Undergraduate - general psychology. Learned good data analysis skills, and the usual undergrad Freud this and it's all your fault that
. That was in Europe. Managed to learn FORTRAN in the process.
For my MA degree I was interested in the cognitive processes involved in learning. So, I chose computational linguistics since that was getting hot back then. Mostly knowledge representation, grammars, early machine learning type stuff. Took a bunch of computer science classes since I needed those for my work. This being the mid 1980s that stuff was hot (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know...ng_Environment
). I lucked into a job using KEE to capture knowledge of factory foremen. Supposedly so that they could pass the knowledge to younger associates. In practice to move the whole plant offshore in the early mid 1990's.
I took an education leave to go for my PhD, changing direction once again to Decision Analysis (think the psych side of marketing and the nuts and bolts of user experience, ie how people assess what's going on and make choices when they interact with complex systems).
Came back to my company as user experience was getting hot (see the trend?) and landed a junior position at age 40 in our a user experience group. Taught myself the design tools we use so that I could collaborate better with the full time designers. Twelve years later I was promoted to team leader running the UX lab.
There's a few moral lessons here:
1. Keep learning. The stuff I did in the 80s is gone, and I'd be gone with it without learning.
2. Think where the future goes and roll with the punches. Don't try to follow the common path. Learn to identify trends.
3. Follow the industry. Present your work, be proactive and visible. Toot your own horn.
4. Play politics and be patient. My predecessor and former manager was one crazy lady, but I made peace with her and the corporate machine... And took her position when she retired.
5. Volunteer to do assignments that teach you something.
6. Be willing to start at the bottom if it gets you cool assignments.
I could write more but you get the idea. We will outsource the Supreme Court before they outsource me 😁😁
My wife followed the money and my path. She had her MS applied mathematics and worked in IT. She (and I) saw the industry move towards big data. Since she's very good in data analysis (we met in a graduate statistics course, FML) she took my lead and got into big data before most people knew what it was. She changes jobs every few years.
Regardless she's narrowly escaped outsourcing a couple times and was outsourced once...