I have lived in Chicago for almost 13 years. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather live (ok, maybe San Francisco/Bay area, but who can afford that- I have no desire to live with 5 other people in a 2bed house). Before moving here I lived for a little while in Ireland, with frequent trips to France to research for my master's thesis. The degree was mostly just the easiest way to get a visa. Long (dumb) story.
I'm from Milwaukee and went to Madison for undergrad, where I majored in Film and in French- which was, needless to say, super marketable career-wise. I worked at menial administrative assistant jobs for a while, a lot of people I know who graduated with a liberal arts degree in the 90s did. That or advertising, but I was fairly rabidly anti-capitalist at 20.
I then worked for a wine importer/distributor for a couple years, which was easily one of the funnest jobs ever, but it wasn't too surprising when the rolling layoffs started. I imagine it's difficult to sustain a business when the boss/owner is pretty much getting crocked (or stoned) by 3:30 every day and encouraging the employees to "learn about the product".
Like I said, it was fun!
So when that had run its course, I decided to go to law school. I have always been involved in human rights activism (well, since I was about 13) and thought that would be a good way to effect positive change and make a living doing it. I worked in the Asylum/Immigration clinic at my law school for a year, and represented a couple clients who had been detained and tortured in their home countries and who, with our assistance, were granted asylum. These were definitely the most important and most gratifying actions/experiences of my life thus far. Alas, my timing is impeccable, and even though I'm very good at that work, when I was sworn in in 2008, no one was hiring- I hear that some kind of banker shenanigans put the economy in the shitter.
I did my time at a big law firm for a while and was thoroughy miserable, so I'm now finally going to use my superpowers (an analytical but empathetic mind) for good and for my own happiness.