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Dec 18, 2018 23:35:15

Doctor, lawyer, engineer, or bust

by @vickenstein | 323 words | 🐣 | 218💌

Victoria Maung

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Total posts: 218💌
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You know what seems to be more universal than love? It's this unspoken dogma that I like to call "doctor, lawyer, engineer, or bust." 

This may be familiar to some or foreign to others. But many parents disproportionately encourage their children to select one of these careers.

Why is this narrative so persistent? Certainly there are many answers to this problem. Maybe it's all practical--job and, thus, financial security, lack of physical labor, or social status and, correspondingly, universal respect. Or perhaps it's the opportunity for parents yearning for all of these to live vicariously through their children (sometimes to a fault).

Realistically, I do agree that those career paths make sense. So long as you perform well academically, those careers are enough in carefully controlled demand to guarantee those students a well-paying job. All you need is a well-crafted academic plan, and you're more likely to successfully become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, than a high-earning chief executive or manager, which are both subject to the whims of bureaucracy and other factors out of your control.

However, I'm entertaining the possibility that, deep down, the root of the problem is the tension between the diametrically opposed values of individualism and collectivism. When these parents interact with their children, perhaps it is with the assumption that their children's (and every individual's) primary responsibility is to the people around them, not to themselves. 

Maybe this dogma exists because it is commonly understood that these three professions provide value to the community, serving sick people, passing judgement on criminals and saving the innocent, or building homes. I imagine that those concepts are easier to picture than saying that you manage a non-profit organization.

But this collectivist thinking precludes particular demographics, such as Asian-Americans, from taking the risk to occupy leadership positions, acting, and more. Regardless, as socioeconomic conditions shift and information becomes more accessible, I hope parents realize that serving society is multi-faceted.

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    @vickenstein

    Sir Abe avatar Sir Abe | Dec 18, 2018 23:40:18
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    @vickenstein I do agree that Doctor is associated with providing value to the community, but I disagree that lawyers and engineers are seen such a way.

    For most people, I think lawyers are seen with contempt. There are the kind of hero lawyers in Grisham novels and whatnot, but the majority are seen as mere stormtroopers for corporations.

    Engineers are seen I think by the majority as neutral. I come from a non-urban background, so I speak more for this population, because unless you live in an urban area with things like metros, the work that engineers do is less palpable as a community good.

    Sir Abe avatar Sir Abe | Dec 18, 2018 23:40:17
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      @abrahamkim Thanks for reading and sharing your perspective! I can see how that's the case. I'm curious if anyone's done a comprehensive survey on public attitudes towards these professions.

      I'm also wondering if the contempt you speak of is a part of the growing education gap between rural and urban areas--between the people for which occupying these positions is less likely and for those whom the choice is default. Or maybe rural areas tend toward an individualistic self-determination whereas urban dwellers tend toward collectivist thinking/living. Now I'm rambling, but you brought up great questions for me.

      Victoria Maung avatar Victoria Maung | Dec 19, 2018 00:07:21
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      @vickenstein Interesting. I hadn't given the 'rural vs urban' thought such merit until I read your comment. I was totally just assuming that everyone around the world hold lawyers in contempt...

      But you're right. I do think that in the urban areas maybe people don't hold as much contempt because they see lawyers around and thus they aren't reduced to cardboard caricatures.

      Let me know if you find a study about public perception towards professions!

      Sir Abe avatar Sir Abe | Dec 19, 2018 23:55:56
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      @vickenstein Interesting. I hadn't given the 'rural vs urban' thought such merit until I read your comment. I was totally just assuming that everyone around the world hold lawyers in contempt...

      But you're right. I do think that in the urban areas maybe people don't hold as much contempt because they see lawyers around and thus they aren't reduced to cardboard caricatures.

      Let me know if you find a study about public perception towards professions!

      Sir Abe avatar Sir Abe | Dec 19, 2018 23:55:56
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