Frequently Asked Question: “Why Are You A Math Major?”

In a recent job interview, after scanning through my writing samples, resume, and cover letter, my interviewer turned to me and said, “You’re such a good writer! But you’re a Math Major? Why Math?” Already used to being asked this question under different circumstances – usually asked with a combination of horror and grave concern – I gave her what I like to call my “Spark Notes response” to that seemingly age-old question. After conversing for a little while longer, she leans back in her chair, arms folded, with a look of amazed disbelief on her face, she tells me, “No offense, but you don’t fit in with the rest of the Math majors. You fit in more with my people.” Translation: “You’re way too creative to be studying numbers all day long.” Incredibly flattered, and stifling an “oh please” chuckle, I shared with her more insight as to why I chose Math as my major field of study, and how I exactly intend to use my degree in my career.

Believe me when I say that I’ve turned many heads upon mentioning that I’m a Math major who wants to work in the entertainment industry. You, the reader, either 1. have wondered the exact same thing as you’ve scoured my blog or 2. are asking that question as you are reading this right now. Usually, this is how the conversation pans out:

Person: “What’s your major?”
Me: “I’m a math major.”
Person (Once they’ve wiped the look of utter disbelief from their face): “Oh okay, so you want to teach?”
Me: “No, I actually want to go into the entertainment industry.”
Person: “LOLWHAT.”

And then I go on explaining exactly what I intend to do in entertainment and also exactly why I have chosen such a, for lack of better term, unique path towards that pipe dream. So if I have yet to explain myself to you, hold on tight, because you’re finally about to get some answers.

When I was in the process of switching majors from engineering (yeah, I know), I had two (very) different options in mind, one of which being Communications. Communications appeared on my radar because as I looked back at what I was involved with in high school, it seemed the best fit – I participated in things like Yearbook and was also one of the founding members of my alma mater’s online publication. I also considered the fact that I was heavily into being creative (as I still am), thirsty for reaching a wide audience (as I still am), and also that I felt like I was at my best when I was speaking in front of a group of people. At the time, though, these things seemed more like hobbies than things I would have ever considered turning into a career. I was in the mindset where I wanted to keep my hobbies as hobbies, and that if I were to ever make creativity part of my job, I wouldn’t enjoy those activities anymore. Thus, I defaulted to my second passion, Math.

I became a Math major with the intention of teaching. I planned on teaching high school before eventually transitioning to college level Math. Since I was a child, I have always wanted to teach, and even more so when my mom became a teacher when I was in elementary school. Despite my parents’ best efforts to introduce me to more viable options, I persisted, and they eventually threw their hands up and fostered that ambition, just as they’ve done over the past few years as I pinballed my way through different career options.

That ship of wanting to teach has long since sailed after many, many, (MANY) rude awakenings taking the form of twenty fifth and sixth graders, and two tried (and failed) attempts at a Real Analysis series in my major curriculum. From there, I played with the idea of becoming an actuary after finding myself cotton to my Statistics classes. But once I found out about the incredibly tedious process one must go through to even dip their toes into the actuarial profession, I put that idea in the backseat, looking back at it through my rearview mirror every so often.

It was around this time that I became a little more serious about updating my blog, and promoting myself through social media. It was also around this time that I became a little more inclined to reading BuzzFeed and Op-Ed articles, and becoming more present on YouTube. From there, I realized my passion for all things entertainment – film, television, and online media – and fully intended on pursuing those interests within the entertainment industry.

And so yields the question, “Then why are you still a Math major?” To say that I’ve loved Math my entire life would be an injustice to the real reason why I’m still pursuing a degree in it. I love Math because it’s a universal language. When you go to different countries, the language barriers may keep you from communicating with the locals, but if you were to stand in front of a white board with a simple addition problem with anyone from that country, you both would have the same understanding that one plus one does, indeed, equal two. Talking to a friend of mine (who just so happens to hail from another country) about the SAT’s we had to take in high school, she told me that out of the three sections, her Math subscore was the highest out of the three. Famous Mathematicians from all over the world have come together to solve and prove intricate theorems, despite their differing nationalities. I’m sure that if there does exist some alien life form somewhere else in the galaxy, the one thing that would connect our species with theirs would be our same understanding of Math. Is your mind blown yet? JUST YOU WAIT.

I also appreciate that in Math, there is always an answer, and even though there may be only one answer to a problem, there are a handful of ways to approach that problem to arrive at the solution, and you can choose how creative you want to be with your method of solution. Funny enough, the way I solve Math problems and prove statements in my classes is similar to the way I write blog posts. In any of those cases, I first find myself standing on one end of the spectrum, with a problem in front of me, a solution in the distance, and a blank slate in front of me to pencil, erase, sketch, et cetera, my way to the solution. When I’m proving a statement, I have the end result in front of me, and a handful of facts that I need to use to arrive at a conclusion. When I write, I have an idea in mind with a few key points that I have to use to arrive at an overall message that I want to convey. In all cases, I take what I have, and proceed appropriately until I have arrived at a product that I am satisfied with. I bet you didn’t think writing and Math could be connected in such an ornate way, did you?

By becoming a Math major, I have learned these things, as well as perfected my problem solving and logical skills, established a strong and persistent work ethic, and developed a keen eye for detail. These are all things that I feel like can be applied to just about anything in life – I just so happened to choose the entertainment industry as the path for me to utilize these things.

I hope I have aptly explained myself to anyone who has been raising an eyebrow to my chosen career path and major field of study. Maybe someday you will remember this blog post when I have established myself as a well-renowned television or film executive/writer/producer/creator/whatever. (Just kidding). (Not really).

Have a great rest of your week, everyone!

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