College Students: Follow Your Passion
College is usually the place where interests are discovered, nurtured, and pursued, but if you haven’t found your passion yet or you feel passionate about many different things, here are a few ways to help you establish a more focused career direction.
Deciding on a major
Whether you’re deciding on your major or have already chosen it, hopefully you’ve found a subject or particular field that you enjoy. Otherwise, imagine how hard it will be to wake up at 8 a.m. for your biology class when you dread the thought of slicing open a sheep’s brain. You’ll lose your breakfast and your grade in one fell swoop.
You also shouldn’t let your parents or peers influence this decision. Picking a major is a big deal and one that YOU will have to live with for the next four years. I know it’s hard to go against your parents’ wishes. I remember the disappointed look on my mom’s face when I told her law school wasn’t in my future, but she got over it. There comes a point when you need to do what’s best for you and there’s no better time than college to explore that independence. In the long run, your parents will understand and you’ll be a much happier person.
I’ve already talked about the benefits of having a job and completing an internship during college, but the payoff is especially great when you’re trying to explore different career paths. More colleges are now requiring students to take an internship in order to fulfill a graduation requirement, but don’t feel like you need to stop at just one.
Look at an internship as an opportunity to understand your likes and dislikes of the field you’re interning in and the job you’re doing. That way, if you’re unhappy with your internship, you’ll know not to make the same mistake again. Instead, you’ll choose an environment that works better for you the next time around.
Find a mentor
Do you have a professor you find intriguing? One that talks about a subject with such enjoyment and passion that you find yourself riveted in the material every class? This means you not only like the teacher but you probably like the subject too. Talk to this professor. Express your interest in learning more and ask if she can be your mentor. Professors are usually thrilled to help.
If you don’t come across a professor you like, try asking an older friend or classmate who is more knowledgeable in the subject you’re interested in pursuing. For a home cooked meal or bottle of wine, they will be happy to provide you with a little more direction and insight. Maybe even teach you a few vital skills.
Ask your peers what they think you’re good at
Sometimes we aren’t able see the good that other people see in us. If you need some help finding direction, ask your friends and family what they think your best skills and traits are. For years, I’ve been telling my friend how great she is at winning arguments and digging up answers to tough questions. Our friends would tease her and say how much they’d never want to go up against her in court. Now she’s set to go to law school in the fall.