Nick Westbrooks is an urban educator in Newark, NJ. He graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 2013 with a degree in broadcast journalism and African-American Studies. He’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in Clinically Based English Education from New York University.
When it comes to deciding on what career path to choose, many college students knew what they wanted to do when they were in elementary school. There’s another group of students who thought they knew what they wanted to do, but either changed their minds when they got to college or at some point during their time at school. Then, there’s the sector of students who absolutely have no idea what they want to do.
They’re told to go to college, because they need an education to increase their chances of being “successful” in life, and they’re also told that it’s O.K. to not know what they want to do for a career yet. This is true to an extent, but many college students are given little guidance on how to make a decision. With the amount of time and money invested in a college education, it should be more desirable to figure this out sooner rather than later. Hopefully, these tips can function as a starting point to get the undecided individuals thinking about what they might want to do during and after college.
1. Think about your interests, hobbies and passions.
This may seem simple and obvious, but it’s also highly overlooked. What do you like to do? What are you interested in? What issues or topics matter to you the most? What do you value? Think about these questions and consider how you can make your interests and passions into a career. When you choose a career, you want something that you actually love and look forward to doing everyday. There’s nothing like getting paid for what you love to do. Additionally, think about the problems that are related to your interests and passions. You can make a greater impact on the world when you consider how to solve a problem or improve a condition.
2. Pay close attention and make the most out of your general education classes.
Both undecided and decided majors are required to take a variety of classes across disciplines, with undecided majors usually having more especially during freshman and sophomore year. Some students have the tendency of merely going through the motions and just doing what needs to be done to the pass their courses. As someone that’s undecided, you should pay extra close attention to the lessons, readings and discussions. You may find interest in a topic or career that you never would’ve expected. That’s what happened to me with education and teaching.
3. Use your campus and everyone on it as a resource.
You have endless resources and experts on campus that are all available to help you! Ask your fellow classmates why they chose their majors and what they plan to do with them. Upperclassmen and women are familiar with the coursework, and some have already completed internships. They can provide insights on the implications of pursuing certain careers. Professors have spent numerous years studying, researching and becoming experts in their subject areas, and they can provide you with a wealth of information. In fact, many of them have worked in the fields in which they currently teach. My journalism professors were news writers, producers and reporters before they became instructors. Professors can share with you their experiences and introduce you to other professionals in their networks. Then of course you should have at least one if not multiple career services offices around campus.
Not knowing what you want to do with your life can seem overwhelming to some and be a non-issue to others. Either way, it’s one of the most important decisions that you’ll have to make. Keeping that in mind, remember that whatever you choose isn’t etched in stone, and although you shouldn’t rush the process, be aware that your college years do move quickly. To put yourself in a better position for the future, you should operate with the mindset that your career doesn’t start after graduation; it starts as soon as you step foot on campus.