What do you want to be when you grow up? Ask any 10 year old that question, and they’ll give you an answer immediately. A fireman, a teacher, a princess. Ask me the same question, and I’ll smile and tell you I have no idea. But I’m a senior in college, I’m looking for jobs, I’m interviewing and deciding my future plans; shouldn’t I have this all figured out by now? The answer is no. For some reason, we’re made to believe that we’re supposed to know exactly what we want to do when we’re 18. A recent article from boston.com summarized an ACT study that said most high school seniors are not ready to pick their majors. So how do you decide what you want to do for the rest of your life?
When I first came to Villanova, I wanted to be a teacher. Now, I’m a senior Computer Engineer. I’ve switched majors three times, and I would probably switch again if there was still time. I went from undecided to Math to Computer Science, and finally settled with Computer Engineering. I love each of those subjects, but in every one I was bored. I wanted something more. Computer Engineering satisfied me for a few years, but the boredom set in with that too.
It was last March. I had a big project due at midnight, and I had been working on it for ten hours. I still hadn’t finished, it was 11pm, and I was borderline having a mental breakdown. The next day I talked to a few of my classmates about it. “Yeah, that was hard,” they said, “It took me three hours.” Three hours?? I had spent 11 and had handed in something incomplete. That’s when it hit me: I did not want to be programming for a living. It was too hard and too overwhelming for me. But what else could I do with my degree?
I decided on becoming a Technical Analyst – a “translator” between the business side of a company and the technical side. I wouldn’t have to program, but I would still be able to incorporate my engineering knowledge. I got an internship at a financial company as a Technical Analyst, and for a month I was excited and happy. I thought I had found the perfect job. Then one day, after all of the excitement of starting my internship had worn off, I was walking home and I suddenly realized that this was not what I wanted to do. I was bored again. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt useless and unneeded. If I had that job full time, I probably would’ve gone insane. Strike two for Katrina. Or should we say strike five? I was bored with math, I was bored with computer science, I was bored and overwhelmed with programming, and now I was bored with being a Technical Analyst. What options did I have left?
Luckily, we have an amazing Career Center at Villanova. I scheduled a meeting with a Career Counselor the first week back at school, and I took the Strong Interest Inventory – usually taken by freshman and sophomores to help them figure out their major. The results came back, and – surprise, surprise – all the jobs related to Computer Engineering were at the bottom of my list. What was in the top ten? High school teacher, middle school teacher, elementary school teacher, special education teacher… A teacher?! But I had said no to education my freshman year, when I decided instead to become a math major! I figured I should probably reconsider the idea.
The Career Counselor I went over my results with helped me a lot. He gave me some great advice – do research, consider any job that looks even mildly interesting to me, and apply, apply, apply. Apply to anything I thought I might like. Going through the application and interview process would help me narrow down my options. I would only be passionate about some, and I’d be able to eliminate all the others.
Thanks to the Career Center and its many resources, I’ve finally figured out a career plan: work for a few years, then go back to graduate school and get a Psychology degree. With my track record though, this plan will probably change. But I’m not worried, because I know I will eventually find the job I love. It’s better to be constantly searching than settling for something that I know isn’t the best.
So what do you do if you don’t know what to do? Relax! Don’t panic. You can go to the Career Center, talk to a Career Counselor, and maybe take the Strong Interest Inventory. Keep an open mind. It’s ok if your major changes, and it’s ok if you end up with a major you don’t love. It took me a while to realize that, but thanks to the Career Center, I am confident that one day, sooner rather than later, I will be where I want to be.