Fountains saidWas this not painfully obvious already? Personally, I think my generation needs to recover its industrious spirit and happen to the world instead of the world happening to them. For example: I knew someone who did an MA in Popular Culture and everyone laughed at her asking what on earth a pop culture degree was good for. She wrote her thesis on social media and brand mobilization and works (or worked, I've lost touch with her unfortunately) for twitter. She's an example of someone who did what she loved and turned it into a marketable job skill. I think more people need to think the way she did.
You have obliquely illustrated Actuarial science, the heart and soul of insurance and finance. In other words it becomes a matter of "what are the odds" I will succeed having obtained a given degree or what is the typical economic outcome of a given degree. This is the basis for Ridler's article.
It sounds to me like your friend knew how to maximize her outcome within her pier group. My hats is off to her.
It's more than that. Reading on in the article:
1. Even as the housing bubble seems to be dissipating, unemployment rates for recent architecture graduates have remained high (12.8%). Graduate degrees and work experience did not shield these graduates from a sector-specific shock; graduates with experience in the field have the same jobless rates as the economy overall (9.3%).
2. Unemployment is generally higher for non-technical majors, such as the arts (9.8%) or law and public policy (9.2%).
3. People who make technology are still better off than people who use technology. Unemployment rates for recent graduates in information systems, concentrated in clerical functions, is high (14.7%) compared with mathematics (5.9%) and computer science (8.7%).
4. Unemployment rates are relatively low for recent graduates in education (5.0%), engineering (7.0%), health and the sciences (4.8%) because they are tied to stable or growing industry sectors and occupations.
5. Graduates in psychology and social work also have relatively low rates (8.8%) because almost half of them work in healthcare or education sectors.
I personally believe it's crucial that you be passionate in what you do no matter what it is - and you're far more likely to make a good living sustainably at it. Fountains' friend for instance works at a firm that creates technology. I think there's a ton of opportunity for arts majors who are able to combine the arts with tech. It's a differentiator that can also add a tremendous amount of value.
That said... gender studies majors... are typically out of luck. It's also an exercise in futility to think that just because you have a degree you can get a decent job - that is far less the case today than it was even a decade or two ago.