoring company with great support and an absolutely amazing, supportive boss. He cares about the students and the teachers: I couldn’t ask for a better boss!”

—Anonymous, 49, Florida


“I was a mass communications major, with an emphasis in TV production and design. I was lucky enough to get an internship with our local CBS morning news program straight out of college. Six months in, I realized, ‘I don’t want to do this! I don’t want to start every day knowing how many people died or got hurt every night.’ (I’m a very happy person, and it was making me clinically depressed.) So now I’m a part-time preschool teacher, and I love my job!”

—Anonymous, 37, Missouri

a teacher working with young children


“I majored in human services, and now I make $42,000 a year in quality control and food safety. It’s not what I saw for myself, but it pays the bills and I don’t hate it. There just isn’t enough money or space in the human services field.”

—Anonymous, 38, Virginia


“My degree is a piece of paper, but it’s techically a BS in psych I got in my 30s. I was working in research data management while I was getting it, but I kept getting told I needed a degree before they would give me the title (and the pay increase associated with it), even though my workload was heavier than some of the ‘real’ data managers. I went with psych because I wanted something interesting that wasn’t too specialized. I found the work I was doing benefited my classwork a lot more than school helped me with my job. When I finally got my degree, they gave me a promotion and a raise on the low end of the pay scale, after five years of doing the work. I was going to continue to work there (like a sucker), but I found a new job shortly after that paid me what I was worth (and didn’t have the drama), and I ran for the door.”

“Ten years later, I’m still a data manager, and mostly enjoy it. In another world though, I’d have a PhD in anthropology and would hopefully be using it.”



“I got my English creative writing degree in 1997. I had a part-time job that included managing a database. I am now a senior program manager for a tech company managing work for over 100 people and earning nearly $200K a year. It’s been weird!”

—Anonymous, 47, Texas


And finally: “I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in renewable energy policy, planning, and management, which is an interdisciplinary degree. I was naive when I went to college and knew I wanted to work in the environmental sector, but I thought a renewable energy degree would be more progressive. I tried for 10 years to get a job in the environmental field and failed, and only worked in positions such as HR or administrative work. BUT two months ago I was offered and accepted the position of an environmental scientist! I know I was chosen because of the lack of other candidates, but I don’t care; my dreams and hard work paid off after 10 years!”


If you’d like to share your own career path with our readers, you can comment your major, present occupation, and, if you feel comfortable, what you’re paid. Or, you can submit to this anonymous Google form. Thank you for sharing, and congrats to u/l45779c493 for nabbing that dream gig!

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