Students are always asking me, “How did you get this job?” and “How can I do what you do?”
I’ve been reflecting on the path that led me to my current role, and a common theme emerged: I did exactly what I wanted every step of the way, no matter how it looked to other people.
Here’s what I did differently than everyone else and why you should follow your own path to success too.
I don’t have a communication / marketing degree. I went into college undecided and stayed that way for my first two years. Everyone told me it was a waste of money to start at a four-year university before choosing a major, and that I should take general courses at a community college first. I didn’t care.
Being an “undecided” major allowed me to take a variety of courses and get involved on campus while deciding what was best for me, After two years, I found my intro to psych course most interesting and chose to major in psychology. (PS – I also double majored in sociology and graduated on time.) Everyone asked me, “What will you do with that degree?” and told me “You’re not going to make any money.” I didn’t care.
In my senior year, I changed direction. I was involved on campus as an orientation ambassador, a tutor, and on the executive board of two honor societies. I loved working with college students and decided I wanted to do it for a living. When it came time for my required internship, I chose to complete my hours in the enrollment management department at SRU to gain some student affairs experience. I was the only person in my internship class who wasn’t in a clinical / behavioral health setting. No one understood what I was doing, and everyone asked, “How does this relate to psychology?” I didn’t care.
I was accepted into SRU’s student affairs in higher education program and transitioned from enrollment management intern to graduate assistant. I had social media, video production and website content responsibilities, but fell in love with managing social media for the university. My cohort members had assistantships in areas like residence life, career education and academic advising. I was the only person doing something different that’s on the “fringes” of student affairs. People said, “You’re not really in student affairs” and “You just tweet.” I didn’t care.
I was advised to diversify my experience (AKA get a residence life internship) so that I had a better chance of getting hired. I had an amazing summer internship in residence life at Colorado School of Mines and think I would have enjoyed a full-time job in residence life. A social media position in higher ed was still my number one choice.
In my second year of grad school, my cohort members and I were job searching and heavily stressed out. Everyone asked me “What kinds of jobs are you applying for?” and “Are you going to be able to find a job in social media?” I definitely cared, and started questioning every decision I’d made up to this point. My quarter-life crisis didn’t last long. In March of 2016 I applied for my current position at Point Park and was offered the job shortly after. I had my dream job lined up before graduating.
Students often see their major and future career as a direct relationship. “If I major in X I will have a career in Y.” While this isn’t illogical, there is no one, linear path to the career you want. My advice to you: do what makes you happy, regardless of what that looks like to other people. It’s okay to change your mind. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. In fact, it’s probably a good thing if you’re not. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for living your life for yourself.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Aracelis, Emalie, Felicia, and Patrick, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.