Discovering what degree/career fits
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 09:08
The majority of us start being asked what we want to be when we grow up from a very young age. This question seems to be the easiest way for adults to prompt a conversation with a child that lasts longer than our split-second attention spans.
As children, our answers are typically “teacher,” “princess,” “firefighter,” “red Power Ranger,” or whatever character we are pretending to be at that moment.
As we go through school, these answers continuously change. We start to realize that those Power Ranger job applications are fairly difficult to come by, so now we apply common sense to the equation.
During our senior year of high school the adults start asking again, but this time our answers are more prepared. We have realistic career goals in mind, and not only that but, at 17 and 18 years old we have mapped out an entire four-year plan to achieve those goals. Problem solved, right?
It would seem so, until that 18-year-old business major, who has only ever worked at Sonic and has it all figured out, sits down in his freshman philosophy class and realizes that the only thing he really had figured out was that he did not want to work at Sonic for the rest of his life.
His four-year plan never accounted for him changing his mind or the fact that he might not enjoy working in the business world.
For so many students, this is the breaking point. They are scared of getting themselves stuck with a future they do not want. So what to do now?
Well here, my friends, is the beauty of college: You don’t have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life right out of the starting gate, and if you do, you are in the lucky minority.
The purpose of a general college education is to give you the tools to make that decision. And it is okay to go in undecided or to change your major; most of us don’t even feel like real college students until, at least, our third change of majors.
That decision you made in high school seemed very monumental and very final because it was the culmination of everything you knew about yourself at that time, but college is a chance to take the shades off and Technicolor your world.
Rather than making a plan to get through college, let college itself be the plan. Take that photography class that has absolutely nothing to do with your degree in microeconomics. Don’t get discouraged if that change of major in your sophomore year sets you back a little bit. Fewer and fewer college students these days are making it out in the initial four years after high school, and some that do find themselves going back for another degree later.
Outside of school, work experience is your biggest ally in deciding what you want to do. You know you do not want to work fast food forever, so take next summer and intern somewhere – anywhere.
Accounting firms, law offices, courthouses, newspapers are almost all looking for some college kid to staple papers and make copies during the summer, even in tiny towns in Arkansas.
And although you might not enjoy sitting at a desk filing papers or doing other typical intern work, keep your eyes open to what everyone else in the office is doing because, while you are building your resume, you might just stumble into a career that fits.