By Danni Ondraskova
There comes a point in every college student’s life when he or she either feels lost about what career path to plan for or is interested in many possibilities and is finding it hard to narrow down. Maybe you are an English major at a liberal arts college who wants to get an analyst summer internship at Goldman Sachs. Maybe you are a political science major who has worked for several political campaigns or government departments and wants to break into the nonprofit world. Maybe you are a passionate statistician who also has a penchant for Japanese painting. Or maybe you are the archetypal wide-eyed first year (or even college senior!) who has no idea what you want to do with your career or life.
Compound your uncertainty with the fact that you are a college student whose brain has not yet reached its intellectual peak and that your personal and preferences are highly variable until at least your thirties, on average. So where should you go?
Many schools of higher education have fantastic career education centers with resources on internships and jobs for various fields. In some cases, certain companies send alumni to their alma maters to conduct interviews, and students need to apply on their career services accounts. Many also have financial resources for grants or scholarships related to graduate school programs, academic or career conferences, internships, and even volunteer opportunities. And most importantly, career services centers in your college or university are likely the key to opening the door of alumni connections you may need to earn that coveted job or for professional support in your future.
Once you’ve decided that making an appointment with your career services organization is worthwhile, what should you do next? It is an excellent idea to attack your plan in multiple phases. Sometimes, if I have questions swirling in my head about what to do, I’ll spend five minutes doing nothing but writing down every career-related query I can think of. When the time is up, I often try to group questions in a number of ways to make them more manageable.
First, I consider what can be solved by talking to my parents or academic advisors, the Internet, or plain old common sense. Once those questions are set aside, I’m ready to move on. I then try to look for common thematic threads. For example, my questions may all be related to the common theme of how to succeed in finance internship interviews. Once I organize everything into themes, I am ready to make my appointment.
Next, you have the career services meeting with your advisor, which hopefully will go well for you. Now you have answers. But it is often the case that such meetings bring up a host of new questions—as the next section of your career path is revealed, a new fork in the road appears. Or you may be in another situation—you would be good at the job that you and your career services mentor have identified, but it doesn’t ignite any real spark in you. That is to say, it is something you can envision doing, but not something you will likely be passionate for your entire life.
If you are in that situation, or if you are in the situation of knowing exactly what to do with your life but don’t have the grades or money to get there, don’t forget that jobs are temporary, especially in this day and age and for Millennials. With lowering travel prices from a few decades ago, it is also in many ways easier for you to physically move to a new job, so you have more geographic mobility than you may be giving yourself credit for.
In today’s startup and social media oriented economy, it is also easier now than at any point in human history for you to kickstart a campaign you’re passionate about or have your product go viral. Will being successful be easy? Probably not. But with the education you are getting and the writing, analytical, and critical thinking skills you are honing in college, you are already ahead of the curve.
Danni Ondraskova will graduate in 2018 from Wellesley College. Danni plans on earning a dual degree in law and business and dreams of working for JP Morgan’s Global Investment Management division.