Thursday, July 7, 2011

Career paths

In a previous post, I said:

From where I'm sitting there are two ways to approach this [career choice]:
1. Here's what I want to do, how do I do it?
2. Here's what I want to study, what can I do with it?

I had a feeling this would come back to bite me. Thinking back to what I’ve done, this was/has/is not the way things have worked out for me. But let’s dwell on Megan McArdle instead:

Megan McArdle is the business and economics editor for The Atlantic. She has worked at three start-ups, a consulting firm, an investment bank, a disaster recovery firm at Ground Zero, and the Economist.

Megan McArdle was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and yes, she does enjoy her lattes, as well as the occasional extra dry skim milk cappuccino. Her checkered work history includes three start-ups, four years as a technology project manager for a boutique consulting firm, a summer as an associate at an investment bank, and a year spent as sort of an executive copy girl for one of the disaster recovery firms at Ground Zero . . . all before the age of 30.

While working at Ground Zero, she started Live from the WTC, a blog focused on economics, business, and cooking. She may or may not have been the first major economics blogger, depending on whether we are allowed to throw outlying variables such as Brad Delong out of the set. From there it was but a few steps down the slippery slope to freelance journalism. For the past four years she has worked in various capacities for The Economist, where she wrote about economics and oversaw the founding of Free Exchange, the magazine's economics blog. She has also maintained her own blog, Asymmetrical Information, which moved to the Atlantic Monthly, along with its owner, in August 2007.

Megan holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. After a lifetime as a New Yorker, she now resides in northwest Washington DC, where she is still trying to figure out what one does with an apartment larger than 400 square feet.

How typical is a straight and narrow career path, i.e. a pre-med major who goes on to medical school and stays on as a doctor until retirement? Or a high-school drop-out who goes to work as a carpenter and stays in construction for the rest of his life, either in a skilled trade or construction manager?

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