Live in the Shadows

My name is Lindsey Wolpert and I am an English and Legal Studies major from Grand Valley State University. While in school I work for the GVSU Writing Center as a writing consultant, as well as completing legal internships in local law firms as a legal assistant. I am very involved in my school as a part of many organizations. In my spare time, if there is any, I enjoy writing, drawing, reading, and watching movies with my dog Taz.

Growing up in school these days means preparing for your career starting in the fifth grade. Or at least that is how it seems to us students. Beginning in elementary school you become familiar with standardized tests; these tests are there to make you understand what your strong and weak points are. When a student enters middle school there is another level of standardized tests… career aptitude tests. In these tests you learn what your strengths and weaknesses say about your future career. A student ends up taking these tests multiple times throughout their time in high school as well. The school is trying to point you in a direction before your personality is even truly formed. How can a computer tell a 13, 16, or 18 year old what they are destined to do for the next fifty years? It can’t because in reality all those teens really want to do is play video games, go shopping, and see how many Twitter followers they can get. A students focus and priority should be school and their future when they take such a test. Which leads me to you student readers.
So the test told you to be a park ranger, teacher, or nurse… what happens if you don’t like any of those options and you are headed away to college very soon? You begin to panic because you don’t have a major picked out before orientation and you feel like the only one whom those tests didn’t work out for. Well you can relax because in reality, those tests don’t often align with many of the test takers’ personal choices. If you as a freshman are unsure about what your future entails career wise, that is absolutely OK and even more importantly, it’s normal. An undecided major, however, is not an excuse to coast on random courses. As it is your future you must be proactive about it, if you didn’t agree with the test then find what you do agree with. Many students change their major at least once in college because they realized what they thought was the job they wanted actually is not. So randomly picking majors and taking those courses to find out if you like those options is not the smartest or economic decision you can make. Instead really think about the things you enjoy doing and the things you absolutely despise (related to work). Think about if you can tolerate big cities or if you want to live where there is a lot of land. Think about the time commitment you are willing to make to a job or how a family may factor into your future. These and many more are factors you should consider while looking for a possible career path.
Once you have narrowed down the field that most interests you then there is one very important step between your research on positions and declaring that major: Job shadowing. Job shadowing is possibly the number one piece of advice I have to give undecided students.You have no idea about the true makeup of the field, until you have been in the middle of it. Working adults are often sympathetic to college students who try to think fully about their decisions before making the leap of faith, so it is common for you to reach out and contact someone who is able to allow you to shadow them. During that first year of primary courses this is what you should do, live in the shadows. Ask these individuals all different types of questions and don’t be shy, ask to come back one or two more times so you can see all the possibilities. By this point you should be informed enough on your options to make an informed decision you are confident in. After you make the decision don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise, regardless of how the job market is or where you would have to move or how much schooling is needed. It is your choice that you, after all these steps, fully understand so stick by it and declare that major. And most importantly… good luck!

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