Growing up, people often ask, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ My response as a small child was to pick a job that I knew about: a teacher. The teaching idea stayed with me through high school, when in my senior year, I finally accepted that teaching in an elementary school was not the best choice for me. (I had spent the past 5-7 years preparing for being an education major/teaching career, so this idea was quite the revelation). When I arrived on my college campus, I was uncertain about my major and career options. I felt stuck, so I just picked a major that made sense to me because it was in the same field as my parents; as a result, I became a business major and spent the next few years struggling to make sense of my courses. I did okay academically, but I was not engaged or excited by my classes.
If I could turn back time and alter my path a bit, though still wind up where I am today, I would have had conversations about why I thought I wanted to teach. As a teenager, I really thought I wanted to work with kids, but as I got older, I found the idea of teaching the same subject too routine. I wish I knew questions to ask myself about what drew me to education as an industry, what made education interesting, why a helping profession, etc. Though I might not have known about college administration as a career option when 10, 16 or even 20, knowing that there were jobs that were similar to teaching, would have been ideal for me to understand. I also wish I understood how a major does not have to equal a career and that a major can prepare a person for numerous jobs. I briefly considered psychology and sociology, which likely would have been better fits for me, but I eliminated both based on incorrect perceptions from brief encounters and observations with each major.
A tip to my past self would be to ask more questions, jump to fewer conclusions, and learn how to consider new ideas beyond my four walls. I also wish that when I did ask questions, I didn’t stop with one or two people. The few times I tried to get help, the answers I received did not make sense to me, but I took them as the only option. In retrospect, if I had continued to inquire about some career paths while in college, I would have saved myself some serious angst with certain teachers and classes. Lastly, I would have allowed myself to take some more risks with my career path. There are some amazing short-term jobs, volunteer experiences, clubs, and adventures just waiting to be had. Participating in the unexpected could have introduced me to some people who saw the world a little differently than me and that might have opened my eyes to possibilities never before considered.
If you find yourself questioning your career options or wondering how to figure out the next step in searching for a job, I encourage you to pause, collect your thoughts, and come to the Center for Career Development for a starter conversation. The UConn Center for Career Development has a dedicated team of staff ready to work with students in one on one career coaching sessions that will guide the student to making quality decisions around choosing a major, a career, and the steps along the way to find that first job after you finish earning your degree(s).