Avoiding the Quarter Life Crisis

I’m sure you’ve heard of a midlife crisis, so what exactly is a quarter life crisis? Essentially, what happens is that around twenty five, recently graduated students start to panic as they analyze their life choices. Early on in college, it’s not a big deal for students to frequently reconsider what they want to do as a career. In fact, the only consequence of changing your mind is that you must take a trip to your academic advisor’s office, which can be a pain if it’s all the way across campus from your dorm. But that’s nothing compared to the pains that come with realizing you want to change your career after you’ve already graduated and have begun to establish yourself in a particular field. If you decide, as a woman in her mid to late twenties, that you want to make a career switch, you might realize that it’s not as easy as you would have thought. You don’t have the resources or assistance that you had in college and nearly all of your work experience is within, say, environmental science. So if all of a sudden you decide you want to be a journalist, you might end up feeling lost and completely unsure of which direction to turn. If you are married and/or have kids by this time, you might find yourself feeling even more “up the creek without a paddle,” as family can decrease your flexibility, both in terms of how much you are willing to risk in a career move and the amount of time and effort you can put into searching for something else. So how do you combat this? How can you prepare in undergrad so that you don’t find yourself in this position? It may be impossible to prevent the chance that you’ll want to switch careers – such an occurrence is influenced by a variety of factors, such as how confident you are in your initial career choice and how satisfied you are with your experience during your first few years in the field. However, you can take some precautions so that, should you decide to change careers, you don’t feel as if you’re without resources or opportunities. The first strategy is to double major (or minor) in a subject unrelated to your major or in an area that holds secondary interest to you. For example, if you get your nursing degree but minor in business, if you one day decide you’ve seen enough blood for one lifetime, you can apply for office jobs with a bit more leverage. An additional strategy is to network, network, network! This means utilizing office hours and getting to know professors even in classes you don’t particularly care about. During school you may feel like you can largely ignore your history class, providing you turn assignments in and show up for exams. But if, on the other hand, you have developed a rapport with your professors in all subjects, then you can call in a favor when you decide you want to be a high school history teacher!

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