Why you shouldn’t panic about your career in college

Did you ever have that “OH S***” moment right before high school graduation where you thought about the fact that you were about to have to choose your career path? The path that the remainder of your entire life would follow? A choice that would affect where you lived, how much money you made, and what experiences you would go through?

That’s a lot of pressure for a teenager! I knew generally, I wanted to work with people. I found that I really enjoyed my Senior year Psychology class in high school and on a whim, I decided that’s the direction I would point my life in. What solidified that even more, was when I went to my college freshman orientation, they encouraged you to begin choosing prerequisite classes based on what subject you thought you might declare your major in. I remember telling the advisors I’d sort of decided, but wasn’t totally sold on Psychology, but they told me they didn’t have any course sheets for undeclared majors (seriously, wtf?), so Psychology it was.

My first year of college came and went and I had taken Intro to Psychology, Intro to Sociology, and Intro to Anthropology (see the theme here?). I realized this wasn’t the direction I wanted to head into after all. I still wanted to work with people, but I wanted to do it in a different capacity. Also, I really didn’t feel like having to get a graduate degree to have a significant job in the field.

So I changed my major to Social Work. I figured in this way, I could still work with people and I would also be helping them as well! Sophomore year of college rolls around and I begin taking classes under my new major. Well. The joke was on me because I learned that I 100% did not have the mental stability and emotional control it would take to be a Social Worker. Like…I have mad respect for Social Workers. Those people work tirelessly at odd hours, dealing with heartbreaking situations, and then have to go home to their own families and leave their work at work or else it will consume them. Social Workers are a special kind of people and I simply came to realize I was not that kind of special. So. Thank you Social Workers everywhere!

So there I am, two years into college, having deja vu with a panic attack due to not knowing where my career and life were headed. At the start of my Junior year, I ended up dropping all but one class and working more so I could have a mental break and try to figure out what my next step was. This, of course, caused me to fall behind that perceived “you have to graduate in 4 years or you’ve failed” mentality. I knew I would have to take summer classes and perhaps stay one extra semester because of my decision. Of course in the end, it was all worth it and it was the timeline I was meant to take, but at 20 years old, I thought I would be falling behind all of my peers and missing out on opportunities because I needed an extra semester to graduate.

Jump to Spring of 2014. Second semester of my Junior year. I had a couple of friends who were in the Hospitality program at MSU Denver and absolutely loved it. They studied abroad in Prague, they had wine and beer classes, had awesome guest speakers…It was at this point I finally found what I wanted to study. An industry where I could still work with people. I declared my Hospitality, Tourism, and Events major and graduated in the Fall of 2015 with a BA.

Almost three years later and my career path is still evolving. I started off as an Event Coordinator, moved to a Social Media & Event Coordinator, started working with event sponsorships, outreach, and engagement, and am now the Manager of Outreach & Engagement at CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media working on alumni relations, some donor cultivation, and events, social media, and marketing. After all of my panicking, I ended up somewhere that is honestly pretty far removed from what ended up being my degree. But the theme here? I get to work with people. I knew that from the very beginning. If there is something you know you want to do or a skill you know you posses, keep it in mind. Let it drive you. Let it point you in the right direction. Take the time to learn about yourself, your likes and dislikes, what you’re good at, and what you’d rather not do.

I know this was a long post, but I wanted to share my experience through college and finding the right career path because my career path ended up finding me. And yours will find you too! As you evolve personally, you will also evolve professionally. Networks will start to build and opportunities will start to arise that you didn’t even know were options. So, whether you’re about to graduate high school or you’re in your sixth year of college, don’t panic. I learned life is too short to try and lay out any blueprints for it because you end up building your life in a way you couldn’t have planned for.

Thanks for reading friends!

xoxo,

-H

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