Philosophy Alumni Perspectives
A question we are often asked is "What can a BA in Philosophy do for me?" Our alumni have gone on to careers in law, college teaching, business, elementary and secondary school teaching, publishing, and many other fields. While we list some of the many careers our students have pursued on our careers page, some of the best answers to this question come from our graduated Philosophy maajors themselves. A number of Hofstra Philosophy alumni recently responded to a survey, letting us know about their careers. They wrote about the ways in which majoring in Philosophy helped prepare them for those careers and for other aspects of their lives. We will let them speak for themselves:
A 2006 graduate teaching English in Japan and planning for graduate study in Japanese literature:
“The philosophy department has most definitely helped me achieve the goal of enriching my fundamental thinking about myself, the world, and my place in the world. This has been achieved mainly through the improvement in thinking skills I’ve acquired through being a philosophy major. With these improved thinking skills, I am able to put things into perspective with much greater ease, and most importantly, I am able to reflect on myself in a manner that has proven to be significantly and beneficially life-changing.”
A 2005 graduate now pursuing a PhD in Philosophy:
“The challenge of presenting complex concepts in a clear way has made me a much better writer. My philosophy courses required me to formulate arguments on paper and to do so in a persuasive and compelling manner. My ability to do this has improved dramatically in the few years I spent studying philosophy at Hofstra. My speaking skills have also improved because discussion was an important part of my philosophy courses.... I find that my philosophy courses have trained me to think well and clearly."
A 2004 graduate who is a PhD candidate in German Literature, teaching in Germany:
"Studying philosophy gives students a strong foundation not only in the history of ideas, but also in building a set of skills essential to a critical approach to life ... The professors at Hofstra always took a personal interest in their students... My education at Hofstra helped prepare me for graduate studies that focus on interdisciplinary research and for real-world interactions with other cultures.”
A 2004 graduate who is a practicing attorney:
“I can't begin to express how satisfied I am with my undergraduate major in philosophy. I am just so grateful to all of you for the course topics, class discussions, enthusiasm, and papers. The whole program was nothing but a positive experience and I often think of all of you and miss my philosophy days at Hofstra…. [M]any partners at law firms, successful lawyers, and my best law school professors majored in philosophy.”
A 2003 graduate working in event planning and pursuing a Masters Degree in Education:
“I could not imagine being at Hofstra and not thinking about the issues that being a Philosophy major forced me to tackle. I have gained a deeper understanding of the world around me ... My desire to continue my education, not just this fall but for the rest of my life, stems from the faculty and students I met taking philosophy classes at Hofstra. Their ambition and intelligence is infectious.”
A 2002 graduate who teaches special-education kindergarten in New York City:
“The experiences I had as a philosophy major have shaped the person I am today. I have never enjoyed anything else so much ... The issues we have discussed, and even a few new ones regarding ethics, are present each day I am at work.”
A 2001 graduate working in international business consulting in Dubai:
“I use my philosophical background in my consulting work today. I deal with managing people and change, which has deep connections with philosophical ideas about free will and the dynamics of change."
A 2000 graduate working in business and pursuing a Master's Degree in real estate:
“Philosophy really taught me to think methodically, rationally, and logically."
A 1999 graduate with a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, now a post-doctoral fellow:
“It wouldn’t have been possible [for me to earn my PhD] without your super supportive and awesomely stimulating department. Really. The quality of teaching and mentorship is the best I experienced before or since. Just a first-rate department, and first-rate memories, all around.”
A 1997 graduate with a PhD in philosophy, who is now an award-winning professor:
“I’m now trying to do precisely what I saw my teachers do so well when I was a student at Hofstra.”
A 1997 graduate with an MBA, working as an entrepreneur:
“This major has opened up many doors for me in the business world. I use my experiences and knowledge from this degree every day.”
A 1995 graduate working as an attorney:
“Studying and loving philosophy gave me deeper insight and analytical skills, opened up doors of thought, helped me organize and distill concepts and problems, and is a huge part of who I am .... Philosophy rules! And helped get me where I am today.”
A 1987 graduate who is a speech-language pathologist, and president of a business networking organization:
“I greatly enjoyed philosophy, and it was a fun major. Without a doubt, I would be able to apply it to whatever career path I chose.”
A 1985 graduate working for a software firm, who is an author and owns a bookstore:
“My philosophical studies have had a major impact on my life. My studies in logic ... greatly prepared me for the computer career I currently pursue .... While I have not pursued a career in philosophy directly, there is no part of my life that is unaffected by my earlier studies.”
A 1982 graduate who is a fellow at an Ivy League university and a prize-winning poet:
“I often think that philosophy and poetry are the perfect companions. The one begins where the other ends; they complete each other…. [T]he program had given me an amazingly strong foundation. I had been rigorously taught how to think rigorously. What more could any one ask from her university education?”
A 1973 graduate who is a professor of philosophy at an Ivy League university:
In response to the question “What was your favorite class?”: “Dr. Evelyn Shirk’s philosophy class. I knew within minutes of starting the class that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life."
A 1964 graduate with a PhD in Philosophy who teaches philosophy and computer science:
“The ability philosophy gives you to analyze ideas (without prejudice or clouded mind) facilitates improvements in all sorts of processes, and gives you insights the non-philosopher misses.”
A 1958 graduate who earned a PhD in Psychology, then practiced psychological counseling privately and in New York schools:
"My philosophy education encouraged me to probe below the surface of phenomena to attempt to understand the underlying roots and the context of what we experience in the world. This approach or orientation helps me to be a more effective psychotherapist."