I want to major in Philosophy but I’ve heard horror stories about job prospects. What are your peers who majored in philosophy doing after they’ve graduated?

A student asked me:

I want to major in Philosophy but I’ve heard horror stories about job prospects. What are your peers who majored in philosophy doing after they’ve graduated?

Most philosophy majors are working in the civil service, namely in the areas of policy and education. The philosophers I know have worked or are currently working in the Prime Minister’s Office, Customs, ICA, NEA, CPF, MOE, MOH, NAC, and the Centre for Strategic Futures.

There are also philosophers working in the private sector. Among those whom I personally know… There’s one who worked in OCBC immediately after graduation, no honours! There’s another is working in finance in Shanghai. Another works with a big German MNC as the regional head of HR. Another one became one of the senior HR persons in A*Star (that was years ago, I’m not sure what she’s doing now).

Several have gone on to work in big consultancy firms (with and without Honours). There’s one I know who’s working as a data analyst for Alibaba, another as a data analyst for the People’s Association, another one working in marketing for an Icelandic record company, and yet another one working in the gaming industry. I recently met one who’s a software developer. Some are working as managers in various university departments (NUS and beyond). Some have gone on to become entrepreneurs. Fun fact: ThaiExpress was founded by a philosopher!

Probably the 3 most famous philosophers are the ones that have gone into film-making. “Army Daze” was a film created by NUS philo alumnus, Michael Chiang. The award winning film, “Ilo Ilo” was produced by another NUS philo alumnus, Lai Weijie. And recently, another award winning film, “A Land Imagined” was written and directed by yet another philo alumnus and my batch mate, Yeo Siew Hua. This is the movie he kept dreaming of as an undergrad. So it’s pretty amazing that he finally realised his dream.

I think many of these horror stories are coming from ignorant people who lack the imagination of what a versatile major like Philosophy can do.

All the philo majors I know are doing pretty ok in life. And as you can see, some are living really exciting lives. If anything, this is testimony of the fact that a major in philosophy prepares you to do whatever it is you want to do in the future.

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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